Winter can be a difficult time to enjoy the Great Outdoors. It’s snowy, slippery, wet and cold, not to mention the fleeting hours of daylight. Still, if you’ve vowed to enjoy more outdoor adventures this winter, there are some ways to slowly start enjoying Mother Nature’s stunning, sleepy, silent season.

Here are 10 winter activities for beginners, listed in order from most relaxing and easily accessible to most strenuous and complicated.

 

Sunset Watching

Let’s start off easy: just get outside and see the sunset. With the sun setting significantly earlier than in summertime, make it a goal to get outside to a local park, beach, lake, riverside or forest and watch the sun set. Remember your headlamp for the trek back to the car!

 

Winter Picnicking

Bundle up with boots, gloves, scarves, toques and jackets for a wonderful walk in the woods and a peaceful winter picnic. Bring a cooler bag, backpack or basket stuffed with your favourite delights. We suggest cheese, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate and hot beverages like tea, coffee, hot chocolate and apple cidre.

 

Have a Campfire

Wintertime can be the best time for a log-burning campfire. With fire bans throughout the summer, take advantage of the snowy conditions to have a roaring, wood-burning fire. Stick to parks with day-use areas and dedicated fire pits. Bring ingredients for s’mores, blankets to snuggle up in and wear cozy boots, warm gloves and base layers—don’t depend solely on the flames for heat.

 

Staying in a Cozy Cabin

Who would say no to a weekend getaway in a snow-dusted cottage? Escape from city life and daily notifications on a rejuvenating stay in a winter wonderland. You can go near or far—just make sure you have the right tires for a Canadian winter road trip. Some cabins have hot tubs, outdoor saunas and cold plunge pools. Our top choice would be the iconic Canadian destination of Emerald Lake Lodge, but if that’s out of your budget, there are plenty of cute A-frames and cozy chalets on Airbnb.

 

Sledding/Tobogganing/Snow Tubing

Let gravity do the work! Racing down a small, medium or large hill on a sled, toboggan or snow tube is a cherished Canadian winter pastime. Be adventurous and hit a little jump or stick to the smaller slopes with your friends and family. Some ski hills have dedicated chutes for inflatable tubes with tows to pull you back up the hill if you don’t want to do the footwork.

 

Winter Hiking

Speaking of footwork, hiking is an incredible adventure that is slightly more complicated in the snow than in the summer. You’ll need to wear sturdy, waterproof hiking boots—put away those breathable sneakers for now—and dress in layers made of wool or polyester. Buy or rent microspikes or crampons to stop yourself from slipping on icy sections. Trekking poles can help with stability and traction. As always, your daypack should include the 10 essentials. Don’t forget to “be bold, start cold” and put on layers as necessary. Research weather conditions, including avalanches, and leave behind a detailed trip plan. Start your hike early, with plenty of time to complete the trail in daylight, and don’t be ashamed to turn around if needed.

 

Snowshoeing

Snowshoes are a great tool for getting into snow-dappled areas in the winter and adventuring after a heavy fresh snowfall. The wide decking provides flotation on new, light snowfall, so you don’t sink in when tracks haven’t been made for you to follow. When snowshoeing for the first time, try to “walk like a cowboy.” This will help you avoid stepping on your snowshoes and scraping the claw/teeth against your legs. The same safety rules you'd follow for winter hiking apply for snowshoeing.

 

Ice Skating

Significantly more skill is required for ice skating, but many Canadians have been enjoying this winter experience since they were children. Rinks open across the country throughout the winter, and there are some iconic places to lace up your skates and dance on the ice. Can’t skate? Try an ice bike instead.

 

Fat Biking

If you can ride a bike, you can fat bike! Be prepared for this adventure to be a bit more difficult than cruising on a bicycle in summer. Fat bikes have larger tires to tackle snow, and it takes a bit more effort to pedal through the fluffy white stuff. Rent a fat bike and go on an easy trail with a friend. You might discover a new favourite way to cycle!

 

Cross-country Skiing

The most rigorous outdoor activity on this list, cross-country skiing takes a decent amount of effort and requires specific gear. You can rent skis, boots and poles at many ski hills. There are two main types of cross-country skiing: classic and skate. Beginners should try classic skiing and invest in a lesson. Bundle up in layers, stick to green runs and enjoy this workout. It’s tougher than it looks, but with time and practice, you’ll get used to the motions.

   

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