Winter is here! And with winter comes a healthy dump of the white fluffy stuff (we hope). And that makes perfect conditions for getting on those cross country skis in the region.
Don’t forget to keep washing those hands, maintain physical distance from others outside your household and mask up while you support local businesses within the region. For the latest COVID updates, please visit the Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health website.
Growing up in Belleville, one of our favourite family activities was cross-country skiing. In fact, I have even skied across the actual Bay of Quinte with my Dad, sister and dog while people ice fished for walleye in huts behind us. From our house in the west end of Belleville, we were able to ski out of our driveway and into Sidney Township. Clearly, the 1980s had different weather and circumstances than what we see now. A lot of development in the area has happened and while that route in the west end is no longer possible, there are a lot of other places to explore and blaze some cross-country trails in the Bay of Quinte Region.
(Note: Please proceed with caution if going over open water as conditions can change rapidly. Check with local municipal authorities on whether ice conditions are safe.)
In the Bay of Quinte Region, as there is not more than a foot or so of snow falling at once, much of the cross-country skiing done here will be the classical form. There are not dedicated groomed cross-country ski trails and parks in place, so the best kind of skis for the area would be light touring. Light touring skis give you the ability to adapt to ungroomed areas as well as groomed trails. However, if you have classic skis and you’re not heading into wild terrain, you’ll be alright.
Here are some of the best places to strap on the skis in the majestic forests and snowy trails to get some low impact but high cardio exercise:
This Ontario Provincial Park is closed to camping during the winter, but did you know that it is open for day use activities all year long? The main activities at Presqu’ile Provincial Park in the winter are walking and snowshoeing, due to the lack of inclines; as such, novice cross-country ski enthusiasts can learn how to break fresh snow here.
While you will not find groomed or dedicated trails or warming shelters here for cross-country skiing, you are permitted to ski here, weather dependent. And while you’re in Presqu’ile, be sure to take in the interesting ice formations that take shape along the shore of Lake Ontario.
Sidney Conservation Area is one of those places where you find yourself journeying through open areas and mixed forests and find chickadees and other song birds along the way ready to greet you. The trails here are short and there is a considerable amount of wetland here. Stick to Pine Way and Around The Bend trails for a less lowland or snow-buried mud experience.
Potter’s Creek is one of the absolute gems of the area. In every season, there is something here for everyone. From the parking lot and behind the main office of Quinte Conservation, you’re treated to a diverse and inspiring canopy and mix of coniferous and deciduous trees. Here you want to take your time on the trails because it’s so scenic.
With so many different trails that take you through frozen wetlands, deciduous forest or alongside the mighty Moira River, HR Frink Centre is a “must do” on cross-country skis. Many of the trails at this conservation area are shorter but when you combine two or three of them together, you get an afternoon that will give you an excellent workout.
One of best pieces of advice for skiers on fresh snow is to stick to the already existing trails. Try not to venture off too far in your quest to blaze a new path as you may be disturbing ecological sensitive areas under the snow.