Exploring an Ontario park in a new season!
Arrowhead Provincial Park is a great Ontario Park located in Muskoka, just north of Huntsville, Ontario.
I’ve been to Arrowhead many times, camping or on day trips, spring, summer, and fall, but never during winter. The park has always had a great winter program, but over the past several years, Arrowhead has become famous for it’s winter activities!
So when I found myself traveling through the Huntsville area in December 2019, on what happened to be the park’s winter season opening day, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take a drive into the park, and check out winter at Arrowhead!
A quick stop at the permit office to pay, and also to pick up an Arrowhead crest and sticker of course, and we were on our way into the park. The park staff were really friendly and pointed out some important information on the map before I left.
Being that this was just the start to the winter season, and the temperatures were still a bit warm, not all of Arrowhead’s activities were up and running yet. The park’s hiking and snowshoe trails were open, a large amount of the cross country ski trails were open too, but the tubing hill and Arrowhead’s famous skating trail were still closed.
The first stop on this day was to check out Arrowhead’s new visitor centre. The visitor centre officially opened in December 2018 and during the winter it operates as the park’s equipment rental shop which also sells drinks and snacks, a warm up and lounge area, and a facility to host workshops and events.
The visitor centre was very nice! The warm up and lounge area had lots of space and was warm from the huge stone fireplace. Large windows along one wall overlooked some of the groomed ski trails below. I noticed that the windows installed in the visitor centre are a new type that have a pattern of dots across the glass to help prevent birds from flying into them. Ontario Parks have been starting to install these types of windows in some of their buildings, which is a great idea!
From the visitor centre we headed over the Stubb’s Falls Trail. A visit to Stubb’s Falls is a must do activity every time I visit Arrowhead! There are a few different access points to reach Stubb’s Falls, but today we decided to hike the entire trail right from the start, to see what the area looked like with the snow.
The Stubb’s Falls Trail is 2km long and follows alongside the Little East River downstream to Stubb’s Falls, where it then turns and follows along the other side of the river upstream back to Arrowhead Lake. This is an easy trail that winds it’s way through the trees and offers views down to the river and the falls.
Boots were all that was needed on this day as the trail was packed down well from other visitors. A recent snowfall from a couple days before had covered everything in a beautiful layer of fluffy snow, making the area surrounding the trail a winter wonderland!
When we reached the falls there was no one in sight. It was quiet and peaceful. A rare occurrence at this popular spot. In fact we didn’t see anyone else along the trail at all until near the end.
Heading down to the falls!
Stubb’s Falls is a special place at any time of year, but the snow and ice only added to it’s beauty. The falls start just below the walking bridge and then winds it’s way around a rock chute to a pool below. We spent a nice amount of time at Stubb’s Falls and I enjoyed photographing the beautiful winter landscape surrounding it.
It was time to head back out so we continued to follow along the trail. This half of the trail, on the west side of the river, winds around a forest of mostly deciduous trees. Some of which, such as the Beech and Oak, were still holding on to their colourful fall leaves.
Back out on to the main road, there was a lovely view of the frozen Arrowhead Lake and the pedestrian bridge. All was quiet and calm here too. We seemed to have picked a perfect day to visit Arrowhead!
Arrowhead is a beautiful park during the winter season, with so much to do! Too much to do in just the short amount of time that I was there. I’ll look forward to checking out Arrowhead’s other winter activities during another visit, and when I have more time to explore this great park!
Have you ever been to Arrowhead during winter?