There couldn’t have been a more perfect gift under the Christmas tree than two day passes to Scenic Caves Nordic Centre near Collingwood. We think that there are few things more wonderful than Ontario in late February—the sun is warm, the woods are still, the snow sparkles along deep drifts, and the sky is blue from horizon to horizon.
Getting some deeply restorative time out in the quiet forest should be on everyone’s winter list. And while you may be familiar with the summer delights of Scenic Caves—the walking trails, zip line adventures—the winter season is just as active. There are 27 km of groomed trails of various levels of challenge, 10 km of snowhoe trails, a warming hut with hot foods and drinks, waxing room, change rooms, and complete rentals, including skate skis and baby gliders.
My gift was used toward a day on the snowshoe trails. And what a delight the trails are. To begin with, the ski and snowshoe trail systems are quite separate—to the benefit of both groups. Snow shoe trails vary from groomed and granular, such as on the Suspension Bridge Trail, to the deeper snows and adventurous feel of Deep Woods and Ironman.
If you visit during the week, you might not see another soul on the trails, especially the more challenging hilly routes (which we recommend). You won’t be bushwacking—the trails are clearly signed and somewhat broken ahead of you—you do have to work a little harder (that’s good!). The rewards are many: wide angle views from the 420-foot suspension footbridge that make the grain elevators in Collingwood seem like mere models; and more good views from atop Lookout Trail and Ridgetop. The main draw is the forest itself—200 year-old trees are heavily laden with snow and the stillness is such a relief from everyday life.
Base camp has a few tables inside and benches outside for sitting and enjoying a treat. It isn’t haute cuisine but after a morning of fresh air, good soup, bagels and grilled cheese seem about right. There is another snack bar on Lookout Trail that is open on weekends only. If you are a beginner, there’s good advice available in the equipment rental shop.
We had initial concerns about school groups and being able to get away from humankind on the trails. Lay that fear to rest. The acreage is very large, the groups small, and the base camp folks efficient at getting kids organized and away on trails quickly. No problem.
If you really love your winter adventure, you might want to know that you can enjoy three centres—Scenic Caves, HighlandsNordic and Wasaga Nordic—on one three-day pass for only $40.
See you on the trails!