2021-12-24 00:00

Fun winter activities to do in Caledon

When you spot the season’s first snowflake falling from the sky, do your thoughts turn to the bracing rush of winter wonderland of outdoor pursuits? Or do they drift more to cozy indoor hibernation? Whatever your inclinations, even the winter lovers among us risk running out of ideas by mid-January for fun things to do in winter, but that's what we are here for. For parents and caregivers, in particular, the snowy season is not just about playing in the snow, but it induces planning panic, not to mention cabin fever.

No matter what the temperature here in the town of Caledon, Canada, there’s endless fun to be had. Read on to find out about outdoor winter activities near me that will help you to kick-start the season and keep the good times rolling with more than just hot chocolate.

1. Strap on skis

One of our favourite winter things to do. Headwaters is packed with activities for skiers. Whether you want to commit to a membership, suss out public weekday or weekend skiing, or sign up for a season of lessons, Mansfield Ski Club in Mulmur, Caledon Ski Club near Belfountain, and Hockley Valley Resort in Mono offers great options.

If picturesque paths are more your thing, kids are also naturals at gliding on cross-country skis. Even the little kids play well and can cover significant ground before getting too tired. Remember to wear sweat-wicking base layers, as this is an aerobic activity! Both the section of the Elora Cataract Trailway in Erin and Monora Park just north of Orangeville are among the good spots to pop on cross-country skis and take in deep breaths of crisp, fresh air.

2. Build a fort

Can’t get the kids to go outside? Just say the word “fort” and they’ll be racing to pull on boots and mittens. Fort building is one of the professional outdoor enthusiasts Sam Shepherd’s go-to activities. With her husband Dave, Sam owns Escarpment Outdoor Adventures in Erin where they offer programs such as outdoor adventure camps, hiking, and yoga for local kids.

If there’s not enough of the white stuff for a snow fort, Sam says deadfall – sticks and twigs – is a boon. “Kids really enjoy making forts. They can work alone or with others and the creativity flows.”

If creativity begins to wane, extend the vibe with a round of “snow-ga,” which Sam, a certified yoga teacher, says is a great boredom buster.

3. Upgrade your woodsy walk

Whether it’s on a stretch of the Bruce Trail or in the woods of any of the provincial parks, gather up the little ones, slip on some hikers (consider strapping on cleats if it’s icy), and set out on a different kind of hike, this one attuned to wildlife. This is one of our favorite things to do in the snow.

Don Scallen, In The Hills’ resident nature expert, created this thoughtful challenge for us. You’ll need to take along a measuring tape, pencil, and notebook for older kids. Print these instructions for tracking rabbits.

1. Watch for animal tracks in the snow and keep your eyes and ears open for birds in the forest. The woods are full of blue jays, cardinals, and other birds that overwinter.

2. Find the distinctive tracks of a cottontail rabbit (see photo above).

3. Follow the tracks to discover what the rabbit was up to. See if you can find where the rabbit rested. This shallow depression is called a form.

4. Look for its droppings. They might remind you of Cocoa Puffs cereal, says Don.

5. Examine branches along the rabbit’s path. Branches are rabbit food, at least in winter. Any cut on a sharp 45-degree angle has probably been bitten by the rabbit you’re tracking.

6. With a measuring tape, see how far apart the tracks are. This distance is called the stride. A 20–30 cm stride (about 8–12 in.) probably means your rabbit was calm and unhurried. An 80–100 cm stride (about 31–40 in.) means your rabbit was really stressed out. It may have been on the run from a predator such as a coyote or red fox.

7. See if you can piece together a story about a day in the life of “your” rabbit.

If you’d like to find your footing with a regular hiking group or just sample new bunny-worthy trails, consider going on an introductory hike with the Dufferin Hi-Land or Caledon Bruce Trail Club. Both groups offer organized hikes of varying lengths and levels of difficulty.

4. Go totally tubular

Snow tubing is a happy mash-up of tobogganing down a hill and tubing behind a boat on a lake or free-floating on a river. Teen Ranch, just south of Orangeville on Highway 10, has the perfect hill for kids to navigate inside a big squishy tube. Sure, they have to carry the tube back up the hill, but their grunts of exertion quickly give way to the next whoops of excitement.

From personal experience, I’d say tubing is the highlight of Teen Ranch’s winter PA Day and holiday camps, as well as its Family Day programming – when adults can launch themselves down the hill too.

P.S: you can also make snow angels and do dog sledding.

5. Ride a fat bike

If you consider mountain biking a summer sport, think again. With the fat bike trend gaining traction – picture hefty mountain bikes with even gnarlier tires – cyclists can now hit the trails any time of year. Snow and ice are no deterrent to 8- to 13- centimeter wide tires with extra-grippy treads.

Bonus: If you’ve got bored tweens and teens, fat bikes are downright cool enough to try out with mom and dad. You can rent bikes at shops such as Caledon Hills Cycling in Inglewood (they also offer great family ride maps on their website). Or head to Albion Hills Conservation Area in Palgrave, where they offer mostly adult sizes and a couple of smaller sizes suitable for kids about 120 centimeters (four feet) tall.

Helmets are mandatory in conservation areas and common sense everywhere else for noggin safety. Albion Hills feature eight kilometers of winter fat bike trails for a perfect way to spend a winter’s day.

6. Climb the walls

If the kids are climbing the walls at home, you can turn that metaphor into reality – and save your sanity – by taking them to a real climbing wall.

The Caledon Centre for Recreation and Wellness in Bolton, for instance, boasts a 9-meter rock wall suitable for all levels and abilities. Closed-toed running shoes and comfortable clothing are musts, or you can borrow rock wall shoes. The friendly staff will help the kiddos get helmeted, harnessed up, and ready to scrabble up the ersatz Everest.


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