A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
Ontario skiers and snowboarders have an array of winter sports options thanks to ski resorts located near its provincial capital city of Toronto, Canada’s capital of Ottawa, and even as far as northern Ontario. Many of the province's ski resorts are concentrated in southern Ontario within driving distance of the province's capital city of Toronto. Blue Mountain, Ontario's largest resort, is located in Collingwood. The modest variety of terrain is a great place for beginners and intermediate skiers to hone their skills. Horseshoe and Mount St. Louis are also popular destinations from Toronto. Mount Pakenham and Calabogie are the closest Ontario resorts to Ottawa with Calabogie offering the highest vertical in the province at 780 feet.
Ontario is Canada's most populous province and the high Northern altitudes means the ski resorts will get plenty of natural snow. Lake effect snow is a given, but those snowmaking machines are at the ready to be sure of good coverage everywhere.
There are literally dozens of ski areas in Ontario -- most in the Southeast region of the province. It's a large array of downhill skiing, cross country and snowshoeing, so residents and visitors have plenty of choices.
Here's a "highlight reel" of the 9 Ontario ski resorts featured at OnTheSnow.com.
Blue Mountain resort in Southwestern Ontario is the largest resort in the province. Collingwood is about 2 hours north of Toronto. The terrain on Blue Mountain is ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, but does have some challenging terrain as well.
Its village is charming in a European way much like Tremblant in Quebec. You'll save 20 percent on lift tickets if you package them with lodging. The vertical drop is 720 feet spilling onto 43 trails over 365 acres. There are 13 lifts and the season usually runs from December to late March or well into April, depending on the snow cover. Snowmaking is on 94 percent of the terrain.
You'll find Loch Lomand's skiing, snowboarding and tubing just 10 minutes from Thunder Bay off of Highway 61 North on Nor'Wester Mountain Range. This is a small resort with 3 chairlifts (one quad), but with an equal amont of terrain and runs for all levels of skier and rider.
Searchmont is a good bet for American skiers across the border located north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and is easily accessible from northern Michigan. There's a 703-foot vertical drop and skiing and riding is over 100 acres. There are 28 runs and 60 percent are meant for intermediates. There are 6 lifts.
Mount Saint Louis is a short hop from Barrie. Though it sits in Ontario’s snow belt, the resort claims to have the most advanced snowmaking system in the province. There are 36 runs across the Mount Saint Louis and Moonstone slopes covering 170 acres. There’s a dedicated area for beginners and terrain parks for freestylers and the terrain is considered 50 percent for intermediates. Barrie offers shops, galleries, and plenty of dining and bars as the base area is fairly limited. Snowmaking covers 100 percent of the terrain.
You can make it a double-header by skiing and riding on Horseshoe Resort, which also is close to Barrie. Horseshoe spreads over 61 acres and is located in a natural snow belt just one hour north of Toronto. Night skiing, too. The terrain park includes a permanent ski/snowboard cross course. You'll find a variety of dining options. The vertical is a modest 308-foot vertical with 32 trails served by 6 lifts.
Calabogie Peaks, the highest ski resort in Ontario with a 780-foot vertical drop, is in the Ottawa Valley on the shores of Calabogie Lake. There's a 25-room hotel and condo suites with all ski in/ski out access. The modest 80 acres of skiable terrain holds 24 trails served by 3 lifts.
The well-laid out terrain of Mt. Packenham is a 25-minute drive west of the Scotia Bank Place, Ottawa. There are 10 groomed runs, 9 marked gladed areas, terrain park, and snow tubing lanes. Cross country skiing trails surround the downhill ski area. The vertical is a short 280 feet but spreads over 55 acres and 10 trails. There are 7 lifts including 3 quad chairs. There's 100 percent snowmaking.
Kelso Glen Eden Conservation Area – also known as Glen Eden ski area in the winter - is located in Milton. It is built around Lake Kelso. Glen Eden is spread across 45 acres of accessible terrain and offers skiers and riders a 240-foot vertical drop. With 100 percent snowmaking capability, the area features 5 lifts and 13 trails including terrain parks for freestylers.
Antoine Mountain is located in the Laurentian Mountains between two elevated peaks at 640 and 730 vertical feet. The chalet is at the base of one of Ontario's highest mountains with 15 groomed runs, a vertical of 640 feet and is home to the longest run in Ontario.
Hidden Valley Highlands can be found in Huntsville, Ontario, about 140 miles north of Toronto on one shore of Peninsula Lake. The vertical drop is 327 feet. There are 4 lifts and 13 trails. There are locations for tobogganing, ice skating, and snowmobiling. It is closest tied to the Muskova Ski Club.
There are 35 resorts in Ontario. Many of the province's ski resorts are concentrated in southern Ontario within driving distance of the province's capital city of Toronto.
Here’s a list of all Ontario 35 resorts. Starred areas can be found at OnTheSnow.com in detail:
Adanac Ski Hill
Batawa Ski Hill
Beaver Valley Ski Club
Boler Mountain (London Ski Club)
Craigleith Ski Club
Devil's Glen Country Club
Hidden Valley Highlands
Larder Lake Ski Club
Laurentian Ski Hill
Lively Ski Hill
Mansfield Ski Club
Mount Jamieson Resort
Mount St. Louis Moonstone*
Osler Bluff Ski Club
Remi Ski Club
Sir Sam's Ski Area
Ski Snow Valley
Trestle Ridge Ski Slopes
Uplands Ski Centre.
Ski resorts in the eastern part of Canada (like Ontario) have shorter ski seasons and lower alpine terrain. Still, these resorts make snow all season long, allowing trails to be covered through March and sometimes into April (during a good snow year).
The ski season generally stretches from early December to mid-April thanks to snowmaking.
Blue Mountains Resort is the largest ski resort in Ontario. It is located 2.5 hours northeast of Toronto on the Niagara Escarpment.
Ontario is home to dozens of ski resorts with affordable lift tickets, many of them close to Canada’s largest and most interesting cities, such as Toronto and Ottawa. They offer travelers a convenient, diverse and inexpensive ski vacation.
Located in the Ottawa Valley, just an hour from Ottawa, is Calabogie Peaks. Built on the slopes of Mount Dickson, this ski resort has the honor of having Ontario's highest vertical drop at 780 feet.
The northern part of the province has longer and colder winters than the south. The coolest month in Ontario is January when the average maximum temperature is 23 degrees. Average temperature is 16 degrees and average minimum temperature is 9 degrees.
Huntsville is a huge town that is set in the beautiful Muskoka Region. Skiing can be found just 11 miles away at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area. Take a stroll up and down the main street, and check out the shops. One of the best is Algonquin Outfitters. The center of town has a variety of good restaurants with extensive patios overlooking the river.
Collingwood is best known in Ontario as a ski resort town. It is a beautiful town that is set 2 hours north of Toronto and about a 10-minute drive from Blue Mountains. Collingwood has preserved much of the charm of its Main Street, Hurontario Street. Walk along the street and poke around some of the surrounding neighborhoods to see turn-of-the-century Victorian and Edwardian inspired architecture. Foodies and other shoppers will enjoy the stores, boutiques, and restaurants along well-preserved main street.
Many of the province's ski resorts are concentrated in southern Ontario within driving distance of the province's capital city of Toronto. Best bet is to fly into Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and rent a car.
Don't overlook cross country skiing in Ontario. There are 19 Ontario Parks that offer some of the best nordic skiing in Ontario. The cross country ski trails are groomed for both classic and skate skiing. Many have lit trails for night cross country skiing plus warm-up shelters and/or cabins with wood fires and hot chocolate to warm you up. Cross country ski rentals are available at Arrowhead, Killarney, Pinery, Wasaga Beach and Windy Lake.
The Thunder Bay region has a number of skinny skiing opportunities you won't want to pass up if you also enjoy the Nordic side of our sport. Kamview Nordic Centre features some 30 km of groomed trails, including 5.5 kms of well-lit trails for some of the best night cross country skiing in Ontario. Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park has 13 km of beautiful groomed cross country ski trails, adjacent to Kakabeka Falls. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park features an easy to moderate picturesque 20 km loop for both classic and skate skiing. Lappe Ski Centre is on the outskirts of Thunder Bay. It offers 13.5 km of groomed trails with 6.5 km of lit trails for night skiing.
Toronto is one of the most exciting cities in the world. Not only is it a financial and business powerhouse, but its nightlife scene is the best in Canada. There are more than 20 happening clubs in the city of Toronto that offer amazing experiences after dark. So, the Toronto Factor comes into play for Ontario visitors who love to ski and ride, but also enjoy the big city vacation vibe.
Fly into Toronto and enjoy the sports, nightlife and foodie fun. But, consider renting a car and heading to the hills just a few hours away for a day or two more skiing and riding.
You won't find what could be termed big mountain adventure in Ontario, but if you live here or, for that matter, in the upper Midwest, USA, there are many, many options, most within a few hours of Toronto. So, while it may not be "knock your socks off" exciting, you'll have a good time on well-groomed ski slopes.