In Meaford, winter is the stuff of Christmas cards and Currier and Ives paintings – white-mantled trees, the sun casting diamonds on the snow-blanketed fields, clear, cold starry nights. And winter warmups at Meaford Haven begin with ample opportunities for outdoor activities and exercise… then finish off with warm gatherings round the hearth and a glass of wine.

Here’s your guide to just a few of the activities you’ll get up to at Meaford Haven during the winter.

IN THIS ISSUE:

Enjoy the winter trails
A snowmobiler’s paradise
Ontario’s best downhill skiing minutes away
Great ways to enjoy the ice
‘Tis the season


Enjoy the winter trails

Cross country skiing is one of those sports you can do at any time of your life, and it’s becoming more and more popular among retirees. A high-calorie-burning, full-body workout, it gives you great cardiovascular benefits and an endorphin rush in a low-impact sport. You can choose your own pace, and you can ski outside your back door or check out one of the beautifully scenic nearby trail systems. (The most distant of these trails is only 40 minutes away.)

Coffin Ridge Winery
We just learned that beginning this winter, the winery will be grooming trails along the vineyards. After an invigorating ski, head inside to warm by the fire and indulge yourself with a mug of hot mulled wine, local cheeses, paté and freshly baked bread.
www.coffinridge.ca/

Massie Hills
A short drive from Meaford, this 10 km trail system (with numerous opportunities to reverse loops and add distance) offers the feel of a backwoods ski in a nicely groomed trail. Some hills and moderately difficult sections, but nothing extreme. Donate at the entrance or join the club.
http://owensound.org/ski/

Loree Forest
Head south of Thornbury on Country Road 2, and head east on Sideroad 21 to find a spot to park, then strap on your skis. No-fee skiing on a mostly flat course, with views from the top of Georgian Peaks.

Kolapore Uplands
This 60 km classic trail system can keep you active forever. As Grey County’s tourism site relates, “Grooming is completed by the first skier of the day so skiers should be prepared to ‘break trail’ following a snowfall.” Areas for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers.
www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails-a-z/kolapore-uplands-trail/

Nordic Centre at Scenic Caves
Within a half hour scenic drive, you can enjoy 22 kilometres of groomed beginner and intermediate forested trails with occasional spectacular views. Foodservice, rentals, change-rooms and more onsite.
www.sceniccaves.com/winter/skiing-snowshoeing.htm

Inglis Falls and Harrison Park
Owen Sound’s Inglis Falls is a popular scenic destination in summer, but it’s just as magical in winter, with a 7.5 km ski trail accessible from the falls or from Harrison Park below. A loop from Harrison Park takes you up the escarpment, tours near the falls, and then heads back down to the park, where the Harrison Park Inn awaits you with warmth, food and drink.

Sawmill Ski Trail
North of Owen Sound and south of Hepworth, you’ll find 10 km of groomed classic and skate trails branching off from the cozy log clubhouse. You can even night ski a section under the lights. Admission by donation or join the club.
www.bruceskiclub.ca

Highlands Nordic
One of Ontario’s premiere cross country ski resorts, Highlands Nordic hosts major provincial and national events – and gives you a lot to choose from in classic and skate skiing. Challenging hills, excellent grooming, and a large clubhouse and ski shop with rentals and sales.
www.highlandsnordic.ca/

Mix it up with a snowshoe jaunt
Many of these cross country ski locations also provide great terrain for snowshoeing – either on marked trails or by making your own tracks. Some areas may require fees, some definitely require a map, and skiers really appreciate it if snowshoers stay off the ski tracks.

But there’s no need to even leave town to snowshoe in Meaford. Step outside your door and explore the countryside around you, or head down to the Trout Hollow Trail to enjoy up to 14 km of varied terrain and beautiful winter scenery. (It’s wise to avoid using the trail along the Bighead River during a thaw.)


A snowmobiler’s paradise

A visit to snowmobilegreybruce.com reveals some enticing reasons to sled in the region. For one thing, there are 3,600 km of trails in District 9 (the Grey Bruce area). The area also has more clubhouses than any other region in Ontario. Owen Sound gets a tremendous amount of powder every year. You’ll find breathtaking views from the Niagara Escarpment. And you can “Ride the Willie”, a fun-packed snowmobile festival during the Wiarton Willie Festival.

Visit the www.snowmobilegreybruce.com for trail information and more

Meaford’s own Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club offers events throughout the season, including a Poker Run, Driver Training courses, and great camaraderie and fun.
www.meaford.com/snow.html


Ontario’s best downhill skiing minutes away

When it comes to downhill skiing and snowboarding, you’re less than 20 minutes from Ontario’s largest ski resort. Thirty-four trails offer you everything from easygoing beginners slopes to challenging double black diamonds and glade skiing. On top of that, three terrain parks and two super pipes let loose your inner “dude”.

Getting up the hill is almost as fast – with 14 lifts, including four high-speed express chairs. And since you live so close, you can take advantage of some of the great deals on season’s pass. A 5×7 pass lets you ski days Monday through Friday (avoiding the weekend crowds), and seven nights a week. It’s remarkably economical at the early bird price; get out just four times during the season and you’re already ahead of the game.

And with Blue’s excellent snowmaking, the season is a long one, often starting in early December and finishing with great spring skiing up till Easter.

Three lodges offer warmth and refreshments whenever you’re ready, and simply ski down to the Village at Blue to discover more than a dozen restaurants, bars, cafés and bistros to round out your day. There’s great shopping in the Village too, along with regular activities, including musical events, bonfires and more.

www.bluemountain.ca

You’ll also find a number of private ski clubs in the area, including Beaver Valley Ski Club, Georgian Peaks, Craigleith, Alpine and others.


Great ways to enjoy the ice

What’s the perfect combination of competitive winter activity, a great social atmosphere, and exercise? If you’re Canadian, you answered curling.

The local Curling Club is almost as old as Meaford itself, formed back in 1876. Now in its 135th year, the Club is still going strong, based in a modern facility on Collingwood Street featuring state-of-the-art rinks; the Club hosted the 2009 Ontario Curling Association Provincial Master’s Championship.

As the club points out, curling is a great way to make new friends; it’s as gentle or as strenuous a workout as you want to make it; it’s stimulating both mentally and physically, and social and competitive events make it more than mere exercise.

In addition to the ice, the club features a 1,500 square-foot lounge, bar and kitchen facilities, and a lower-level meeting room.

New members are welcome; visit their website.

Meaford arena

Right across the street from the Curling Club, Meaford’s arena is a hub of activity all winter long. Step inside just about any time, and you’ll catch hockey action – with everyone from pee wees to pickup games; figure skating; or a chance to strap on your own skates and enjoy regular free public skating.


‘Tis the season

In a small town, the community gathers to celebrate the season in all kinds of ways. Get in the spirit with events like these.

Meaford’s Window Unveiling
Every year, Meaford closes off three blocks of downtown for a pre-Christmas street party. The shops along Sykes Street pull off the paper that’s been hiding their holiday displays, the large tree by Meaford Hall is lit, and the townsfolk gather to visit the shops, enjoy mulled cider and other treats, warm by crackling fires, and enjoy the music of street choirs. Of course, the kids have a special treat as Santa arrives by fire truck to take his place and hear their Christmas wishes.

The Unique Boutique
Bid in a silent auction on unique items and one-of-a-kind experiences – for yourself or for gifts. The fundraiser for the Meaford Hall and Culture Foundation is a perfect way to get something for that tough to please person on your list.

Thornbury’s Olde Fashioned Christmas
There’s always a good chance of snow for this early December event, as the town closes off it’s main street and shops welcome visitors throughout the day and evening.

Festival of Northern Lights
Every year, the banks of the Sydenham River in downtown Owen Sound light up with remarkable lighting displays. Enjoy a magical walk through the lights and finish up at one of the city’s many downtown restaurants.