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7 of the Best Winter Activities in Muskoka

Year-round cottagers and residents know that Muskoka has a secret winter side which tourists rarely see. Cottage country in Ontario is just as much of a playground in the winter months as the summer, you just have to know where to look.

As the days darken and fall recedes, the area is transformed into a show stopping winter wonderland, boasting snow-covered forests, glistening lakes and frosty hillsides.

Whether you’re planning a family outing or in the mood for a bracing hike, here are some suggestions for outdoor winter fun. 

1. Ice skating 

Located north of Huntsville, Arrowhead Provincial Park is one place where you’ll see Muskoka at its wintery best. The park is well-known for its range of outdoor winter activities, which include ski trails, ice fishing and winter hiking.

One of the most popular attractions, however, is the winding ice skating trail that meanders through the snowy forest for 1.3 kilometres. 

The park is generally busy during winter, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation if you’re planning on visiting. You can book online and purchase a vehicle permit up to 5 days before your visit.

The ice trail is open daily from 9am to 5pm, although keep in mind that it closes between 11:30am and 1pm every day for maintenance.

2. Snowshoeing

There are several good spots to strap on your snowshoes in the Muskoka area, but the locals head for the trails around Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville to catch the stunning views around Peninsula Lake. A highlight is the Starlight Trail which lights up from 5pm to 11pm, making it even more magical.

Trails at Deerhurst are open from late December to March, depending on weather conditions.

3. Cross country skiing

Grab your skis and bundle up! Muskoka is home to hundreds of varied cross-country trails suitable for all ages and abilities.

Arrowhead Park and Algonquin Park are the most popular sites, with their extensive backcountry routes, but it’s also worth checking out the Muskoka Bay Resort in Gravenhurst and Bayview Wildwood Resort in Severn Bridge where you’ll find cross-country ski courses for all levels from beginner to experienced. 

4. Ice fishing

Ice fishing is a unique and fun experience. Everyone should try it at least once. Dress warmly, bring a few friends (and a flask of hot chocolate) and it’s an unforgettable day out – whether you catch anything or not!

Muskoka lakes and winter weather conditions can be tough to predict so don’t go it alone. Use an experienced guide, make sure you have the proper equipment and always follow safety instructions. 

Several Muskoka resorts offer ice fishing packages, including Muskoka Shores Cottages on Three Mile Lake where you can rent an ice hut and try your hand at catching pickerel, perch, and large and small mouth bass. 

5. Snowmobiling

Muskoka is one of the most popular snowmobiling destinations in Ontario, thanks to its huge network of more than 1,600 kms of approved trails.

Muskoka Stay and Play combines snowmobiling with ice fishing and ice skating in several of its specialised packages, while its basic snowmobile experience includes 3 hours on the trails, lunch and all gear.

More experienced riders can pick up a rental and head out alone to explore self-guided routes like the 125km Muskoka Magic Loop around Muskoka Lake or the more Northern Lake of Bays Watch trail which covers around 200 kms.

6. Sledding 

A classic Canadian winter pastime, sledding is peak family fun. You’ve two options in the Muskokas – traditional dog sledding or kick sledding.

North Ridge Ranch in Huntsville and Winterdance in the Haliburton Highlands both offer a range of dog sledding tours. But reservations are a must – slots fill up quickly once the snow starts falling.

If you don’t fancy the idea of being pulled around by a pack, ditch the dogs and go under your own steam. Deerhurst Resort offers kick sledding, which is described as ‘a self-propelled dog sled’. 

7. Fat biking

If you thought biking was a summer sport, think again. You can take to the trails on two wheels courtesy of a fat bike – a bicycle kitted out with extra wide tires so it can navigate snowy conditions.

It’s not just a unique way to see winter up close, it’s also a great workout. If you’ve fitness fanatics in the family, rent them a fat bike at Deerhurst Resort and they’ll have a blast sweating it out in the snow.

Each activity and business listed is open with possible pandemic restrictions in place – make sure you call before you go to make reservations and check on the venue’s COVID restrictions and measures. 

Whether you’re new to Muskoka or a longtime resident, Muskoka Window & Door Centre can help you create the perfect lakeside dream home. From door installation to window fittings, we offer a range of home services. Reach out to our team today to see how we can help with your next project.

Sliding Glass Doors: Your Next Cottage Upgrade

The doors in your home or cottage play a huge role in the level of enjoyment you’re able to get out of the gorgeous Muskoka scenery. If you’ve been noticing that your squeaky old screen door just isn’t cutting it anymore or that you’re not quite getting the most out of your view, it might be time to consider upgrading to sliding glass doors.

 

Sliding doors are a sleek, stylish and practical way to maximize your view of the outside world without compromising your own comfort. They offer a timeless aesthetic appeal that will never risk going out of style, and increase the amount of light allowed into your home.

 

The benefits of sliding glass doors

Aside from giving your cottage some much-needed functionality, natural light and unlocking beautiful new views of the breathtaking Muskoka scenery, sliding glass doors offer an aesthetic appeal which will never go out of style. Sliding glass doors have been a staple in contemporary home design for years now, with almost no risk of their popularity fading over time. Sliding doors make accessing the outdoors incredibly easy, opening up your cottage to the patio or backyard, connecting your kitchen to your outdoor cooking area, and allowing you to entertain guests indoors or outdoors in a single motion.

 

A dramatic improvement in air circulation and ventilation is also offered by sliding doors, letting you cool down your home on breezy summer days or keep the chilly weather outdoors in the fall and winter months. Sliding doors are an energy efficient alternative to traditional doors, lowering your utility bills all year round and keeping you and your loved ones comfortable.

 

The most popular sliding glass doors to maximize your view all year long

We’re very lucky to have been able to work with some of the industry’s biggest and best names, allowing our window and door installation experts to get a good feel for what the absolute highest quality sliding glass doors are, and how well they’ll fit your unique personal needs. Some of the sliding doors featured in our showroom include:

 

Western Window Systems’ sliding glass doors, featuring a unique single track system which allows for smooth and seamless operation, the ability to have up to four stackable panels to fit a variety of sizes and openings, a low maintenance aluminum design, and the option to choose a thermally broken aluminum design, perfect for withstanding the harsh Muskoka winter season.

 

The XO Sliding Door by Centor, offering Muskoka cottage owners a grand and elegant gateway to the outdoors. Centor’s sliding door systems feature a sleek, slim wood interior with a low-maintenance aluminum exterior so you can spend more time appreciating the world around you. The XO Sliding Door features seamless gliding operation and a sliding track nearly flush with the floor, keeping accidents to an absolute minimum and putting all the focus on your view.

 

For an extra large view of your surroundings, Bigfoot offers functional and stylish sliding doors with an insulated aluminum design, seamless lift-and-slide system for smooth operation, and so much more. Bigfoot’s sliding doors are manufactured with harsh weather in mind, built to withstand the nastiest Muskoka winters and the harshest summer weather. These windows are water tight, can reduce sound, and are available in a gorgeous panorama design for cottage owners looking for a floor-to-ceiling door system to knock your socks off.

 

The showroom at Muskoka Window and Door Centre is home to some of the best sliding glass door systems on the market, and our team is well-versed in what doors will meet the unique needs and budgets of all Muskoka home and cottage owners. To find out more about our full lineup of sliding glass doors, get in touch with us today.

Stay Cozy This Winter With Energy Efficient Windows

Winter is here, are your windows ready?

The season of snowstorms, plummeting temperatures, and icy rain can be a challenge for Muskoka homeowners, exposing every leak, gap, and crack in their lakeside cottages.

If you find yourself shivering at night or feeling a chilly breeze indoors, it’s time to get those windows checked. If they’re not energy efficient, they’re not keeping out the cold and they’re certainly not keeping down your heating costs.

What are energy efficient windows?

Every part of your window, from the frame to the pane, has to be tough enough to keep out the weather. 

Energy efficient windows are designed to reflect heat in the summer, while keeping it indoors during the winter. Double panes are best for maximum protection and choosing environmentally sustainable materials such as reclaimed wood for the frame can further improve your green credentials.

If you’re not sure how efficient your windows are, look for the Energy Star logo. This certification shows that the product has met the necessary energy efficiency standards required in North America. Both Canada and the US use the Energy Star program so it’s recognized by manufacturers on both sides of the border.

Energy Star windows are around 20 percent more efficient than the average window, and Energy Star skylights are 35 percent more efficient. The accreditation’s highest level, Energy Star Most Efficient, can further boost efficiency by as much as 55 percent.

Those energy savings will be quickly felt in your bills – cutting an average of 12 percent off your heating costs each year. 

And with the government eager to promote these kinds of schemes, they also offer attractive incentives to homeowners who go green. Use Energy Star products and you may qualify for rebates or incentives to further drive down your spending.

Installing your energy efficient windows

Selecting your windows is only half the battle. Without proper installation, they can very quickly become just as inefficient as regular models, not to mention setting you up for structural problems down the road. That’s why it’s crucial to use a professional installation firm that can guarantee high-quality work.

Muskoka Window and Door Centre works with the best manufacturers in the business to supply and fit industry-leading energy efficient windows in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. 

One of our most popular suppliers, Andersen Windows & Doors, has been working with the Energy Star program for over two decades and doesn’t just offer Energy Star windows, but also carries a range of energy efficient frame materials and panes. 

Our team works year-round so don’t worry about waiting until spring. Getting your new and improved windows installed in the off-season means less disruption and more chance that you can book an appointment to suit your schedule instead of languishing on a spring/summer waiting list.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade a few windows or redesign your space to be more energy-efficient, we can help. Get in touch today to see how we can transform your Ontario cottage country retreat.