Magical Winter Walks A Short Drive From Toronto

Another year of extreme temperatures leaves us craving the warmth and makes us want to hibernate for the rest of the season. Opting for indoor activities can be expensive experiences and can get old fast. However, taking a picturesque hike outside is a lot easier and more affordable than you might think and definitely worth your time.

All of the parks suggested below feature their own unique attractions. Spend the morning or an afternoon on a romantic stroll with your significant other or with your family. If you’re single, take your dog or grab a couple of friends and plan a day trip.

As Canadians, most of us have the gear needed to protect us from frigid temperatures. So, instead of watching from inside, go brave the cold and allow yourself to experience these wild natural sights. I recommend you go there when the snow is still fresh (still snowing a bit or snow that just fell in the last few days) and when the temperature has just dropped below or around zero Celsius. Be careful not to stand on frozen bodies of water unless you are certain they are fully solid (I’ve made that mistake too many times). Also, the majority of parks welcome dogs as long as they are leashed, so bring your best four-legged friend, too. Go out there and explore these dreamy winter backdrops.  You won’t regret it.  

Here are my current suggestions for the most magical and unusual parks to visit during winter that are not too far of a drive from Toronto (or located in Toronto): 

Rockwood Conservation Area

Rockwood Conservation Area
Location: Rockwood, Ontario
Adults (15-59): $7.50 | Seniors (Ages 60+): $6.50 | Youth (Ages 5-14): $3.00 | Children (4 and under): Free

This year is my first time visiting Rockwood Conservation Area in wintertime and there are many different aspects of it that make it unique. Check out the ruins covered in snow (which are still magical even with the renovations happening right now) or the small waterfall freezing over, situated right near it. Make sure you visit the limestone cliffs at the beach, which become an even more stunning sight to see in the winter. The entire lake freezes over and – at your own risk – you can hike to the lookout point which gives insane views over the entire park. 

Kortright Centre For Conservation

Winter Trails
Image via Instagram/@conservatory_group

Location: Woodbridge, Ontario
Price: Adults (15-59): $8.50 | Seniors (Ages 60+): $6.50 | Youth (Ages 5-14): $3.00 | Children (4 and under): Free

Located in a highly forested area, imagine yourself surrounded by white snow-frosted trees, tons of trails blanketed in sparkly white just waiting for you to explore. If you are looking for a short trail with amazing views, the Lookout Trail is your best bet. Otherwise, make sure to take the Ridge Trail, which will give you the real feel of the entire park, even though it might take you a bit longer to complete.

Silver Creek Conservation Area

Image via Instagram/@3nature3lover3

Location: Halton Hills, Ontario
Cost: Free

If you’re looking to find those incredible frozen falls you keep seeing on Instagram, this is the place to go. You’ll find fewer people than at most of the parks in Hamilton and still get those prime views. Take in all the unique features, from ice caves to frozen streams and ponds. There are a ton of trails to choose from depending on how much time you have. The well-maintained paths lead you on top of the escarpment where you can take in the sights of the rolling Halton Hills.  It’s the perfect place to get away from it all.

Crawford Lake Conservation Area

Crawford Lake Conservation Area
Image via Instagram/@photosbyshellycalvert

Location: Milton, Ontario
Cost: Adults (15-64): $7.75 | Seniors (Ages 65+): $6.75 | Youth (Ages 5-14): $5.50 | Child (4 and under): Free

Once you pay the entry fee, you have free access to ALL Halton parks for the day. Check out the Iroquoian Village to educate yourself on First Nations history in a unique outdoor learning experience. Take a peek at the Deer Clan longhouse if you’d like to see current art exhibits, or just play a round of snow snakes. 

Head to the Hide and Seek trail, where you will find unique wooden sculptures which stand out in the white snow. The frozen lake can create some interesting patterns when it’s freezing over, which is perfect for photographers. Enjoy a “Moonlight Guided Snowshoe Hike” under the stars, followed with a warm hot chocolate by the fire. If you are looking for something more extreme, try cross-country skiing or shoe shoeing on the Pine Ridge Trail. Since the pathway isn’t maintained in the winter, you’ll be able to get in some first tracks and be surrounded by frosted pine plantations. It’s a great winter workout!

York Regional Forest

York Regional Forest

Location: Richmond Hill, Ontario
Cost: Free

Open all year-round and only a 45-minute drive from Toronto, this park is a must-see during the winter season. Walkthrough magical forests with over 120 kilometers of trail to explore.  With so much land, it’s the perfect place for finding new landscapes each time you go. Spend your day wandering through multiple trails by mountain bike, snowshoes or cross-country skis. Most of the trails are relatively easy but offer you a different view at every angle. There is even an off-leash trail for dogs and their owners!

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

Winter Trails
Image via Instagram/@jenn.the.explorer

Location: Mono, Ontario
Price: Free

This park is technically closed for the season, but still makes it on my top winter picks. It’s likely you will find more peace and quiet this time of year than usual. With several trails, lookout points, icy caverns, and frozen lakes, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is worth the effort getting outdoors. Plan to spend two to three hours there if you want the entire feel of the park. Choose between pathways that lead you through thick forests or areas with open fields. The lookout platform is a must-see for vistas over the escarpment of the countryside. Their main trails are easy to medium in difficulty, so you have choices.

Heart Lake Conservation Area


Location: Brampton, Ontario
Cost: Free (park on side street if possible)

Although it’s a popular spot during other seasons (a must-see when the leaves are changing), winter at Heart Lake Conservation Area is extremely peaceful due to the lack of maintenance on the trails during this season. Don’t be fooled by the closed sign. It just means you won’t really have to worry about running into people this time of year. Make sure to proceed with caution and be certain to wear the proper footwear, as it can get really slippery. You will see snow-frosted branches and interesting patterns forming on the frozen lake. Choose between pathways that lead you by the lake and through the forest, or boardwalk bridges that give you a view over the park. You can’t go wrong with either choice.

Colonel Samuel Smith Park

Image via Instagram/@rhyzas

Location: Etobicoke, Ontario
Price: Free (Paid Parking)

Enjoy frozen winter landscapes at this waterfront park, located right on Lake Ontario. The natural ice sculptures that the arctic temperatures created, look like they are straight out of National Geographic.  The well-maintained park features architectural gems, an amazing figure-8 skating trail, and is also one of the best spots to scope out birds in the area. It is a great place for dog owners as it has an off-leash dog park for your pup to socialize. You can get a nice long walk if the wind chill isn’t too brutal.

Evergreen Brickworks

Everegreen Brickworks

Location: Toronto, Ontario
Cost: Free (Paid Parking)

If you live in Toronto, you don’t even need a car for this one! Did you know you could take a shuttle bus to the Evergreen Brickworks? My favourite park in Toronto is a must-see in all seasons, boasting tons of eco-friendly activities happening on a constant basis, endless hiking opportunities, stunning views of the CN Tower and a highly-rated cafe to sip a latte on colder days. With the park extending into other ravines in the city, its easy to discover new trails and get a decent workout.

Belwood Lake Conservation Area

Belwood Lake Conservation Area-1

Location: Fergus, Ontario
Price: Adults (15-59): $7.50 | Seniors (Ages 60+): $6.50 | Youth (Ages 5-14): $3.00 | Children (4 and under): Free

Belwood Lake Conservation Area is a peaceful and underrated park to visit. Walk along the dam which will give you stunning views over the flowing Grand River and valley far below. There are 3.3km of trails to choose from or snowmobiling and ice fishing when the lake is completely frozen. It’s also a great place to bring your dog.


Disclaimer: All information and prices are accurate as of the time of the posting. All opinions expressed are completely my own. This post is not sponsored. 
*All images are copyrighted Julia Melcher (@adventureontario) or credited to their owners. Please do not use or re-post without written consent and provide credit where applicable

One comment

  1. I cannot tell how greta this is. I have been looking a long time for a list like yours, that is SO INFORMATIVE, so well-researched and… SO useful!! —- I am a fan of your blog! You are the only one doing this, and I applaud you for it

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