The holidays are over, snow has settled on the ground, and now there's just one mission to complete: make it through the winter without being swallowed up by inactivity.
While city-dwellers may have a tougher time with this project, the Muskoka-bound are lucky, because there are countless chilly-weather activities to enjoy in Ontario's northern regions!
One wintry physical activity that's particularly fitting for socially-distanced days is fat biking. With a large bike finished with wide, durable tires, you have the opportunity to explore stunning trails solo or alongside those in your bubble.
In addition to being a fun, outdoorsy way to spend an afternoon, fat biking is also a solid workout and -- if done on one of those ultra-sunny winter days -- serves as a great opportunity to soak up some extra Vitamin D.
If you're hunkered down in Muskoka for the winter, or you have a pre-booked trip to the cottage coming up, these are the fat bike trails you'll want to make note of:
Echo Valley Nature and Bike Trails
These trails provide 3.5 km of main trunk line and 14 smaller off-shoots, offering varying degrees of difficulty. The park spans approximately 60 acres, and if you're up for the challenge of reaching it, there's a viewing platform onsite that overlooks the protected land. Parking is available, and visitors are asked to donate $2 to the honour box, which helps cover the costs of trail development.
Address: Echo Hills Road, Dwight, ON
Hours: 24 hours
Torrence Barrens Dark Sky Preserve
This location is worth visiting for a night ride on an evening with clear skies. Reason-being, the view of the stars is absolutely incomparable. Bring your coziest clothes and a thermos full of hot cocoa so after you've worked up a sweat you can hunker down for a while and enjoy the sights overhead.
Address: Southwood Road, Gravenhurst, ON
Hours: 24 hours
This publicly accessible, private wilderness haven is accessible year-round, providing chances to visit 20 private lakes and more than 10,000 acres of mixed forest. The woods contain more than 70 km of hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing trails, all of which can be enjoyed by the public at no charge. This reserve is one you can feel good visiting, as Limberlost practices "Conscientious Forest Management," which translates to ensuring the sustainability of their management objectives and actions for generations to come.
Address: South Limberlost Road, Huntsville, ON
Hours: 9 am to 5 pm, every day
For $20, you can rent a bike and ride the trails on site at Deerhurst Resort. Due to COVID-19, guests are asked to sign their waivers (here and here) in advance. The resort warns that outdoor activities are subject to weather and snow conditions, so be sure to check the forecast before you head out for the day!
Address: 1235 Deerhurst Drive, Huntsville, ON
Hours: 24 hours
Georgian Nordic Outdoor Activity Centre
At the moment, the Georgian Nordic Outdoor Activity Centre (GNOAC) is open only to members, through to January 11 or until further notice. But if you are a member, you're in luck, and if you're not, you can watch the site for updates! COVID-19 screenings are conducted on visitors before they head out to the trails. The GNOAC describes itself as "the perfect place to hone your winter-riding skills on a fat bike."
Address: 4 Nine Mile Lake Road, Parry Sound, ON
Hours: 10 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday; 9 am to 6 pm, weekends
Riverside Bike Park
While currently not offering fat biking opportunities due to COVID-19, Liv Outside’s waterfront location in Bracebridge allows easy access to some of Muskoka’s best paddling, biking, skiing and snowshoeing opportunities -- as such, it can't be missed on our list of must-visits, even if only for reference in years to come. Typically, Liv Outside provides bike rentals alongside opportunities for self-guided or group adventures through the snow. While at this time biking isn't an option, their trails are still free to use and have been packed for snowshoeing, if that's more your style.
Address: 112-114 Southbank Drive, Bracebridge, ON
Hours: 8 am to 9 pm