Video Series: Winter in Ontario’s Highlands – Skiing at Calabogie Peaks


I’ve always considered myself a non-winter person. It’s not my favourite season and I never look forward to its arrival. No doubt it doesn’t help that I live in Toronto where the beauty of freshly fallen snow lasts for a day before it turns into brown-grey ugliness. I’ve wanted to film a video series about winter activities for a couple of years now. Mainly to showcase what Ontario has to offer for outdoor activities in winter, but secretly to see if I would finally enjoy being outside when the weather dips below freezing. What I discovered through filming this series was that I had been doing winter all wrong.

I partnered up with Ontario’s Highlands to travel around the region trying different winter activities. Spanning the area north of Toronto, south of Algonquin Provincial Park, and west of Ottawa, Ontario’s Highlands is made up of 6 smaller regions; Haliburton Highlands, North Hastings, Upper Ottawa Valley, Ottawa Valley South, Land O’Lakes and Comfort Country. It’s a big area with a lot to offer so I knew I was in for a great experience.

Joining me for this series was my friend Solmaz. We share similar sentiments about winter so we were both in the same boat, hoping our thoughts on this season would be proven wrong. We kicked off our winter fun with something we were both already familiar with – skiing! We drove out to Calabogie Peaks in the Upper Ottawa Valley area ready to get the winter fun started.

Calabogie Peaks Resort

Founded in 1970, Calabogie Peaks is the highest ski mountain in Ontario. Located on the shores of Calabogie Lake, it is a true mountain, lake and land destination, enjoyed all year long. In the winter months, the resort consists of 24 ski trails from beginner to advanced routes and hosts festivals and a music series on the weekends.

After settling in, Solmaz and I headed to the ski rental shop and got outfitted for our day on the mountain. It had been a couple of years since each of us had been on skis, but just like riding a bicycle, we were navigating our way like pros. Since we were here during the week, the slopes were quiet. I could immediately feel the pace of life slow down, away from the hustle of the big city. Many people who lived in the surrounding areas seemed to be out for a leisurely day on the slopes, greeting one another and enjoying the sunny, blue skies. I definitely couldn’t complain about the weather.

Skiing in Ontario
Solmaz taking in the view from the slopes.

When it comes to skiing, I prefer trails that are long and winding and fall towards the easy side of the difficulty scale. I like to enjoy the runs while taking in the scenery, instead of making it a strenuous workout or worrying about crashing and eating snow. Lucky for me, Calabogie Peaks also boasts the longest run in Ontario and that’s where we started our day.

Zigzagging our way down the trail, I fell into a zen-like state. Trees towered above me and the landscape sprawled out in front of me. Not much could be heard except the crunch of snow beneath my skis. It was relaxing and blissful, two words I wouldn’t associate winter with.

Ontario's Highlands Skiing
New skier in the making! Like father like son.
Skiing in Ontario
Fitting in one last run before the sun disappears.

Before I knew it, the sun was dipping behind the mountain and skiers were getting in their last run of the day. It was a successful day at Calabogie Peaks, no falls! As Solmaz and I sat in the outdoor hot tub later that night I couldn’t help but think this winter adventure was off to a great start.

The winter fun continues! Make sure to tune in again next week, as Solmaz and I take our winter activities to new heights!

Visiting Calabogie Peaks

Calabogie Peaks is open for skiing everyday from 9am-4pm. If you’re going to visit, make a weekend out of it! Stay at their hillside hotel featuring a fitness room, mini movie theatre, indoor pool, and outdoor hot tub. Or stay in one of their condominiums that feature full kitchens, fireplaces, and washers and dryers.

Calabogie Peaks Resort

If you’re looking to fuel up before, during or after your time on the slopes, pop into Canthooks restaurant. They offer a wide selection of dishes to choose from. We took one for the team and tried a few of their dishes. We really enjoyed their butter chicken poutine, warm quinoa salad, and wild mushroom ravioli.

The Blackbird Cafe
The Blackbird Cafe

If you want to get off the resort for a meal I highly recommend The Blackbird Café in Burnstown. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Calabogie Peaks and has a menu you’ll salivate over – blue cheese crusted rib eye and maple-dijon salmon filet for dinner and a variety of sandwiches and wraps for lunch. The interior is warm and inviting and is an antique and nick-nak lovers dream, with shelves lined with various trinkets.

Interested in more posts from Ontario’s Highlands? Check out:

  • Pingback: Video Series: Snowshoeing at Wheelers Pancake House and Sugar Camp()

  • Pingback: Embracing Our Wandering Theme: February 2016′s Board Chair Address | OHTO()

  • Pingback: Ice Climbing in Haliburton Highlands, Ontario()

  • MikesRoadTrip

    Hey Arienne,

    Great video…well done. For those skiing shots you might want to
    consider a handheld gimbal…will really improve that footage. I have
    several, so if you want any suggestions, shoot me an email.

    • Arienne

      Thanks Mike! I like the raw-ness of the skiing footage but it’s a good suggestion for future videos. Cheers!

  • Laura Paquet

    Great video! Really brought the skiing experience to life for this non-skier. :-)

    • Arienne

      Thank you Laura! I don’t get on the hill often but I really enjoy it when I do :)

  • Doreen Pendgracs

    You’ve done a tremendous job in sharing the beauty of the Ontario Highlands. I’ve never been to Burnstown but would love to visit.

    • Arienne

      Thank you very much Doreen! I really appreciate that. Burnstown is small but very charming and you can’t go wrong with The Blackbird Cafe!

  • The Curious Creature

    Such a special trip! I also really loved the long and winding trails. Can’t wait for the next vid!

    • Arienne

      Thanks so much! It was the perfect way to kick off our winter fun in Ontario’s Highlands :)

  • TheCuriousCreature

    Such a special trip! I also really loved the long and winding trails. Can’t wait for the next vid!