Looking for some adventure this winter?
Hamilton’s built-in outdoor playground makes it easy to actually love the season of snow and ice.
Nestled between the shorelines of Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment – with its many trails and frozen waterfalls – the city is a natural destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Here are our favourite ways to enjoy the best of the season on two skates, or snow shoes, or skis…
1. Float Through Fresh Powder in Showshoes
There’s nothing better than that feeling of being the first on a trail after — or during — a fresh snowfall. Snowshoes get you out walking in the woods without it feeling like a slog when the snow is especially deep.
Head down to Cootes Paradise and along the Waterfront Trail (before it’s cleared) or choose to explore a section of the Bruce Trail which winds its way throughout the city.
If you don't have your own pair, snowshoe rentals are available at Adventure Attic in downtown Dundas throughout the winter.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, wait for a new snowfall and head out at night. Bring a headlamp, but it’s likely the snow will be bright enough to light the way!
2. Glide Through the Woods on Cross-Country Skis
Christie Lake Conservation Area is a great place to bring your cross-country skis for a little trail action. Routes are multi-use and self-set. After working up an appetite, you can hit The Tiny Shop Bakery directly across the street from the gates for some well-earned, freshly baked goodies to take home (they’ve got a variety of sweet and savoury pies to choose from).
Nearby Valens Lake Conservation Area offers 10 kilometres of cross-country trails and, if you’re REALLY into winter, they offer winter camping.
The Dundas Valley Rail Trail is another great place to cross-country ski because it just keeps going and going. Technically you can glide all the way to nearby Paris!
3. Climb a Frozen Waterfall
Yes, you read that right. Once Tiffany Falls in Ancaster freezes over, members of the Alpine Club of Canada and those taking a climbing course with adventure company OneAxe Pursuits are allowed to scale it.
It’s Hamilton’s own Game of Thrones and it’s as awesome as it sounds.
Also, feel free to enjoy Hamilton's many wintry waterfalls from the ground with help from our Waterfalls Guide.
4. Practice Your Figure Eights at an Outdoor Rink
For a unique outdoor skating experience, head to Pier 8 and glide your way across a waterfront rink overlooking Hamilton’s historic harbor. Warm up with hot drinks and snacks from Williams Coffee Pub.
Beautiful Dundas Driving Park is home to another popular outdoor rink, maintained by a Zamboni for optimal surface conditions. An onsite concession stand will help fuel you.
And if you want to skate where locals in the know do, head to Cootes Paradise for a true Canadian outdoor experience. Practice your figure eights and catch a game of shinny at this frozen marsh and treasured Hamilton winter go-to. (Check for up-to-date ice safety conditions).
5. Hike Your Heart Out
If a winter, snowy hike is what you’re after — there’s no better place than Hamilton to hit the trails. Thanks to the Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve) that cuts through the city, we’re blessed with endless forested trails to choose from.
Check out our year-round guide to Hamilton’s Hottest Hiking Trails and choose from easy to reach trails and even walks past frozen waterfalls!
6. Winter Disc Golf
Try your hand at Hamilton’s newest outdoor winter offering: Disc Golf, now available throughout the winter (November to March) at King’s Forest Golf Course.
The newer sport sees players complete a hole by throwing a disc from a tee pad toward a target or basket. The player with the lowest number of throws at each hole wins!
Discs are available to borrow or purchase on site.
Tara Nolan is a Dundas-based freelance writer with a passion for exploring the outdoors. Tara loves to write about mountain biking, gardening and other active pursuits for a variety of print and online publications. Follow her on Twitter @thattaranolan and Instagram @tara_e.