Winter in the Whiteshell
Winter is the perfect season for coupling up and heading to Whiteshell Provincial Park, a year-round recreational refuge adjacent to the Manitoba-Ontario border. Renowned in summer months for hiking, canoeing, camping and cottages, the Whiteshell in wintertime offers recreation and rejuvenation. Buck hibernation trends and venture outdoors for a frosty and fabulous weekend in the woods.
With a bit of planning, an adventurous spirit and a few layers, you and your sweetie can experience one of Manitoba's most stunning and unforgettable regions. Bundle up and bask in the solitude and serenity of snow-covered surroundings during this dazzling time of year. Embark on a multitude of outdoor activities. Afterwards, relax at a range of resorts nestled amid the icy landscape.
What to do
BACKWOODS TRAILS: Choose winter boots, snowshoes or cross country skis to explore 70 km of groomed trails in the northern Whiteshell area, or more than 40 km along the South Whiteshell Trail System. Traverse different distances from the 2.8 km White Pine trail or 4.8 km Amisk trail to the 8 km Rainbow Falls Hiking Trail or Hunt Lake 12.6 km trail. The challenging 60 km Mantario Trail is the perfect distance for multi-day trips. No matter which locale you get moving on, you'll be moved by Whiteshell's backwoods winter wonderland. www.whiteshell.mb.ca / www.manitobaparks.com
DOWNHILL SKIING: Manitoba's oldest operated ski facility in Manitoba can be found at Falcon Lake. There is something for everyone with 11 downhill runs accessed by three lifts, snowboard terrain, snow tubing, and cross country ski trails nearby. Downhill skis, snowboards and snow tubes can be rented, and cross country skis are available for complimentary use by guests staying overnight at Falcon Trails Resort. www.falcontrails.mb.ca
ICE-FISHING: This favourite winter ritual involves a cozy little shack with woodstove and a few holes drilled through the ice just outside the shack. Each hole is rigged with a small metal unit and fluorescent flag that pops up when something bites the bait down below. Then, simply wait with your favourite person and warm beverages, and watch through the window. Over the course of several hours, a few flags, loads of fun and a little luck, you can enjoy fresh northern pike at your dinner table.
SNOWMOBILING: An activity synonymous with winter, snowmobilers can enjoy more than 250 km of groomed trails in the Whiteshell. A paradise for power-sledders, trails wind through the boreal forest, across frozen lakes and among towering pine trees from one spectacular look-out point to another. Stop and warm up with a snuggle by the woodstove at shelters along the way, and re-fuel with lunch brought in by backpack. Many Whiteshell resorts are located on the trail system, so bring your own machines and get going right from your front door. Select resorts offer machine rentals and snowmobile get-away packages. Find more information on Manitoba's 11,000 km of groomed scenic trails at Snoman (Snowmobilers of Manitoba) Inc. www.snoman.mb.ca
HORSEBACK RIDING: Winter trail rides are available by reservation at Falcon Beach Ranch, where you'll be greeted by the lingering smell of wood smoke and the corral filled with magnificent horses. Your bareback trip into sparkling snow-covered woods cuts through Canadian Shield country, winding through the pine-filled forest, alongside ridges and adjacent to rock faces. Sit back, relax and go along for the ride. Falcon Beach Ranch offers sleigh rides that are perfect for larger groups, romantic rides for two, a ‘wild west' wedding, and overnight trips, complete with blazing bonfire and tasty hot chocolate. www.falconbeachranch.com
WILDLIFE VIEWING & BIRD-WATCHING: Witness all sorts of animals in the Whiteshell winter wilderness including rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, foxes, and maybe even wolves. Area resorts have birdfeeders hanging outside cabin windows, where you can watch grosbeaks, redpolls, chickadees, and whiskey jacks flitter about. Bird-watching guides found on most coffee tables will help you identify different species.
Where to stay
BARRIER BAY RESORT: Situated on Dorothy Lake, Barrier Bay Resort is a couples only adult escape that has been successfully “romancing the Whiteshell” for 55 years. Six lakefront cabins feature whirlpools, fireplaces, satellite TV, and screened porches, with cross country ski rentals available. Enjoy complimentary use of a wicker basket with thermos, red-checkered tablecloth and birdseed, and head out for a winter picnic. Chickadees eat right out of your hand, while the snowy setting warms your hearts. www.barrierbay.com
BIG WHITESHELL LODGE: Nestled in a quiet bay on Big Whiteshell Lake, Big Whiteshell Lodge is a winter wonderland where guests can enjoy cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and ice-fishing. Two and three bedroom cottages come with fully equipped kitchens, fireplace, satellite TV, and large deck with barbeque, while rustic cabins take you back to the basics with simpler amenities. The on-site convenience store keeps you well stocked and ready for anything. www.bigwhiteshelllodge.com
CRESCENT BEACH COTTAGES: At West Hawk Lake's Crescent Beach Cottages you'll find seven year-round cabins. Situated across from the main beach, each cabin boasts a stunning view of the morning sunrise over Manitoba's deepest lake. Choose the deluxe two bedroom that boasts open floor-plan, cathedral ceiling, pine wood finish, gas fireplace, four person hot tub, and deer that love to hang around the front yard. It's so splendid and spacious you'll want to make it your permanent home. www.whiteshell.mb.ca/cbc
FALCON BEACH RANCH: If an overnight stay at a real ranch strikes your fancy, choose one of three chalet log cabins at Falcon Beach Ranch. Each one is nestled amid pine trees and comes equipped with wood-burning fireplace, cathedral ceiling, loft bedroom, screened-in deck with barbeque, three-piece bath, and modern amenities. Your home-on-the-range-in-the-woods is complete with cedar log sauna and outdoor hot tub a few feet from your cabin—especially enjoyable after riding the trails on horseback. www.falconbeachranch.com
FALCON TRAILS RESORT: At the southernmost reach of the Whiteshell is Falcon Trails Resort, with nine cabins on Falcon Lake, two eco-cabins on High Lake, and a welcome centre with conference facilities. The resort provides a home base for self-propelled winter activities such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, and gravity-induced pursuits like downhill skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, and tubing. Complimentary cross country skis are available for use on the trail network, with downhill skis for rent. www.falcontrails.mb.ca
GEORGE LAKE OUTFITTERS: Near Point du Bois on the northern edge of the Whiteshell is George Lake Outfitters. Spanning two acres on the shore of the Winnipeg River, their deluxe cottage has a large open living area, modern kitchen, stand-up bar, and outdoor hot tub with coloured lights, waterfall and stereo. Partake in ice-fishing from the spacious ice shack on George Lake and reel in lake trout, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and whitefish. Return to your cabin for an unforgettable ‘shore lunch' dinner. www.georgelakeoutfitters.com
INVERNESS FALLS RESORT: Relax, reduce stress and rejuvenate with your own private spa experience at Inverness Falls Resort. This year-round playground on Brereton Lake features chalets with hydro-thermal massage tubs and cottages with mineral whirlpool spas. Bring cross country skis to explore the 8 km trail that leads into the shelter of trees, with a warming hut halfway. Try the complimentary snowshoes and blaze your own path through forests and across frozen muskeg and lakes. www.invernessfalls.mb.ca
JESSICA LAKE LODGE: Winter never looked so good at Jessica Lake Lodge, located on the private and peaceful shore of Jessica Lake. Each cottage features wood-burning fireplace, whirlpool bath, sauna, screened-in veranda, satellite TV, rocker recliner in the living room, and fully equipped kitchen. Get out and active on 10 km of cross country trails nearby and 3 km of groomed walking trails. www.jessicalake.com
KEYSTONE RESORT: Situated in the town of West Hawk Lake, Keystone Resort has deluxe two-to-three bedroom cabins, one bedroom cabins with hot tubs, and motel units. The convenience store is truly convenient, with everything from fresh produce, groceries and fishing licenses, to gas bar, movie rentals and souvenirs. Keystone puts you in close proximity to snowmobile trails, downhill and cross country skiing, ice-fishing, sleigh rides, ice-skating, and winter walking trails. www.keystoneresort.mb.ca
NUTIMIK LODGE: Whether you seek rustic or premium accommodations, you'll discover both at Nutimik Lodge on the south shore of Nutimik Lake. Luxurious and cozy retreats await you in the land of forests and freshwater. Try your luck at ice-fishing for pike, walleye, perch, bass, and goldeye. Rent a snowmobile to explore Whiteshell's hundreds of kilometres of trails. Glide down the Picket Creek ski trail with access right across from the resort. Or simply enjoy a walk under the clear, starry winter sky and watch for a glimpse of the Northern Lights. www.nutimik.mb.ca
OTTER FALLS RESORT: Your winter getaway at Otter Falls Resort on Margaret Lake offers snowmobile trails right outside the door of your luxury lakefront cabin. Activities include ice-fishing, hiking, cross country skiing, tobogganing, or simply enjoying the view. Indoors, enjoy the wood-burning fireplace, soak in the bubbly Jacuzzi tub, or thaw out in the large cedar sauna. www.otterfallsresort.com
PINEWOOD LODGE: Find comfort away from home year-round at Pinewood Lodge on Dorothy Lake. Each lakefront chalet features handmade fireplace and staircase utilizing materials from the area, spacious loft bedroom, whirlpool tub, and sauna or Swedish steam bath. The main lodge and conference centre has 16 guest suites, indoor swimming pool, exercise room, and facilities to host events with up to 120 guests. For a special touch, enjoy a complimentary dinner for two on your birthday or anniversary. www.mypinewood.com
RIVERVIEW LODGE: Located east of Seven Sisters Falls on Eleanor Lake, Riverview's six lakefront cabins provide spectacular western views. Each has fully equipped kitchen, satellite television, fireplace, and hot tub or Jacuzzi tub. Rent snowshoes for your own wooded walk-about, set up shop in the ice-fishing shack on the lake, or ski 3 and 7 km trails that start at the main lodge. www.riverviewlodge.ca
TALLPINE LODGES: Exclusively for couples, Tallpine Lodges at West Hawk Lake provide a romantic getaway with private sauna and Jacuzzi. Conveniently located close to stores, restaurants and lounges, you'll find everything you need. Try the complimentary cross country skis for outdoor adventure on the trail network. Be entertained by feathered friends at your own birdfeeder. Mingle with deer that eat out of your hand. Let the winds howl and temperatures drop outside while your love grows indoors. www.tallpinelodges.com
WEST HAWK LAKE RESORT: This four-season destination has comfy cabins in a forested setting, with TV and VCR, fully equipped kitchenettes, barbeque, free firewood and free movies. Venture out for cross country skiing and snowmobiling on nearby trails, take a short drive to downhill ski or sleigh ride, or visit community ice-skating rinks and toboggan runs. Re-stock your supplies at the on-site grocery store and vendor. www.whlr.ca