When you explore the forest after dark, your senses come alive. You can hear everything more clearly, your crisp footsteps, animals making their way through the bush, the wind in the trees. You can stop, turn your headlamp off, and look for constellations, the Milky Way, shooting stars and if you’re very lucky, the northern lights. It’s a completely different experience than daytime explorations.
Grey County is home to an endless array of winter activities, here are 8 ways to get outside after dark:
Night Skiing at Blue Mountain
Ski or Snowshoe at Scenic Caves
Ski the track-lit Sawmill cross country trail
Sunset horse-drawn sleigh rides
Skate under the sparkling lights
Take a Free Spirit Tour in the dark
Spend the night under the stars
Warm up at Scandinave Spa
If you’ve ever driven along Highway 26 near Blue after dark, you’ve seen the lights blazing from Blue Mountain’s 30 lit night runs. Skiing or snowboarding after dark offers great conditions with often shorter lineups and a brilliant view of the lights in downtown Collingwood. Night skiing runs from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Head to the Village for après ski food and drinks too.
The crew at Scenic Caves offer guided night snowshoe hikes. Available by reservation on most Saturday nights, as well as a Wednesday March Break hike, a professional guide will lead you on a 1 and a half to 2 hour hike through a mature forest to lookouts along the Niagara Escarpment. Lit only by headlamp, snowshoeing the Scenic Caves trails after dark is a unique experience.
You can also try a non-guided night cross-country skiing by headlamp. With 10 kilometres of trails open, Scenic Caves is offering extended hours until 8 p.m. Bring your own headlamp or rent one on-site and always ski with a buddy.
At the Sawmill Ski Trails in Hepworth, the Jackrabbit Loop is lit for night skiing. This short loop meanders through rolling land, sheltered by hardwood and evergreen stands. Get some exercise under the stars. On February 20th, Grey Bruce Nordic is presenting a Moonlight Ski from 7 to 11 p.m. Bring a headlamp and ski by the light of the moon, then enjoy catered treats for $20 per person.
Dual Acres near Shallow Lake offers romantic horse drawn sleigh ride for two, or a larger sleigh that holds 10-12 people. You'll enjoy a 40 minute ride through groomed bush trails under the stars, and warm up wtih some hot chocolate in the shack afterwards. Call ahead to reserve the sleigh of your choice.
Skating in an arena is one thing, but skating on an outdoor rink is a truly Canadian experience. There are 2 outdoor rinks in Grey County that are lit for night time skating: The Good Cheer Rink at Harrison Park in Owen Sound and the rink beside Stothart Hall in Priceville. (Please note that the Mill Pond Rink at Blue Mountain is now closed for the 2017 season) . Pack a thermos of hot chocolate, bundle up and hit the ice for a memorable winter evening.
The folks at Free Spirit Tours will also take you on a guided snowshoe and add their own special touches. If you have a group of four or more, call Jennie and the team and they’ll choose a nighttime snowshoe route, complete with a midway bonfire and apple cider.
For the ultimate nighttime winter experience consider spending the night at Atelier Arboreal – a winter camping retreat near Wiarton. Sit by the fire; enjoy a gourmet meal and then bundle up in a heated tipi for the night. Enjoy the onsite ski and snowshoe trails in the evening or after sunrise the next day
Rejuvenate, revitalize and relax in the Scandinavian Baths at Blue Mountain’s Scandinave Spa. Open until 9 p.m, these hot and cold baths along with the eucalyptus steam bath, Finnish sauna and relaxation areas are an even more unique experience at night. Relax under the stars with the distant lights of Blue Mountain’s night skiing runs in the distance. Visit on an Unwind Wednesday for a discounted rate.