9 Best Places to go Skijoring in Ontario

These parks and trails are perfect for ski enthusiasts and their canine companions.

Skijoring is a combination of cross-country skiing and dogsledding, the perfect way to enjoy winter if you like cross-country skiing and own one or two reasonably athletic dogs. The sport requires simple equipment, including basic nordic ski gear along with a waist belt, line and dogsled-style harness for your dog. One of the biggest hurdles is finding where to go skijoring; dogs are not allowed at most cross-country ski areas, so it’s important to look for indications that skijoring is allowed. Check websites or call to ask. Golf courses, frozen lakes, multi-use non-motorized trails and urban parks also make excellent places to go skijoring with your dog in Ontario.

To streamline your search we’ve identified some of the best places to skijor in Ontario. We’ve focused on Northern Ontario, but there are certainly plenty more opportunities for skijoring. Ottawa, for example, boasts one of Ontario’s most active dogsledding and skijoring clubs with dedicated trails available for members at Larose Forest, just south of the city. Check out canicross (trail running with your dog) or bikejoring (cycling with your dog) if you live in places with less reliable snow coverage. This article will help you plan a trip north to try skijoring when you and your pooch are ready.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Skijoring is allowed at this epic Northern Ontario cross-country ski destination, located about an hour east of Thunder Bay on Highway 587. You must be in control of your dog (a skijoring towline counts as a leash) to access Sleeping Giant Provincial Park’s 50 km of groomed nordic ski trails. There’s something for everyone at Sleeping Giant, including easy trails in the vicinity of Marie Louise Lake that are perfect for skijoring for beginners as well as the long and adventurous Pickerel and Burma loop trails, which venture far into the park’s backcountry. The Sifting Lake Trail is a designated off-leash area. On-site accommodations include one pet-friendly cabin. You can also book a cabin at nearby Beyond the Giant Nature Retreat, located on Lake Superior’s Black Bay.

  • Thunder Bay is a nordic skiing mecca and you’ll find plenty of places to rent cross-country ski equipment, including Petrie’s Cycle and Sports, Rollin’ Thunder and Fresh Air Experience.
  • Check out the collection of skijoring and dogsledding equipment and make local connections at Chaltrek, a Thunder Bay outdoors store.
  • Kamview Nordic in Thunder Bay offers a 2.7-km dog-friendly ski trail that’s perfect for skijoring.
  • Thunder Bay boasts plenty of pet-friendly accommodations, including the Best Western NorWesters Hotel.
  • Thunder Bay Skijoring is a Facebook group with plenty of local connections, including more places to go skijoring and other dog-friendly suggestions for visitors to the city.
two dogs harnessed for skijoring stand in front of an ice fall in winter
Explore by skijoring. Photo: Jodi Paul // @loki.and.luna.of.the.north

Arrowhead Provincial Park

One of central Ontario’s preeminent nordic ski areas offers a dedicated trail for skijoring. Arrowhead Provincial Park is located off of Highway 11, just north of Huntsville and about 3 hours from the GTA. A 1 km loop is groomed for you to discover the joys of skijoring with your dog. Make sure you book early to score Arrowhead’s only dog-friendly cabin and enjoy the rest of the park’s winter attractions, including a popular skating trail through the forest. On-site cross-country skis rentals are available at the Arrowhead Provincial Park Visitor Centre.

  • Many of the park’s snowshoe trails make for great Fido-friendly hiking, just be sure to bring a leash and keep your dog under control.
  • Huntsville is the capital of Ontario cottage country and you’ll find several options for fine dining year-round. Check out the Artisan House and Tall Trees Muskoka for dinner menus with local flair.
  • Deerhurst Resort is pet-friendly and provides many options for winter hiking with your well-behaved dog.

Hersey Lake Conservation Area

The Mattagami Region Conservation Authority administers the Hersey Lake Conservation Area, located 5 km north of Timmins on Highway 655. You’ll find many trail options that are open in the winter for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and skijoring with your dog—a popular destination for members of the Timmins Dog-Powered Sport Association. Better still, the Hersey Lake trails connect to the impressive 55-km Timmins Recreational Trail Network, which is open to all forms of non-motorized use.

smiling woman skijoring with a black dog in winter
Adventure with your best friend. Photo: Dean Heliotis // @deanheliotis

Algonquin Provincial Park

Central Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park is undoubtedly one of the province’s most popular year-round outdoor destinations. In the winter the park maintains a dedicated groomed trail for dogsledding and skijoring: The Sunday Lake Dog Sled Trail provides dozens of kilometres of skijoring opportunities, with multiple loops located off the Highway 60 corridor in the southern half of the park. You can also check out the Old Railway Bike Trail for an ungroomed experience that’s best in shallower snow conditions. This wide corridor stretches from the Mew Lake Campground on Highway 60 to Rock Lake, offering 16 km of skijoring potential with gentle hills and pleasant views. The Mew Lake Campground remains open year-round for winter camping, with one pet-friendly heated yurt available.

  • Cross-country skiing and winter camping gear is available for rent at Algonquin Outfitters on Oxtongue Lake.
  • Check out Oxtongue Lake Cottages for year-round, pet-friendly accommodations on Algonquin’s western doorstep. The frozen expanse of Oxtongue makes for great skijoring when ice conditions are safe.
  • Huntsville’s Happy Tails is a nearby pet resort that offers skijoring instruction.

Quetico Provincial Park

Northwestern Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park, located on Highway 11 near Atikokan, is an excellent destination for skijoring and dogsledding thanks to its groomed ski trails and the option of exploring vast frozen wilderness lakes, as well as the region’s epic winters. Start with the groomed ski trails at the Dawson Trail Campground, a good choice for beginner skijorers. More advanced skijorers may wish to set off across frozen water bodies (be sure to inquire about ice safety first), including Batchewaung Lake and Nym Lake. Snow conditions are often best for lake skiing in March, when sunny days and cold nights create a hard surface that’s perfect for skate-skiing with your dog.

woman poses with dog while skijoring along winter trail
Experience the rush of skijoring in Ontario. Photo: Jodi Paul // @loki.and.luna.of.the.north

Mabel Lake Backcountry Trail

A 14-km out-and-back backcountry ski trail to Mabel Lake is one of the most popular places to ski with your dog in Sault Ste. Marie. Dogs are not allowed on the immaculately maintained classic and skate-ski trails at the nearby Hiawatha Highlands, but the occasionally groomed Mabel Lake backcountry route is a perfect destination for skijoring. The first half of the trail is flat and twists in and out of boreal spruce bogs and a scenic wetland area. Get ready for some serious hills in the second half, where the trail climbs up and over the Canadian Shield to the remote shores of Mabel Lake. Access is via Connor Road, near the junction of Landslide Road and Sixth Line, about 15 minutes north of downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Although trail passes are not required, it is recommended that you stop at the Hiawatha Highlands in the Kinsmen Building to buy a day pass and support the maintenance of this excellent trail. Cross-country ski rentals are also available.

  • The 25-km Hub Trail in Sault Ste. Marie includes several sections that are suitable for skijoring or simply walking with your dog, with the 2-km section through Fort Creek providing glimpses of the Northern Ontario wilderness hidden in the city core.
  • One visit to the Breakfast Pig on Bruce Street will have you raving about the best way to start your day in Sault Ste. Marie. Unfortunately pets are not allowed.
  • For dog-friendly accommodations near the trails, check out Glenview Cottages on Highway 17.

Nature’s Harmony Ecolodge

This Mattawa-based resort welcomes adventurous humans and their four-legged friends with cozy, eco-conscious accommodations (including chalets, cabins, domes and yurts) and great trails for skijoring and snowshoeing. At Nature’s Harmony Ecolodge you can discover over 20 km of well-groomed, dog-friendly trails in the rugged landscape surrounding the historic Ottawa River. A traditional wood-fired sauna is also available.

  • Pets are also welcome at the Canadian Ecology Centre, an outdoor education facility with 32 cabins and plenty of trails along the Mattawa River, in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.
  • Visit Myrt’s Restaurant in Mattawa for diner-style fare and homemade pie.
two people cross country skiing with a dog in winter
Head out onto the lake at Minaki Yurt Adventures. Photo: Minaki Yurt Adventures

Rushing River Provincial Park

The 16 km of dog-friendly, well-groomed ski trails at Rushing River Provincial Park, located about a half-hour drive east of Kenora on Highway 17, exemplify everything that makes Northwestern Ontario such a skijoring paradise. You’ll find something for everyone, including flat trails for beginner skijoring, as well as longer loops and out and back trails up to 6 km in length. It’s easy to fill an entire day exploring the area’s boreal forest, wetlands and lakes with your dog. A daily park pass is required to use the trails. Reach out to the local skijoring community on Facebook to join a group event.

  • The Kenora area is a winter playground with countless options for cross-country skiing, skijoring, snowshoeing and winter hiking. For starters, the vast expanse of Lake of the Woods offers skijoring opportunities right from downtown when conditions are safe (February and March are usually best). You can also check out the easy 5 km Vernon Nature Trails, west of Kenora off of Mackenzie Portage Road.
  • Minaki Yurt Adventures offers unique pet-friendly accommodations year-round, with access to a 20-km network of ski and snowshoe trails.
  • Cross-country ski rentals are available from Ski Kenora.

Windy Lake Provincial Park

The Greater Sudbury Area boasts an abundance of cross-country skiing options, but you have to sift through to find dog-friendly trails for skijoring. Windy Lake Provincial Park, located 45 minutes northwest of downtown Sudbury on Highway 144, is a good place to start. The park’s 15 km groomed ski trails are open to well-behaved dogs so it makes a good destination for skijoring in Sudbury. The trails are maintained by the Onaping Falls Nordics Ski Club, and ski rentals are available at the clubhouse buildings on weekends. Trail passes are required.

About Conor Mihell

Conor Mihell is an award-winning environmental and adventure travel writer based in Sault Ste. Marie. Read his work in the Globe and Mail, Explore, Cottage Life, Canoe & Kayak, ON Nature, and other magazines and newspapers. He's been a sea kayak guide on Lake Superior for close to 20 years, and has paddled from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. 

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