The Best Ways to Experience Winter in Thunder Bay

Ice fishing, skating trails, and cozy craft beers—this northwest Ontario city is a must for winter adventurers.
A low shot of a kiteboarder being pulled across a snowy lake under a vivid blue marbled sky sky, with snow shooting up behind their board.

In the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, residents fall into two categories: people who love winter and people who tolerate it. For winter lovers, the city and its surrounding wilderness are transformed into a frosty playground once temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall. Situated on the northwest shore of Lake Superior, the area's winter offerings include plentiful ski hills, hiking and skating trails, ice fishing opportunities, and much more. 

Whether you're visiting for a conference, here to see friends and family, or you're a local looking for new ways to get outside—here are all the best ways to experience winter in Thunder Bay. 

Tubing at Mount Baldy

two kids wearing snowsuits and helmets, smiling widely as they ride inflatable tubes down a trail on Mount Baldy on a sunny day
 Mount Baldy tubing—all the best parts of sledding, but the climb is optional! 

For kids and kids at heart, tubing at Mount Baldy is a blast. This family-friendly activity packs a big adrenaline rush for a relatively small physical effort thanks to Mount Baldy’s magic carpet (a big conveyor belt on the hill) that will take you and your tube up the hill. All you need to do is sit in the middle of the tube and slide down—easy peasy! Once you’ve satiated your need for speed, head to the cozy chalet that offers a full menu and licensed bar, so you can warm up by the fire and take in the mountain views.

Skating at Vickers Park

two people skating on an outdoor ice trail, each pulling a baby in a sled behind them.
The skate path at Vickers Park offers a picturesque and relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors. 

Skating rinks are cool, but skating paths add a whole new dimension to winter fun. The 500-metre path at Vickers Park winds through one of the city’s oldest parks. Parking is available on the streets bordering the park and Dolce Coffee House, located around the corner, is an ideal spot for a warm drink and sweet treat (insider tip: if you worked up a sweat, treat yourself to some gelato).

Downhill Skiing at Loch Lomond and Mount Baldy

two cheering kids with arms raised, sitting on a ski lift above a treed ski hill on a sunny winter day. two men wearing winter outdoor clothing, smiling as they roast marshmallows over an outdoor fire on a sunny winter's day.
Skiers of all ages and levels can have an awesome ski day at Loch Lomond.

At its core, Thunder Bay is a ski town with a rich Nordic history that has hosted countless ski jumping competitions at the former Big Thunder National Ski Training Centre and downhill ski races at local hills. The jumps at Loch Lomond and Mount Baldy’s terrain parks are a popular spot for thrill seekers. Both ski hills are serviced by multiple surface lifts and have runs for beginner to expert skiers. They also offer rentals and lessons for all ages.

Ice Fishing with Bear Trak Outfitters, Dorion

a man in winter gear kneeling in the snow and smiling as he holds up a large fish. A red building in the background has a sign that reads "Bear Track Outfitters".
Ice fishing is twice as nice with comforts, thanks to Bear Trak Outfitters.

Lake Superior’s Black Bay is one of the first bays to freeze in the Great Lakes and its rich fishery makes it an ideal location for ice fishing. Bear Trak Outfitters is your best bet for a fun day on the ice—they’ll take you and your gear out to your very own heated ice hut where you’ll find fishing holes inside and outside of the hut. Chances are you’ll take home some nice perch or walleye which tastes terrific pan-fried and served with a local craft beer. Check out Lakehead Beer Company which is a short walk from the Prince Arthur and Delta waterfront hotels.

a glass of beer, some grapefruit wedges and fresh rosemary, next to a signboard that says "Craft Revival Grapefruit & Rosemary Patersbier 4.8%"
Lakehead Beer Company's signature craft brews can make an amazing compliment to a good meal.

Other Don’t-Miss Winter Experiences in Thunder Bay:

  • Snowshoeing—many of the hiking trails around Thunder Bay are popular for snowshoeing, so there’s no need to miss out on iconic views of Lake Superior after the snow flies. Details are available on one of the many trail apps, such as the locally-developed WAYfinder Trails app, or pick up a copy of the Thunder Bay Hiking Association’s trail guide.

  • Fat Biking— go with the flow on the groomed fat biking trails in the Trowbridge Forest and at Mount Baldy, check in with the Black Sheep Mountain Bike Club and Mount Baldy Winter Trail Group for updated conditions.

  • Cross Country Skiing—whether you are a recreational skier or an elite athlete, the Thunder Bay area offers groomed trails for classic and skate skiing at Kamview Nordic Centre and Lappe Ski Club. For an epic adventure, check out the trails, skating path and backcountry opportunities at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

  • Kiteboarding—Thunder Bay is home to an intrepid group of kiteboarders who frequent Whitefish Lake, just west of the city, and Black Bay, east of the city. Follow Superior Kiteboarding to connect with locals for intel on conditions.

  • Ice Climbing—local climbing professionals, Outdoor Skills and Thrills, have experiences for all abilities and interests and can literally show you the ropes at some of the best ice climbing routes in Canada!

a person kiteboarding on large, grey swells on Lake Superior on a cloudy day.
Kiteboarding and snowkiting are ways to really get the most out of winter. // Superior Kiteboarding
About Michelle McChristie

Michelle McChristie is a freelance writer from Thunder Bay and frequent contributor to The Walleye magazine. She is passionate about the outdoors and enjoys exploring Lake Superior in all seasons with her family.

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