There’s more to Canadian skiing than Whistler, the Powder Highway, and Northern Rockies! For skiers and snowboarders in the more populated eastern part of the country, Ontario’s topography and the Great Lakes combine to offer some great skiing without the distance or expense of heading west. Here are our seven favorite Ontario ski resorts!
Due to COVID-19, safety measures were put in place by the Province of Ontario which impacted the 20/21 ski season. These included mandatory mask-wearing, physical distancing and recommended 14-day self-quarantine when arriving in or returning to Ontario. The provincial stay-at-home order in January 2021 required ski resorts to temporarily close for approximately four weeks. This was later reinstated in early April due to rising COVID-19 cases. While open, resorts including Blue Mountain and Horseshoe managed provincial restrictions through increased sanitization and cleaning standards, reducing capacity on the mountain and requiring advance lift ticket purchases. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
The third most popular resort in Canada and only two hours from Toronto, Blue Mountain also ranks as one of the country’s most family-friendly ski areas. There’s an extensive array of terrain, including wide groomers, bumps, and off-piste tree runs, so everyone in the family will find something to their liking. There are even terrain parks with everything from beginner rails to super-pipes! The resort’s location lends itself to powdery lake-effect snow, and there’s plenty of snowmaking so the conditions are usually reliable. When you’re done shredding the slopes for the day (or if there are some non-skiers in your family) the bustling and charming village is home to a wide array of condos, spas, pubs, dining, and shopping.
Perched on the Canadian Shield, Searchmont boasts one of the best vertical drops in Ontario at 700 ft. It features plentiful natural snow thanks to nearby Lake Superior. The area’s unique geology gives each of the 21 runs its own character, and there are terrain parks for the freestylers. The resort has upgraded its dining and other amenities, grooming, and even snowmaking. Even without the lake effect, you can feel confident about finding good snow! It’s not convenient for many Ontarians, with Toronto more than 7 hours to the south and east and Ottawa even farther. But local skiers and those who make the trip will enjoy the unique terrain and the authentic hospitality!
There’s more to Ontario skiing than the Toronto area. Calabogie Peaks is just over an hour from Ottawa, Canada’s national capital. But it’s not just a token entry on our list for folks in Eastern Ontario: Its 780 ft vertical is the biggest in the province! Its 24 runs are a nice mix, so there is something for all ability levels, and they’re served by two speedy quad lifts. Even though the resort can get crowded, the lift system keeps people moving. It makes for a great day trip from the capital. With dining, lodging, après, and off-piste activities available, it offers people in Eastern Ontario an excellent destination resort, too!
With more than 680 ac of skiable terrain and a variety of 29 trails, Horseshoe Mountain offers something for everyone. About an hour and a half drive from Toronto, it even offers plenty for people who don’t ski (or who at least need a break). There’s tubing, fat biking, skating, and snowmobiling, as well as well-regarded Nordic skiing trails. And if all that’s too much, there’s also a spa. While separate beginner areas aren’t unique, Horseshoe Mountain has been consistently praised for its instructional programs, making it an excellent choice for getting into the sport!
At Mount Saint Louis, it’s all about the skiing! Located in Ontario’s snow belt, the resort also features Canada’s most advanced snowmaking system, so conditions will be good when you visit. Although it only covers 170 ac of skiable terrain, there are 35 runs across the Mount Saint Louis and Moonstone slopes – not too shabby for an eastern resort. There’s a dedicated area for beginners and terrain parks for freestylers. The base area is quite limited, but the nearby town of Barrie offers shops, galleries, and plenty of dining and bars. Horseshoe Mountain is nearby and another excellent choice for lodging, especially if you’d like to combine your visits!
Another smaller ski resort that’s only 45 minutes from Toronto, Glen Eden’s three chairs and four surface lifts serve a dozen runs. Though most trails are intermediate, some of the runs are steep and potentially present a more attractive option for more experienced skiers and riders. There’s also a terrain park. The resort is at a low altitude, and there’s no snowmaking, so the snow conditions can vary considerably. But it’s another extremely convenient place for Toronto and the surrounding communities, and its combination of affordable tickets and night skiing make it a fun choice to get some turns after work or school!
Only one hour from Toronto and close to Horseshoe Valley, Hockley Valley offers 30 ac of skiable terrain, 16 trails and a terrain park. There is a dedicated beginner area with surface lifts, and a longer beginner run accessible from one of the two chairs. With its modest vertical, some of the designated intermediate runs should be within a confident beginner’s grasp, too. Although there are designated expert runs with some steep aspects (including a double black), adventurous skiers might be underwhelmed. Still, the convenience for people in and around Toronto is hard to beat!