Snow Updates

We have many members who have homes or cottages near our trail system, so we will receive frequent Snow Updates on the condition of the trails and how much snow we have.  Our trail system covers a vast area and conditions can be quite variable from one location to another due to snowsqualls that come off Georgian Bay.  It would not be uncommon to receive three feet of snow in one area while another area would receive six inches depending on which way the wind is blowing, so the club will travel to the area most favourable depending on the conditions.  The conditions can vary greatly compared to other ski areas such as Kolapore and Copeland Forest, but generally due to the more northerly location and predominant westerly winds, our trail system will hold its snow the longest.

  • 07 Jan 2019 4:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We were pleasantly surprised to see how much snow were on the trails and didn't think they would be skiable,  however, yes, they were.  It was not as much snow as we're used to, but it was still fine although you needed to be careful if there were any exposed rocks in places.  Of course, we also complain when there's too much snow because it's slow going breaking trail!  Snow on ridges and open forests were good.  If you were in the hemlocks, the snow was very low and not skiable, so had to make your route selection take into account the type of forest cover.  Some groups skied about 50/50 trails/marsh type areas, while the snowshoers went wherever their legs took them.

    Marshes were mostly frozen with a good thick layer, but where there's running water, it was still open in places.  Some of the bigger lakes, you could still see quite a bit of open water.

    We had two snowshoe groups, one group using snowshoes, the other a mix of snowshoes and icers.  The ground was pretty firm with snow on top, but not so much that you would sink too far down.  You did want to have some type of claw on your feet, along with your poles.

    We had 37 people out for our first bus and whether you were a skier or snowshoer, all the groups seemed to have a very good day.

  • 05 Jan 2019 11:34 AM | Anonymous member

    Had great conditions skiing the lakes, ridges and ponds near Gravenhurst!

  • 03 Jan 2019 11:14 AM | Anonymous member

    So much for the big storm! Muskoka saw mostly rain, until the wee hours of New Years Day when the cold air returned, accompanied by a bit of snow. Fortunately we lost little snow during the thaw, and the 1 cm or so of new snow became securely frozen into the remaining base and pond ice.

    Markus and I headed back up to the Hardy Lake area on Wednesday for a full day of bush crashing and pond skiing. There was bright blue sky, and just a bit of wind, which with the minus 2 temperature, was noticeable.

    Conditions were fantastic, we skimmed down the ponds and marshes with ease, experiencing good kick and glide. As we rounded the first corner a wolf, or large coyote bounded across the open space, quickly disappearing into the cover of the forest. Unfortunately this was all the wildlife we saw for the day. As usual, however fresh animal tracks were everywhere.

    Skiing the bush was OK, although the shallow, or total absence of a base made it a bit ‘picky’ going. Surprisingly, the open ridges seemed to hold onto the old snow with 15 of more cm of solid snow in most places. As we skied southwards the bright blue sky began to get cluttered with clouds, signaling the arrival of our next snow maker.

    Lunch was on an elevated rocky area overlooking a scenic pond and a few beaver dams. We relaxed for a bit, not really noticing the cold temperature. The sun was still making an appearance, creating a pleasant break.

    Our afternoon route took us back northwards, following a parallel chain of ponds. It was nice to have such good conditions, and not even having to think about slush. The sun was now completely covered by cloud creating a more dull atmosphere.

    This route did, however, bring us to a flowing stream, one which presented us a challenge crossing it on a previous outing. Today we continued further up, hoping to cross via an old beaver dam. There was too much flow here as well, forcing us to take a more precarious route on some icy rocks a bit further downstream.

    After a successful crossing we continued on through the remaining ponds back to the car. The sun came back out for a short bit creating a beautiful contrast between the golden trees and the dark clouds behind. It was another great ski day despite the thin snow cover.

    A link to pictures, a video, and a map of the route:
  • 27 Mar 2018 7:15 AM | Anonymous member

    A friend from Five Winds, Peter, was available for a day of exploring. With good conditions in the Muldrew area on Sunday, I thought it best to go back today. Temperatures were cold, but were expected to rise dramatically during the day.

    It was another day of bright sunshine, with not a cloud to be seen. We were off skiing before 10AM, skiing through the bush on a frozen hardpack. Ponds were fast, but had a granular surface providing good kick and glide. Today’s challenge was to come up with a route to cover as many of the wetlands without duplicating our route. 

    Ridges were mostly bare, so our skiing was limited to the wetlands, ponds and forested areas. Sun exposed shorelines were opening up, but ample places still existed to get onto the ice when approaching from the north. All other areas were solid with even some powder in shaded areas. 

    By lunch the winds were picking up, but with the warmer temperatures now, were not a problem. We had a good and relaxing lunch break, deciding to ski another loop further to the east during the afternoon. 

    The afternoon temperature warmed up significantly, resulting in large puddles forming everywhere, not deep enough however,  to cause any issues. 

    A mystery though ... fresh, or recent ski tracks were visible in most of the ponds and marshes on this side. We were not alone? There was a solo track, but later on we came across what appeared to be 2 sets of tracks, both going in the same direction.

    Out to the cars by 5 PM. Another great day of spring skiing. Hopefully the upcoming wet weather won’t end things. It will probably push us northwards however. 

    Peter noticed a couple of animals running up into the woods far ahead of us at one point (otters maybe) otherwise, no other wildlife sightings while skiing. I did drive past a beaver, sitting on a log in a stream beside the road, chewing on a sapling. He didn’t budge as I drove by.

    A link to pictures, a video, and a map of the route:

  • 26 Mar 2018 8:48 AM | Anonymous member

    I managed to sneak in a 2 hr ski this afternoon. Great conditions ... and warm temperatures! 

    A link to pictures, and a map of the route:

  • 28 Feb 2018 4:05 PM | Anonymous member

    "Almaguin Jeff” came down to Gravenhurst for a short day of “flat” skiing. I wasn’t sure how the day would pan out, with a dark gloomy sky, and light rain in the forecast. Radar, however, showed the patchy precipitation dissipating as it moved over us, so the decision was lets go for it.

    We started off again from Peninsula Road, following our tracks from yesterday for a kilometre or so, before branching off to a route more down the west side, following the ponds and ridges there. At one point we had a view off to the west, away from the plateau. 

    By this point the dark gloomy skies had cleared right off, bathing us with warm sunshine! Off came more clothing layers. To think I almost cancelled the day due to the weather forecast!

    We found a good spot against a cliff for a relaxing lunch out in the warm sun, listening to the melt going on, and the occasional groan of the pond ice. We checked out a cave, but couldn’t see well enough inside if there were bearcubs and a mom. I certainly wasn’t going in any further. 

    After lunch we headed further down this pond, before making a turn to the east to pick up another pond system, which would be our return route. The snow is still good, except on south-facing slopes. Here the snow is either completely gone, or consists of narrow skiable patches. Other areas have up to a foot of corn snow.

    We were back at the car by 2 PM, thinking that the season is not over yet! 

    Thanks for coming down Jeff, great day!

    A link to pictures, videos, and a map of the route

  • 25 Feb 2018 9:16 PM | Anonymous member

    The morning started out dull and ocercast with freezing rain and mist, but the day was not lost. Conditions showed a clearing trend which would provide us with a mild and mostly sunny afternoon. The winds, however would not be pleasant, gusting to 60km.

    Skiing this afternoon was a possibility. Bryce emailed me mid-morning regarding yesterday’s ski. I mentioned I might get out again today. He was up for it and ready to go by 12:30, as was Markus. Today we thought sipping a cold beer by a fire, might be a nice addition, especially if it got quite warm.

    Like yesterday, ski conditions were great. One major difference was that the pond ice had a softer surface, providing both kick and glide (and a rest for our arms) unlike yesterday. We meandered around the local ponds, skied on late yesterday, looking for a nice sheltered and sunny spot to take an extended break, settling on an area between some beaverdams. We had to be careful walking around in the snow, as there was water beneath, and unlike our skis, our boots went through.

    Soon the fire was roaring and we sat back relaxing in the warm sun. Now if the wind would just let up, and maybe the puffy clouds would thin out as well, conditions would be perfect. Eventually, however, the sun sank behind a large white pine, providing us with unwanted shade. Hmmm, either we move the fire, cut down a 100 year old pine with a small handsaw, or we pack up and go for a ski. 

    Skiing it was, first douse the fire, and then decide how far we should attempt to go. It was already 3:30, but we still decided on a loop further to the west, knowing that we had until 6 for daylight. We had headlamps if need be, maybe.

    Great conditions, still, although the snow was softening in many places creating some instability. Then there were the flowing creeks, one which determined our route as for some time it was too wide for us to straddle, or attempt to jump across.

    We arrived back at the car by 5, with plenty of daylight still left. A great afternoon ski!

    The snow is thinning, and the pond ice is getting a bit sloppy. Hopefully the cold nights forecasted will actually materialize to save our conditions.

    A link to pictures, videos, and a map of the route:

  • 24 Feb 2018 7:54 PM | Anonymous member

    Conditions are still hanging on!  Off-trail skiing was fantastic today, … maybe blissful would be a better description! 

    Awakening to the sounds of water still dripping down the downspout early this morning had me concerned. The temperature obviously didn’t get too far below freezing overnight, if at all. Maybe skiing would be a bust today, of course the only way to know for sure is to go for it.

    Both Markus and Elaine Robbins were keen to come out. I had thought about going further north towards Parry Sound, but with the conditions, and some late day time constraints, felt it best to stay closer to home. With receding snow banks providing more shoulder exposure, roadside parking was probably fine today. 

    We started at the beginning of the Devils Gap Trail, just outside of Gravenhurst, with the idea of skiing a loop between here and Hardy Lake Park. There would be lots of lakes, ponds and open ridges to ski, criss-crossing routes taken previously, from the Hardy Lake end of the area.

    Conditions were fantastic! (oh ya, I said that already) We skimmed across snow covered ridges, having to occasionally alter out route to some rocky spots. The snow was getting softer, with the warmer conditions, but we still remained on top, and with good kick and glide. When on the ponds and lakes, well, arm and shoulder muscles were essential, and if in working order, provided the needed thrust to reach “warp speed”. Kilometre long stretches of ice were completed in minutes.

    We didn’t see much of the forecasted sun until after lunch, but when it came out, wow! … suddenly sore muscles and signs of fatigue vanished … well, maybe not entirely. Did I say blissful? Point the skis in any direction, we could go anywhere!

    We saw lots of animal tracks, including some of ours, from recent skiis. There were impressive examples of amazing flexability (or maybe loss of communication with one’s skis), as well as some “dorky”  "Mr. Keebler elf" poses. When putting on sunscreen at home, first thing this morning, I inadvertently pulled up my tuque up, causing it to push out my ears. The reaction from my wife, Elaine prompted me to attempt the same pose later in the day, when cameras were available.  Then there was a geocache, one of many in the area.

    Ice conditions, from a safety perspective, seemed fine, and of course I had to test the elements when close to water just to see … even jumping up and down barely created a ripple in the adjacent water. Sadly, these conditions will deteriorate rapidly over the next week.

    A great day exploring the outdoors on skis, and staying warm and dry!

    A link to pictures, videos,and a map of the route:

  • 19 Feb 2018 7:47 AM | Anonymous member

    Another great day skiing with Five Winds! 

    Seeing the 2-4 cm of fresh snow on the ground when I woke today made me change my plans where to ski today. I had planned to take a group from the Hardy Lake area, and ski a meandering route through the numerous pond systems and rock ridges over to Nine Mile Lake Marina, but with the warm temperatures I had concerns about clumping. Saturday’s ski, which, while was pretty good, still lacked the firm surface needed for “leisurely” long distance skis. Now, add a stick layer of new snow to the mix, and we might have a real challenge getting to our destination on time.

    I boarded the coach bus with several others who were also waiting here in Gravenhurst. There would be were five of us in my group skiing today, starting off with most of the others at the Marina. We were skiing by 10:30, heading southeasterly down the lake. We followed well packed snowmobile tracks before turning off and climbing a ridge up into the ponds and ridges east of the lake. There were strong trail breakers in the group, allowing me a bit of a rest from “pushing snow”. We had to keep a good pace to keep up with these guys, strong and fast skiers! Unfortunately the dreaded clumping came on suddenly and progressed slowed. Now it was often better each of us breaking our own trail rather than following someone else.

    We turned northeasterly now, eventually crossing the rail line and entering a large spruce bog. A waxing break was needed, or the rest of the ski would be more of a walk. This provided some relief as we continued on towards our entended lunch spot, a sheltered spot against a rock cliff in a narrow area at the end of a beaverpond. I noticed more breached dams along our route today. There were some nice canoeing spots in here, hopefully the beavers will rebuild.

    We had a nice rest at lunch, adding copious amounts of liquid wax to our skis before we ate, giving it more time to dry, and maybe last a bit longer. The sunshine we hoped to bask in kept being blocked by the puffy clouds, which were also helping keep the snow from getting wetter (and more clumpy). Best to keep the snow more skiable, and forego the “tan"

    We had better glide after lunch, and rather than continue up the various ponds to the northwest towards the marina, we turned northeasterly, skiing into the Torrance Barrens. There were plenty of packed tracks through here, which we followed for a bit, before turning westerly towards the marina. We still had plenty of time to get back, however time seems to race faster as the day goes on. Best to be early, and have the option to explore closer to the bus, then having to rush and be late.

    We did have time to spare, and continued through some local ponds before dropping down on Nine Mile Lake. We crossed (and skied a short distance) along one of the ski trails before heading out onto Em’s Bay. We could see several skiers coming down the lake, the convergence of several ski groups finishing off another great day outdoors!

    A link to pictures, and a map of the route:

  • 17 Feb 2018 6:02 PM | Anonymous member

    I wondered if I would have a good ski today. I waited until after lunch to go out, and of course, by then the clouds rolled in! No one else was too excited about the prospects of a tough trail break, so I was going solo today.

    A quick drive to Hardy Lake, and I was clamping my bindings and heading off the south side snowbank by 12:30 ish. The recent “mini-thaw” did little to consolidate the soft portion of the snowpack into the supporting base. There was barely even a crust, more like a thin layer of brittle sponge toffee on top of 15 cm of soft marshmallow. To my surprise, however,  conditions were not too bad. I did sink, but not too deep, and there was glide. I also had our old packed down tracks to follow for some of the route.

    Once off the first marsh, I left the packed track and broke a new trail. I moved along without too much effort, following some light alder marshes and hardwood valleys, heading towards a cluster of ponds to the southeast.

    A time check indicated I was making good progress. As I result I continued further southeast towards Pigeon Lake, targeting a amall “L” shaped marsh. Between the next long pond and this marsh, I came across some old solo tracks which were not mine. Again I wondered who else was out here enjoying the countryside.

    Once at the end of the “L” pond I decided to push a track further southwest, towards the bottom of one of the small lakes in the area. I knew I could make better time, once I came across our tracks from earlier outings, so I didn’t worry about where I was for now. Soon the long marsh forming part of the lake came into view. I followed it part way, before, again, heading back into the bush to meander about.

    Once on the next lake, I skied a recent snowmobile trail, and soon after, our old tracks. With progress being fast now, and I turned again, heading west past the large erratics over to the pond with the heronry. Turning northeast towards the next pond I came across a beaver, stripping bark off of a large fallen tree. I managed a few quick pics, before he spotted me, and disappeared into the water.

    From here I explored the north side of the stream, rather than follow the tracks up the south side. It was nice to see the sun out again with blue sky. If we could somehow stop that storm with the heavy rain forecasted on Monday I’d be very happy! However …

    I picked up our tracks in the next pond, following them back to the car, arriving shortly after 4PM. A surprisingly nice afternoon ski!

    A link to pictures, and a map of the route:

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