Snowshoeing is an ideal winter activity in many ways because it doesn’t take ideal conditions, it is inexpensive, and it is easy to do just about anywhere. While many people appreciate the sport for its simplicity as a get outdoors and be active kind of outing, others need more. If you’re looking to get children and teens to fully embrace the fun of a snowshoe outing, or have friends who need a reason to get out, experiential tourism with Yours Outdoors may be the answer.
Located in the Haliburton Highlands in central Ontario, Yours Outdoors is focused on providing people with more than an outing. Experts in Experiential Tourism (not just seeing something but immersing yourself in it and becoming a part of it), the company and its guides have been bringing the outdoors alive with their unique and customizable packages since 2004.
Haliburton Highlands is one of the most beautiful settings in central Ontario. Famous as a tourist and cottage area, the region shares the same remote natural beauty as its neighboring Algonquin Park, combined with 600 lakes and rugged hills that gave it the highlands name (comparable to the Scottish highlands and named by early settlers).
The region boasts a strong visual and performing arts community, miles of cross-country ski trails and miles of hiking trails, perfect for snowshoeing. Many of the trails are connected to local resorts, making them very accessible, and in some cases providing stopping places along the way.
The Highlands are filled with bed and breakfast lodgings, small and larger resorts and cottage opportunities so it’s possible to find a variety of options to make a snowshoe trip here into a weekend or even week-long getaway adventure.
More than a Tour
Under the direction of Experience Broker and company owner, Barrie Martin, all of Yours Outdoors’ adventures are designed to incorporate elements of the art, culture, heritage and nature that make up the region. Martin himself uses his more than 28 years’ experience as an educational specialist backed by a degree in wildlife biology and a keen interest in the highlands to create outings that are educational, engaging and filled with local history and highlights.
Many experiences are supplemented by experts in a variety of fields who bring authentic and distinct flavor to the adventure. While some packages have been pre-planned, Martin takes pride in creating unique and interesting custom packages to suit the group, time of year and specific interests.
One pre-set package Martin created for the regional government is called the Story of Snowshoes. This experience includes time with local snowshoe collector Craig MacDonald who shares stories about his incredible collection of heritage snowshoes, followed by a hike and the opportunity to personally compare both traditional and modern snowshoes. For a family or a group of people just being introduced to the sport, this is a great way to explore the idea that snowshoeing is about more than an aided winter walk and is a chance to connect to the history and craftsmanship at the heart of the sport.
During the Art and Syrup of Maple experience, participants take a snowshoe hike through a sugar bush to check out modern and traditional methods for collecting and processing the syrup. When the spring snow is too soft for skiing and the lake ice too thin for skating, this is a great way to spend a warm, late winter, early spring afternoon outdoors.
Martin’s Family Fun on Snowshoes experience can include active games, animal tracking and role-playing games. Experiences like this provide a great snowshoe introduction for kids because they will be engaged, entertained and active.
Another experience, called Walk into Winter, can be planned for either a full or half day. Customizable, as with everything else, the tour might include a glimpse at the history of snowshoes, a hike with tips on winter travel and survival along the way, and a campfire with a bush lunch for a truly authentic feel.
For a really unique outing, the Heritage Adventure includes a snowshoe walk to a fur trade post and a visit with an 18th century fur trader who will take you back in to Canada’s history with stories and a traditional meal of baked beans, wild rice and bannock (a traditional flatbread).
More than Just a Day Trip
For those who are looking for more of an adventure, overnight and weekend outings are a great way to fully experience nature and the region.
“Snowshoeing itself has merit,” says Martin. “But when you can add in education and interpretation, it makes it more than an activity. It makes it an experience.”
He says he gets requests from school groups who use his programming to make curriculum come alive, from families looking to create unique memories, and from groups of friends looking for an experience beyond the ordinary.