Located within one of Canada’s 16 UNESCO biosphere reserves, just a two-hour drive from Toronto, the Scenic Caves Nature Adventure and Nordic Center is a self-described “winter playground” featuring 27 kilometers of trails, a 420-foot suspension bridge and stunning views of the Georgian Bay. Uniquely situated at the highest point of the Niagara Escarpment, a majestic plateau that runs through the Great Lakes region and includes the famous cliffs over which Niagara Falls cascades, Scenic Caves delivers an elevated Nordic center experience and fun for all ages.
Originally believed to be a gateway to the afterlife by native cultures due to its deep crevices and sky-high rock formations, the Scenic Caves began welcoming tourists to explore its awe-inspiring natural wonders such as cliffs, caves and waterfalls in the early 1930s. Later marketed as an eco-park open only during the warm summer months, Scenic Caves Nature Adventures opened a Nordic Center in 2002 with 27 kilometers of well-marked and maintained trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, with 8 kilometers designated just for snowshoers. This season, the adventure park will clear an additional 2 kilometers of snowshoe trails to keep up with increasing demand from visitors.
Most trails are easy to moderate in difficulty and wander through a 200-year-old forest of thick maple and oak trees. Catching a glimpse of wildlife such as owl, deer, porcupine and rabbit is a common occurrence and makes for a memorable trek. For a real challenge, try the expert-rated Ironman trail that leads to a breathtaking scenic outlook point—if you have any breath left after such a steep hike. The Suspension Bridge Trail is not to be missed, and is not for the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights. Soaring above the valley and bay below, Southern Ontario’s longest suspension foot bridge offers panoramic views of the Georgian Bay and the plunging cliffs that exemplify this world-renowned escarpment zone. For a truly exhilarating trek, sign up for the Saturday night guided tour. You’ll be handed a headlamp, a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a load of information about the area’s history and wildlife by a knowledgeable guide who will lead you through the woods, along creeks and across the suspension bridge under a sky full of sparkling stars.
After your hike, warm up in the rustic chalet where you will find a snack bar offering soup, sandwiches and non-alcoholic beverages as well as a gift shop with handy wares like winter weather apparel and souvenirs. Many visitors opt to bring a brown bag lunch in their pack for trailside picnics with a view.
Although Scenic Caves can easily be visited during a day trip, those planning a longer stay can arrange accommodations at one of hotels, inns, resorts or even campgrounds in the area, many of which have waterfront access to the bay. Many places offer “Stay and Play” packages that may include breakfast, trail passes, tour packages or complimentary rental equipment. For overnight guests, purchasing the “Ski 3 Passport” for just $35 will allow you to explore neighboring Wasaga and Highlands Nordic centers in addition to the Scenic Caves.
Interested in snowshoeing for a good cause? The Scenic Caves Nordic Center plans to host the popular “Romp to Stomp” event on February 15, sponsored by Tubbs Snowshoes, to help raise money for breast cancer awareness. Last year’s race attracted approximately 500 snowshoe participants and raised about $50,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
Whether you’re seeking a fun place to take the kids or to experience a unique geographic phenomenon while gaining the health benefits of fresh air and aerobic exercise, the Scenic Caves Nordic Center has it all.
- Pass Rates: $19 adults 18+; $15 ages 65+ and 17 and under; Free for kids under 6. Half-day, 3-pack, season passes and mid-week discounts also available.
- Equipment Rental: $35 adults 18+, $31 ages 17 and under and 65+, $12 for kids under 6. Mid-week discounts available.
- Pet Policy: No pets allowed
- Lodging: Available off site only
- Dining: Lunch, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase. Outside food permitted.