Haliburton County has hundreds of kilometers of trails for a variety of sports. You can spend weeks hiking and exploring the trails in the area, and still not see half of what the Highlands have to offer. The most popular trails in the area for non-power sports, such as hiking or biking, are in the Haliburton Forest. There are over one hundred miles of natural worn trails to explore, allowing you to take a different path every time you go. In the summer people can be seen on the trails every day on their bikes or with back packs on hiking through with friends and family. Throughout the summer months there are various races and events held on the trails for competitive bikers and runners. The Haliburton Forest Festival is one of the largest music festivals in Ontario. It brings in world renowned artists, and people from all over the country to Haliburton County. It is held in mid-August at the Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve. The spectacular venue and event are enjoyed every year by locals and tourists, so be sure not to miss it! During the winter months, the trails are used primarily for snowmobiling, dogsledding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. These trails are a huge tourist attraction in the area, bringing vacationers from across the county. If you are in the area on an Ontario holiday or even just a weekend getaway, be sure to look into the trails at Haliburton Forest for excellent outdoor activities.
Something different to try in Haliburton County is the horseback riding at South Algonquin Trails. Horseback riding can be a terrific addition for vacationers and tourists looking to add something new into their Ontario vacation. South Algonquin Trails has offered wilderness trail rides to visitors for years, providing a unique experience for all ages. They are located between Haliburton and Bancroft, just at the southern point of the Algonquin Park. The horseback trail riding offers a wonderful new adventure along the trails through the forestry and wilderness for all guests. So next time you're up on a Haliburton family vacation, come out for a half day ride at the South Algonquin Trails.
For those who are looking to trail ride with some power, Haliburton County offers miles of interwoven trails throughout the forests for snowmobiles and ATVs. Many years ago, there was a railway going through Haliburton County. The railway itself has long been removed, but its path through the area has become a main vein for snowmobile and ATV trails. There are near endless possibilities for trail riding ATV getaways. The trails are monitored and maintained by the Haliburton ATV Association, with trail wardens on duty to ensure proper safety and emergency services in the summer time. During the winter, the snowmobiles take over the rail trails.
The Haliburton ATV Association is the largest ATV associations in the World, and they provide complete care for the trails in the spring, summer and fall. They are in charge of all of the maintenance work that goes into keeping the trails accessible and safe. The trails total over 1700km. It is very important for all tourists and locals when you use the trails to abide by their rules, which can be found at their website, www.haliburtonatv.com. The rules are set in place so that you can enjoy the trails safely, while respecting local land owners and without being destructive to the environment.
Practicing safety is absolutely crucial when trail riding. If you are out on a Haliburton County ATV trip with some friends and you end up lost or in trouble, being prepared could save a life. Always pack extra food and water, clothing, and a cell phone. If you have an ATV get stuck or if you are lost, do not hesitate to call for emergency assistance, local police and HATVA search and resue are prepared for these matters. A local trail warden can come out to provide any help you need, be it a winch to unstuck an ATV, or guide you back through the trails. Although the local authorities are prepared for this scenario it is always best that you try to avoid it. By sticking to well-marked trails that are within your skill range you should be able to have both a safe and fun Ontario ATV trail ride. Trail passes can be purchased online on the HATVA website.
When the snow comes in and blankets the trails, the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association take over trail grooming and monitoring. They are out every day with groomers keeping the trails safe for everyone. There are 580km of snowmobile trails throughout Haliburton County which they maintain. Similar rules apply for the trials in the winter as the do for summer. It is always important to respect the environment and not litter when out on a snowmobile trail ride through Haliburton. Also, many of the trials run through private property to access the railway and some lake chain trails, so always make sure you stay on the marked trail. Keep in mind that snowmobile trail riding involves a different license than driving an ATV or car, so it is imperative that before going out on a trail ride that you have your snowmobile licence on hand, as police and wardens do monitor the trails.
In the winter, it is always important to pay attention to the ice thickness across the lakes. The ice is often only thick enough for snowmobiles to cross from January through to mid-March. The HCSA pays close attention to the ice thickness in the winter months and keeps updates on their website for snowmobilers. Although many of the locals may be familiar with how the ice behaves on the lakes in the winter, it is important for all vacationing tourists to consult with the local associations to make sure the trails are safe before a day of snowmobile trail riding. If you are unsure of the conditions, and don't have access to the HCSA website, you can always check the ice conditions for yourself. Use an ice auger to test the thickness of the ice, and if you find it is more than 5” thick, then you will be safe to bring your sled out on to the ice. Always remember to stay on the marked trails when travel across frozen lakes. The thickness of the ice may vary due to currents and pressure cracks, which can be disastrous for sledders. If you make sure to keep on the trails, and not stop on the ice, you will be able to safely enjoy you snowmobile trail ride through the Haliburton Highlands lake chains. For more information on Haliburton snowmobile trails and safety, visit the HCSA website at www.hcsa.on.ca.
Snowmobile trail riding can be one of the most exciting activities for the winter time in Haliburton County, but it is important to plan your trips ahead, and always err to the side of caution. Always pack things like extra clothes and safety equipment for a trail ride. In winter, night can creep up on you, and with the winter night comes drastic drops in temperature and visibility, so prepare for these sorts of things.
The trails through Haliburton Highlands are there for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are powering your way through on an ATV or snowmobile, or taking your time to enjoy the wilderness and wildlife by hiking or snowshoeing, there is something there for everyone. Your outdoor family vacation in Haliburton awaits. Just be sure that when you are up visiting the trail while on a Haliburton vacation, you respect the environment. Do not harm the wildlife or litter, and always be respectful of private property owners.