5 tips for sharing the winter trails

Many parks have well-maintained trails for winter use.

Knowing the proper etiquette and rules for use helps to keep them safe for cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and hikers alike.

1. Read the signs

Most parks have specific rules for their winter trails. These include one-way trails or trails that only allow certain kinds of equipment such as cross-country skis.

adult and child in front of trail sign

These trails are designed with the safety and enjoyment of users in mind as well as the volunteers and staff maintaining them.

2. Don’t hike or snowshoe on groomed ski surfaces

Volunteers and staff spend countless hours, often in the wee hours of the morning, grooming ribbons of packed and track-set trails for skate skiing and classic skiing.

Snowshoeing and walking on these trails can make the trails dangerous for all users.

grooming machines on snow

Snowshoes with crampons and winter boots can create holes and ruts in the snow that then freeze over and create unsafe conditions for skiers. Even dogs can create large divots on the groomed surface, which is why they are not allowed on many winter trails.

Many parks allow non-skiers to the side of these groomed surfaces, or have designated trails for walkers and snowshoers.

3. Try not to hike or snowshoe on ski tracks

woman snowshoeing near trees

On non-maintained trails that are shared, snowshoers should keep to the side and try to avoid stepping on skier tracks.

4. Share the trail

Faster skiers always have right of way. If you are slower, then step out of the trail to allow the faster skier to pass.

ruts in snow

A faster skier may also yell “track!” to ask you to yield right of way.

If you meet on a hill, the skier going uphill should step to the side to yield the trail to the skier coming down the hill.

If you need to stop for any length of time, step out of the track and away from the trail to allow others to pass.

5. Stay safe on your winter travels

Before you leave home, check our Ontario Parks Snow Report for the latest conditions.

boy skiing

Avoid crossing over bodies of water, travel with a buddy, and make sure someone else knows where you are and when you plan on returning.

Bring water and snacks with you, too!

Follow these and other posted rules on winter trails to keep trails safe and enjoyable for all users.