10 Ways to Embrace Winter in the Madawaska Valley

Whether you prefer riding the network of OFSC trails that crisscross the Valley or snowshoes and cross country skies are more your speed, if you are an ice angler or you prefer watching the snow fall through a picture window while enjoying dinner at a cozy table, read on for ways to embrace winter in the Madawaska Valley!

  1. Dedicated snow enthusiasts will no doubt nod in agreement as I recommend the OFSC trails as incomparable. If you thought the views from the highway were spectacular, which they are, just wait until you explore a little further! Take in breathtaking views of frosted landscapes as you tour mountainous trails that offer a uniquely enjoyable experience. Check out the OFSC Trail guide online to see what trails are open, and purchase a seasonal, or temporary trail pass. Pick up a map at local businesses like the Shell gas station on Highway 62, or Esso at the intersection of Highway 60 and 62. A highly recommended ‘must see’ is Trail 511, with a view of Burnett lookout.

New to riding or don’t have a sled? Valley Adventure Tours has you covered. Offering guided rides, and rentals, Steve will get you out on the trails and riding like a pro.

  • https://www.snowcountrysnowmobileregion.ca/
  • Check the trails (there’s an app for this) https://ofsc.evtrails.com/
  • Purchase a trail pass: https://www.ofsc.on.ca/
  • Valley Adventure Tours : https://www.facebook.com/ATVparadise/
  1. Incorporate dinner or even an overnight getaway into your trail ride! The Wilno Tavern is a classic must-visit when in the valley, and easily accessible from the trail. Located in Canada’s first Polish Settlement, you can’t pass up the chance to experience a taste of authentic Polish cuisine. Order the “Pierogi Platter” and enjoy a view of the heritage park across Highway 60 as you enjoy your meal. Planning an overnight adventure? Spectacle Lake Lodge offers private cabins and delicious dining with access to trails, just a short drive from Barry’s Bay. In town, check out my personal favourite, the deep-fried cheese curds at the Ash Grove Inn, paired with local craft beer (Whitewater Brewing’s Farmer’s Daughter is my favorite) and overnight in one of their comfortable and modern rooms. Just up the road on Highway 62 is the Pinewood Inn, conveniently located next to the Shell station for your fueling and snacking needs. If you are venturing toward Combermere, a new local favourite is the Heartwood Restaurant. The atmosphere is in the name, a warm and cozy licensed establishment with roots in the community, and delectable dining choices sure to ignite your taste buds.
  2. Prefer to catch your own dinner? The abundance of freshwater lakes in the Valley offer up innumerable choices for your angling adventures. You can purchase a one-day fishing license if Ice Fishing is something new for you and take a guided expedition with hut and equipment supplied by Valley Adventure Tours. Remember, always check the thickness of the ice, and if you are fishing somewhere new, make sure you know where weak spots are.
  3. Slow down the pace, and feed your Fitbit some steps snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on one of the trails. Bring your camera along and capture some wildlife photos. Add Bonnechere Provincial Park, Carson Lake Provincial Park and Crooked Slide Park to your list.


  1. The Madawaska Valley is home to outdoor rinks in Combermere, Barry’s Bay and Wilno. Nearby Killaloe and Round Lake each offer outdoor rinks as well. Swing by Madawaska Coffee or Tim Hortons for a hot chocolate, Tea or Coffee on your way, and spend an afternoon or evening playing pickup hockey, or just reacquainting yourself with the magic of gliding effortlessly across a surface of glass.
  2. Catch some minor hockey or enjoy a public skate at the PJYCC, with treats and hot beverages in house. You won’t find more appreciative players than our local hockey stars when they look up and see you in the stands.
  3. If keeping warm while exploring is more appealing, pack some hot chocolate, pick your favourite playlist, and take your favourite person for a road trip. Explore some favourite summertime destinations and enjoy the changing winter landscape.
  4. Check out local events like Paint or Sign Making Nights. Look up Mad Valley Signs and the Heartwood Restaurant on Social Media for upcoming events.


  1. Pamper yourself and beat the winter blahs with a trip to one of the local spas or salons. A fresh cut, manicure, or pedicure, can brighten even the most overcast day.
  • Trends Salon: https://www.facebook.com/TrendsSalonTraciCybulski/
  • Eve’s Escape Spa: https://www.facebook.com/evesescapespa/?ref=br_rs
  • Maggie’s Massage Therapy. Peaceful Moments – Therapeutic Results https://www.facebook.com/Maggies-Massage-Therapy-Peaceful-Moments-Therapeutic-Results-234601599918404/
  • Heavenly Touch Spa https://www.facebook.com/heavenlytouchspaerinplebon/
  1. Go sliding! Channel your inner child and take to the hills on a crazy Carpet! After that first face full of snow, it gets better. I promise.

Pro Tip: If you are considering making the Madawaska Valley and surrounding area home, or already call it home but are thinking of moving, spending some time with me is guaranteed to be a worthwhile investment.

You can reach me by direct line at 613-633-3226 and by email at ann@613properties.com


Photo Credit: Valley Adventure Tours

Thank You: Randall Dunlop – OFSC Trail Information and recommendations.

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