Who knew winter would be so popular in Ontario’s cottage country?
The people at Arrowhead Provincial Park near Huntsville, Ontario did. In fact, opened in 2018 is the new Visitor’s Centre, with floor-to-ceiling fireplace and inside the ‘warm up’ area, designed to efficiently rent skates, cross-country skis (skate or classic style) and snowshoes to thousands heading north from Toronto to enjoy some Great White scenery and snow sports.
To answer your next question: yes, all Ontario provincial parks are dog-friendly (leashed) and Arrowhead does one further … skijoring with the dog. But more on that soon.
First, at Arrowhead you can run your pup along any of the 15 km of winter hiking trails including the easy 1 km walk from the Visitor’s Centre parking lot to Big Bend Lookout, a panoramic view of the circular Big East River oxbow and sand deposit reshaping the river each year. In the last 15 years, the wooden viewing platform has been moved back three times.
Can you stay overnight with the dog?
Sadly no, one thing you can’t do in the winter with the dog at Arrowhead is stay overnight, which is a shame because the park has several ‘roofed accommodations’ opened during the winter months. So rustic and cozy, it’s easy to picture your fur baby curled up next you beside the wood burning stove under a classic Hudson’s Bay blanket.
Each hut has log cabin-style bunk beds, kitchenettes, a firepit in the yard and heated showers… a short walk away. There’s no bathroom in the cabin, but every dog owner knows, relief walks are all part of fun Fido travelling. Sadly, it’s not to be.
“We’re working on it,” park staff have told me several times. “We’ve had a lot of request for dog-friendly accommodations and we’re working on a way to make that viable for all.”
In the meantime, two pet-friendly motels (with bathrooms) are located just outside the park boundaries – the economical Arrowhead Inn with some kitchenette rooms and The Tulip Inn with private trails. Of course, 7km away is the pets-stay-free Motel 6 in Huntsville (affiliate link) that’s a great deal for access to an indoor pool.
Also, relatively new at Arrowhead is a designated winter skijoring trail.
What is dog skijoring?
Dog skijoring is a mash-up between horse skijoring (a horse pulls a skier) and dog sledding. So, visualize a person on cross-country skis (usually skater but classic will do) propelling themselves forward with polls along the winter trail with a harnessed dog or two attached to a rope around his/her waist.
That’s right, the dog adds additional momentum by pulling – there’s no control reins so the dogs must want to run and, hopefully, respond to a few basic sledding commands. (Yes, there’s a quick release on the rope).
Can you do skijor with your own dog?
Yes. But there’s some conditions: your dog needs to be fully grown, at least 30 pounds and obviously in good shape. Any breed can try it, but no surprise Husky types are usually best at it. Also, you need to sign up for a training session led by local sports clinicians Lowell Greib and Katherine Ahokas of Huntsville’s The SportLab. They will loan (or sell) you a dog harness … and even supply a dog if pre-requested.
Arrowhead Dog Skijoring Sessions are 45-minutes long on the following dates:
- January 20,
- February 3
- and March 3, 2019, 1 to 4 pm.
Purchase a park pass, rent skis if necessary, and meet at the Arrowhead Provincial Park Birches Parking lot under The Sportslab banner.
And don’t worry. Pet dogs aren’t trained ‘mushers’ and don’t tend to run at high speeds through the trails (if at all). But if you do have a crazy pup who leash pulls (like mine did when he was younger), skijoring might be his jam. If not, you can always say you did.
Even better, dog skijoring is included in the price of a park and ski pass.
[…] want to visit the parks in winter, you’ll have to stay nearby – as my dog Victor and I did at Arrowhead Provincial Park (see here) to check out the […]
[…] Why are we tent camping? Because at Ontario Provincial Parks, dogs can’t stay in roofed accommodations like cottages and yurts (check out our adventures at Arrowhead Provincial Park). […]
[…] He isn’t here for a lesson, but others are. From 1 to 4 pm on select winter Sundays, The Sports Lab led by Dr. Lowell Greib sets up a dog skijoring workshop at Arrowhead Provincial Park in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada. Nine dog-and-people teams signed up today. (Check out our previous Arrowhead Park adventure here). […]
Oh boy would I love to do this with my Husky, Icy! If I lived closer I’d go tomorrow! Great post, thanks.
Love & biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
Huskies apparently do the best … no surprise
Great post, Sherri! Huskies love skijoring! Quite a popular activity! While this human does not ski, I know of many who have Huskies and love the sport! Pinning this to share!
How fun is this! I would love to try this with our little Navy … but I am afraid she is too .. little! Haha! Sounds like you all had a blast though 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
-Alex, Zach, and Navy
Reese would not have been a fan. Henry and Jack would LOVE this adventure. Heck, I would even join my boys and participate. We’re not too far from there so could do a day trip!
I’d consider it … and bring your skates too. I’m going back and will review the dog-friendly motels nearby soon.
Ahh, how fun! I have wanted to skijor with my hound for years. She loves bikejoring and I know she would love this too. We even stayed in a place that lets you do it one winter but there was no snow 🙁 It’s on my bucket list. I know it would be on Boomer’s too if she had one.
I hadn’t heard of bike skijoring. We’ve had more snow here than we want …
I am glad I eventually was told what skijoring is.
I love the fact that dogs are welcome in the parks. It is so easy to say ‘No this’ or ‘No that’ because it’s cheaper and easier BUT taking the family dog with you is often the highlight of any trip.
I almost always prefer to take my dog. My cats, however, hate the car.
Oh my gosh,we’ve been here! Plus we ski with our pups out at our cabin. What an incredibly delightful post!
Good to hear it. I’m checking it out again soon.
HA HA, that would work wonderfully until Cookie got a whiff of a scent.
Yes, my dog likes to run and stop and run and stop. I would be interesting.
Hmm I’ve never heard of dog skijoring before. The closest thing I’ve seen to this is dog sledding. However, it was on one of those Alaskan TV shows. Thanks for sharing!
Apparently dog breeds that make good sled dogs do the best with this.
Hmm I’ve never heard of dog skijoring before! This is new to me. I think the closest thing I’ve seen is dog sledding on TV on one of those Alaskan shows. This looks like it’s fun for both parties involved. Thanks for sharing!
I have never heard of Skijoring before, looks so much fun. Now if only mine would be so athletic and participate in one too:-) Honestly, traveling with your pups is the best thing to do and I am so glad that you had a fun time.
One man told me he tried it – but his dog is much more attached to his wife than him. So he attached the dog to him and she skied ahead. The dog did it because he wanted to catch up to her.
This place sounds like magic and I had never heard about it being for dogs although Layla is too small to be able to. I would love to go to a getaway like this and just chill, relax and enjoy the natural beauty
During the week it’s likely more relaxing. Weekends at provincial parks are busy. I hope to check out other people trying skijoring next month.
What adorable cabins! Too bad they aren’t pet friendly – glad you can tack a Yet on the end of that. I like it when people listen to their customers don’t you? The park is lovely. The whole idea of skiing attached to any animal is quite terrifying to me but skiing itself is scary (I’ve done it twice and that was plenty.) still I know a few dogs that would probably just love it.
I’ve tried cross country skiing and was terrible at it. My dog was running beside me (not attached) but kept running back to find out why I was lying on the ground.
I have an Alaskan Klee Kai that I think would love something like this, but he’s just so small. I guess it works out because, to be honest, I’ve never gone skiing and don’t think I’d trust myself to do a good job at actually staying on the skis haha. I guess we’ll have to settle for just playing/running in the snow together. It looks beautiful there though! I love camping and spending time outdoors in the cold weather.
I think skiing skills would be necessary. I couldn’t keep myself up and I wasn’t even attached to my dog.
I never heard of dog skijoring before. What a fun activity for dogs that like to run and don’t mind the cold. It looks like a lovely place to visit and hopefully they will make it so you can stay with your dogs overnight soon.
I plan to go back soon and stay just outside the park.
Never heard of dog skijoring but sounds like a lot of fun. The place looks amazing I really want to visit one day. The cabins sound like a great idea for a cozy accommodation.
I hadn’t heard of it for dogs before either but I had heard of it with horses. Dogs might be safer…
Seems like such a beautiful place. I’ve been in that area but it’s been more years than I care to remember. Sounds like a fun activity, not one I’ve ever heard of but it’s a shame there is no pet friendly accommodation in the park itself, but at least you can stay in the area. It seems too beautiful to only spend the day.
I think you can stay in tents with dogs – it’s the cabins that still aren’t. But apparently they are working on it because they get a lot of requests.