Health & Wellness
7 PEI Trails to Hike This Winter
We all know a great big dose of fresh air can do wonders for the soul, and spending some time outdoors during the winter is prime time to find your centre among the snowy trees. One of the best ways to get outside is exploring the many trails found across the Island, each one offering a unique hiking experience and different sceneries, from snowy woodland trails to routes that lead you right to the ocean.
Now, we know staying nice and toasty, all bundled up in blankets, is one of life’s greatest pleasures but hear us out. Picture the glittering snow as the sunlight dances through the trees. The sound of snow crunching beneath your feet. No mosquitos. Wrapping your cold hands around a mug of your favourite hot beverage, warming up from the inside with every sip. The fresh, crisp winter air and the feeling of it on your skin. The endorphins from simply going on a good walk. Did we mention no mosquitos?
Luckily, there’s still lots of cold weather to enjoy, so here’s a list of some of PEI’s most beautiful trails to hike in the winter.
Victoria Park, Charlottetown
Distance: 1.4 km boardwalk
Level of difficulty: Easy
Victoria Park is a 40-acre expanse conveniently located right in Downtown Charlottetown. Here, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Charlottetown Harbour on a stroll along the beloved boardwalk. With Beaconsfield Historic House as your starting point, and with your timing just right, you can often be rewarded with a dazzling sunset waiting for you at the other end. You can also spend some time exploring the peaceful, woodland trails for a little escape right in the heart of the city.
Winter River, Suffolk
Distance: 6 km
Level of difficulty: Easy – Moderate
The Winter River Trail is an easy to moderate hike located only 5km away from Charlottetown, and on a perfect winter’s day it feels like a storybook setting. Meander through beautiful thickets of white spruce and gentle rolling terrain, and across wooden boardwalks and over little bridges. Keep a look out for signs of wildlife and take in the sights as you stroll right along the Winter River. Keep a lookout for a tiny log cabin nestled along the riverbank.
Bonshaw Hills and Strathgartney Provincial Park
Distance: 18km total
Level of difficulty: Moderate – Difficult
The Bonshaw Hills and Strathgartney Provincial Parks are accessible off the Trans-Canada Highway and are especially stunning after a fresh snowfall. Hike your way through Bonshaw’s trail system which follows the winding West River, branching out into smaller loops of varying lengths and intensity from more level paths to steeper climbs. The Ji’ka’we’katik Trail also connects to Strathgartney’s main trail, across the highway towards the East. The viewpoint by the parking lot offers up a breathtaking scenic vista of the valley and river below.
Mooney’s Pond (Peggy’s Trail), Peakes
Distance: 1.9km loop
Level of difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Over the years, Mooney’s Pond has gained popularity with locals and visitors alike and it’s easy to see why. Along with picture perfect views all year round, Mooney’s Pond is lovingly maintained by dedicated staff of the Morell River Management Cooperation and has a trail that’s family friendly and partially wheelchair accessible. Take your photo on the floating dock before crossing over a babbling brook into captivating woodland. The trees clear as you reach the halfway point — a bridge that connects to the other side of the pond. Along the trail you’ll find many viewpoints, perfect for catching a breath, taking photographs, and even birdwatching.
Dunelands Trail, Cavendish
Level of difficulty: Easy
The Cavendish side of PEI National Park boasts an extensive trail system, taking you through sprawling farmlands, enchanting groves, and right along the rugged coast. The Dunelands Trail is located at Cavendish Beach, which starts off with a floating boardwalk right along Cavendish’s majestic dunes towards the East extending towards the Gulfshore Parkway Trail. Partway through the trail, you’ll come across a walkway leading down to the ocean, for some of the most breathtaking not-to-be-missed views of Cavendish Beach.
Mill River Resort Loop, O’Leary
Putting the WIN in winter, Mill River Resort has this season down pat. Along with amenities and activities, such as a tubing hill and outdoor skating rink, the resort also boasts almost 5km of groomed winter trails perfect for exploring by ski, snowshoe, and on some days, even horse drawn sleigh!
Dromore Woodland Trails, Dromore
Distance: 15km total
Level of difficulty: Moderate
The Dromore Woodland Trails is located near Mount Stewart and partly follows the large bend of the Pisquid River. Part of the International Appalachian Trail, this woody expanse includes almost 15km of walking-only trails, with multiple loops and routes that vary in length and difficulty. As you make your way through Dromore’s woodland trail system, you’ll cross narrow bridges over babbling streams, tread atop winding boardwalks through dense thickets, and occasionally amble up steeper slopes. It’s an adventure that comes with a little more challenge but the scenery that will surround you makes it all the more worth it.
Itching to head out right about now? Remember to check trail maps and conditions beforehand so you know what you’re walking into, and practice safe hiking. Now bundle and get those snow boots on! Your next winter adventure awaits. For more info on PEI trails, visit IslandTrails.ca