When you think of spending time in nature, do you think of activities like spring cycling, summer beach days and fall hiking? We don’t blame you. Those are all great seasonal activities. But in our humble opinion, when it comes to connecting with nature, winter is where it’s at. This crisp, cold season may be prime hibernation time for our furry friends, but here in York Durham Headwaters, winter is for bundling up and getting outside to explore the great outdoors.
Why connect with nature in winter?
It’s not called “the winter blues” for nothing. With its short days and long dark nights, winter is admittedly the time where seasonal affective disorder is most prevalent in our northern geography. For many people, this slump can be characterized by a range of symptoms, from a subtle feeling of listlessness to an all-out desire to stay in bed buried under a pile of blankets. Happily, getting out into the daylight, taking in some fresh air and getting some light exercise is one widely recommended—and inexpensive—remedy for this affliction.
But even if you aren’t one of the many people influenced by seasonal affective disorder, connecting with nature in winter is still good for mind, body and soul. Mother Nature doesn’t sleep the cold away like the bears and the squirrels. There is plenty of life happening amongst our snowy natural spaces. The natural world has always been recognized as essential for our spiritual well-being, after all. Just ask great minds like Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, or anyone from the Group of Seven.
Getting outdoors in the winter is an invigorating practice, and helps to chase away low moods and sluggishness. At the time of year when our inclination is to stay indoors, breathing circulated air from our furnaces, taking in a dose of fresh, cold air can help to boost your energy and lift your spirits. Especially if you are engaging in an activity that gets your heart going and increases blood flow.
Enjoy the outdoors responsibly
Of course, we would be remiss if we did not mention the need to be good stewards of our natural spaces. Hiking a winter trail is a wonderful pursuit, but pulling branches from trees as you go, for example, is not a sustainable way to enjoy this activity. Making sure you stay on the marked paths and reducing the impact you have on your natural surroundings is a much more responsible pursuit.
If you are bringing snacks with you, bring reusable containers, and take your empty wrappers home. If you are enjoying structured activities like ice fishing, skiing or snowshoeing, respect the rules that have been established. And lastly, be aware of your surroundings. Snow-covered streams can be treacherous, and small animal dens are easy to disturb if you’re not paying attention.
Where to connect with nature
If we’ve piqued your interest, then here are some ideas for how you can connect with nature in York Durham Headwaters.
Book a nature stay-and-play
The Hive Centre and Stay – When it comes to connecting with nature, you can’t get more authentic than The Hive in Orono. This unique location’s number one focus is nature, and it is is literally inspired by the beauty of the honeybee hive (there is a great story about this, so be sure to ask when you go). Surrounded by the Wilmot Creek Commemorative Forest, The Hive offers a number of nature-centric retreats, experiences and workshop that bring the natural world into the core of your heart and soul. Extend your visit with an overnight stay in their boutique accommodations, or enjoy a full-house booking in their retro executive farmhouse. There is even a heritage church in use on the property.
3392 Concession Rd. 8, Orono
Visit a conservation area
York Durham Headwaters is chock-full of amazing conservation areas. In fact, we could write a whole separate blog post on what to do and where to go (and have!). But let it suffice to say that our conservation areas are your one-stop shop for winter activities. And most, if not all, are engaged in sustainability activities and education as well. From wetland preservation, to climate change, to wildlife monitoring and environmental inventory, our conservation areas are watching and studying the natural world to ensure it is here for future generations to enjoy.
Let us get you started with just two of our conservation areas that offer wonderful winter fun to help you connect with nature:
Cold Creek Conservation Area – With great outdoor activities, as well as programs and camps, Cold Creek inspires people to engage in physical activity, culture, recreation and the natural environment. Winter activities include:
- Cross country skiing and snowshoe rentals
- Outdoor Skating
14125 11th Concession, Nobleton
Island Lake Conservation Area – Experience nature at its finest. Located at Orangeville’s northeast corner, you’ll discover an outdoor oasis with over 300 hectares of lake, wetland and forest, offering four seasons of recreation. Island Lake has gorgeous multi-use trails that are fabulous in the winter. Choose the trail that works best for your activity and fitness level. Winter activities include:
- Hiking and fat biking
- Ice fishing rental huts
- Outdoor skating and cross-country skiing
- Snowshoeing rentals
673067 Hurontario St., Orangeville
Story by Katherine Ryalen