The epic badlands of Collingwood

Ah the outdoor life! The suspension bridge at Scenic Caves outside of  Collingwood offers stunning vistas of Georgian Bay. (photo by Stephen Smith)

Ah, a fresh, bracing blast of wintry mountain air! That’s what writer Ilona Kauremszky is feeling as she walks across the suspension bridge at Scenic Caves that overlooks Georgian Bay. (Stephen Smith photo)

Story by Ilona Kauremszky Senior Writer

Enjoying the beautiful outdoor winter light while cross country skiing in Collingwood. (Photo by Stephen Smith)

Cross-country skiers hit the trails near Blue Mountain. (Stephen Smith photo)

COLLINGWOOD, ONTARIO — Ninety minutes north from Toronto, the white powder clinging off Georgian Bay makes for some pretty sweet snowboarding — not to mention wonderful conditions for snowshoe and cross-country skiers.

Here’s the low-down on where to play and crash as you blast through the epic badlands in southern Ontario:

Badlands Terrain Park

Dare to freestyle. Former pro snowboarder and Olympic coach Jesse Fulton hits these mind-bending courses, teaching Winter Games hopefuls the tricks of the trade. Insiders swear Slopestyle Line is one of the best jump lines in Ontario. Rail Line is really creative and the Superpipe, which is really the half-pipe, is rated among the best. Snow cannons, night riding and earth works make Blue Mountain’s largest park fun and exciting.

Badlands Terrain Park frequently hosts serious competitions like the Canadian Shield Finale, Volcom Stone Peanut Butter Rail Jam and the Final Four Showdown. Advanced boarders dig the jump lines and the 22-foot superpipe walls. Depending on the snow conditions there are better shapes more akin to Olympic standards. Newbies like little kids get a kick out of the Greatest Hits area. That’s where lessons are scheduled.

Telephone: 877-445-0231
Park pass: $10.

Scenic Caves Nature Adventures

To mellow things from the Badlands Terrain Park, snowshoe and cross-country skiers hit the marked wilderness trails next door at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. Imagine 22 kilometres (13.6 miles) of groomed trails that wind through old-growth forests. Snowshoers meanwhile head to the longest suspension bridge in the province for a spectacular adrenaline rush crossing the sturdy wire fence lining the 25-metre (72-foot) bridge looming 300 metres (984 feet) above Georgian Bay.

In between the action, spot critters like white-tailed deer and winter owls. Afterward, unwind with a bowl of chili inside a warm rustic cabin.

Telephone: 705-446-0256

Beild House Country Inn and Spa

Two blocks from the frosty Georgian Bay shoreline, the home fire is burning at the historic Beild House Country Inn and Spa. Steeped in early Canadiana, innkeepers William and Stephanie Barclay make guests feel at home in this cozy setting that offers tea in the afternoon.

We can’t get over the breakfast selection of six different egg dishes, including the meanest Eggs Benedict this side of the bay. Chef Eric Madden, who once dished out haute cuisine at Toronto’s Scaramouche, is cooking with locally sourced produce for the 22-person dining room. BYOB and no corkage fee make this dining spot a favourite among repeat guests.

Furnished with the TLC you’d come to expect from an ancestor of the Christie cookie empire, the property has a fabulous portrait of great-great-granddad Mr. Christie that hangs handsomely in the home. An on-site spa plus piles of books, movies, and board games are just some of the sweet diversions after a hard day of snowboarding and skiing.

Telephone:  888-322-3453
Room rates: Prices start at $139.95 for two; a five-course fixed menu is $50.

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Ilona Kauremszky has worked with numerous tourism offices around the world. An award-winning journalist, she is a travel columnist and has penned pieces for inflight magazines and major tour operators. She also makes appearances on TV and radio. Co-producer of Ilona is forever finding great stories in the strangest places. Follow her travel pursuits on Twitter and YouTube @mycompasstv

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