10 Ways to Enjoy Nature This Winter
By: Heidi Harding
Welcome to a winter wonderland! New Brunswick offers so many opportunities for enjoying nature in every season, but winter offers something special for everyone. Try one of these ten winter activities over the holidays or check them all off your list throughout the winter season.
1. Learn to identify animal tracks
Winter means snow, and snow is perfect for spotting and identifying animal tracks. The morning after a snowfall is the perfect time for a walk along the edge of a forest, across a field, or even through your own backyard, keeping an eye out for the trails of animals who’ve been traveling through the evening or early morning. There are many resources for identifying individual tracks, or to learn more about identifying animal trails.
2.Make your own tracks
Snowy trails are perfect for cross country skiing and snow-shoeing. Try the cross-country ski trails at Sugarloaf Provincial Park, Mactaquac Provincial Park, or Mount Carleton, or try Sugarloaf’s dedicated snow shoeing trails. No equipment of your own? You don’t need to miss out! Snowshoes and cross-country skis are available to borrow or rent in many places across New Brunswick. Check out the New Brunswick Tourism Rental Roundup for a full listing!
3. Hike to the top of a hill, then sled down
Did you know that Mactaquac Provincial Park has two groomed sledding hills that have been ranked among the top ten in Canada? Sledding is fun for all ages, and a favourite of children everywhere (plus, climbing up hills is great exercise). Mactaquac’s sledding hills are even lighted, so you can enjoy a family sledding excursion at night! Check out CBC’s Slide Guide for the top 6 sledding destinations in New Brunswick!
4. Enjoy a winter night
Winter nights are deeply dark and lingering. The sun sets early, and on a cold, clear night the skies light up. Winter stargazing can be breathtaking, though you will want to dress warmly! Winter nights are also a good time to take up night photography. Check out the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – New Brunswick for weekly astronomical highlights.
5. Get adventurous with winter camping
Want to enjoy those winter nights right through until dawn? Try winter camping! Gathering around a cozy campfire is even better when it’s truly cold out. Fundy National Park offers a variety of winter camping options, while backcountry winter camping is available at Kouchibouguac National Park. Before you go, make sure you’re prepared for winter conditions, and bring an experienced winter camper.
6. Try your hand at ice fishing
Big Nictau Lake, in Mount Carleton Provincial Park, is a popular ice-fishing destination for perch, trout, and salmon. The park re-opens for winter use during daylight hours beginning on December 27th, and ice fishing season starts on January 1st. Bring your angling license and equipment!
7. Enjoy a skate on the natural ice of a pond or lake
There are few things more Canadian than the image of children skating or playing hockey on a frozen pond or lake. Prefer to go for an evening skate? Enjoy the lighted skating pond at Mactaquac Provincial Park!
8. Go for a walk in the snow
A walk through a snowy forest has a certain magic to it. Snow seems to make things quieter than usual. The bare trees make it easy to spot the movements of birds and squirrels. The wind blows through the trees, snow might fall, sunlight may glitter across the snow, or stormy dark clouds might lurk behind the snowy forest. Whether in the heart of a provincial park, on a city trail, or in your own backyard, stopping to appreciate the magic of a winter day is always worthwhile.
9. Capture the wonder of winter with photography
Winter landscapes can be stark or magical. Close-up shots of snowflakes, ice crystals, or frost-covered plants can be mesmerizingly beautiful. Capturing these on camera can be rewarding and can result in stunning works of art. Whether you prefer to get out there and start snapping or to prepare with some helpful tips, be sure to give winter photography a try!
10. Come to a Tuesday Talk!
Come out to a Tuesday Talk with CPAWS NB at the Abbey Café & Gallery in Fredericton. Learn more about research and conservation issues affecting the natural areas and wildlife of New Brunswick while staying warm inside. The next Tuesday Talk is scheduled for January 22. Join us for a discussion of protected areas for the North Atlantic right whale in the Bay of Fundy.
CPAWS-NB hopes you’ll take advantage of the provincial parks and New Brunswick’s outdoors to get closer with nature with each visit. Remember that the parks are meant for all New Brunswickers and visitors to enjoy, and that we are responsible for taking care of our environment. When you visit, be sure to take all garbage and refuse with you when you leave, keep dogs on a leash and clean up after them, and respect nature by leaving it in the park.
Visit here for more information on New Brunswick Provincial Parks.
Header photo by Peter Reimer