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Dog Sledding in Ontario: 10 Awesome Places to Experience the Winter Magic

Dog sledding in Ontario is a winter sport that is gathering momentum. Discover the best spots to experience Ontario dog sledding for yourself.

Dog sledding in Ontario
Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Dog sledding is as timeless a sport as anything in Ontario. And as the snow begins to fall, more and more Ontarians are heading to the outdoors to celebrate winter. Dog sledding in Ontario is one of the best ways to try something new, and maybe get hooked on a new sport. In fact, dog-sledding is becoming one of the hottest winter activities in Ontario.

Prior to the invention of the snowmobile by Quebec industrialist Joseph-Armand Bombardier, dog-sledding was one of the most dependable ways to traverse the Canadian landscapes during the snowy months. Mushers would lead teams of intelligent and hardy canines who had been bred through centuries by Inuit and other Indigenous Peoples in Northern Canada. In fact, the oldest archaeological evidence of dog sleds dates back over 1,000-years.

Back then, the typical dog sled would have been a single dog pulling a small utility sled. However, modern dog sleds involve teams of well-trained dogs that can tear at a breakneck speed seemingly effortlessly.

Interest in Ontario dog-sledding as an outdoor sport exploded in 2020. Along with the Ontario downhill ski resorts, snowshoeing, and staycations, dog-sledding had a heyday in terms of popularity. Popular dog sledding races such as the Iditarod trail have pushed the sport into the spotlight.

Nowadays there are dog sledding kennels throughout Ontario. From local attractions to full and multi-day outings, this sport is becoming more mainstream. Even urban dwellers are making their way out for Ontario dog-sledding adventures.

If you’ve ever been interested in trying out dog-sledding in Ontario for yourself, these outfitters can help you get your mush-on and add a new outdoor adventure to your Ontario winters.

10 Amazing Places For Ontario Dog Sledding

Family mushing dog sleds in Ontario
Kevin Wagar dog-sledding in Northern Ontario – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

These exciting places to experience dog sledding in Ontario combine everything you need for this epic outdoor adventure.

While many people are under the impression that they need to travel to places such as Yellowknife, NWT, or Quebec for a dog-sledding adventure, there are many incredible dog-sled experiences in Ontario.

Call of the Wild – Algonquin Provincial Park

Call of the Wild is one of Ontario’s most established outfitters servicing Algonquin Park. Not only do they offer epic multi-day canoe adventures through Ontario’s most famous wilderness, but they also offer Ontario dog-sledding adventures during the winter months.

In 2001, Call of the Wild purchased the Algonquin Wilderness Nordic Lodge and transformed it into the Algonquin Eco-Lodge, one of the coolest and most unique glamping experiences in Ontario. The lodge runs year-round and during the winter months offers half-day and full-day dog sledding outings through some of Ontario’s most scenic natural wonders.

Adventures start at the kennel and the teams consist of four huskie dogs. Guests can learn to hitch up the harnesses and get the chance to mush their own team. Their location just north of Maynooth is about an hour-and-a-half north of Peterborough and an hour-an-45 minutes east of Huntsville. You can connect with them here.

North Ridge Ranch – Huntsville

Located near Arrowhead Provincial Park on the edge of Huntsville, North Ridge Ranch has been running Alaskan Huskies that have been specially trained as sled dogs. This family-run operation includes dad, Brad, mom, Leah, and their daughter Brea who combine more than 45-years of dog sledding experience in Ontario.

All of their tours are run on private trails that snake across 500 acres of property. They zip through beautiful forests, along riverbeds, and through scenic winter wonderlands. The small, guided tours feature 4-5 guests per sled tour so that each adventurer has the opportunity to take the reins.

Most tours average two and a half to three hours in length and cover about 20 km of the Muskoka wilderness. And of course, there’s a fun stop involving to cocoa and snacks. For those who would prefer a shorter adventure, there are also one-hour tours focused on families visiting with young children.

You can connect with North Ridge Ranch here.

Dog sledding tours near Toronto
Dog sled tour in Haliburton – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Ravens Adventures – Cochrane

Located far north off HWY 11 in the town of Cochrane, Ravens Adventures invites visitors to experience their mix of Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Huskies, and Border Collies that pull their recreational and competitive sled teams. Hosts Brent and Gail have years of sled-dog experience behind them and offer rides for groups and special events including winter carnivals and weddings.

Enjoy a ride through the trails in some of Ontario’s untouched Boreal forests while being pulled by a team of frisky pups. You’ll have the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the ride or try your hand at mushing your own team. The experience includes a meet-and-greet with the dogs and lessons on harnessing and handling the sled and dogs.

Ravens Adventures offers a variety of Ontario dog sled tours from one hour to overnight expeditions. Opt for the overnight and you may even get a chance to see the Ontario northern lights. You can connect with them here.

Snow Forest Adventures – Algonquin Provincial Park and Temagami

One of Ontario’s most epic dog-sledding outfitters is Snow Forest Adventures. This outfitter runs multi-day trips in Algonquin Provincial Park, Temagami that range from to-day/one-night outings to seven-day/six-night expeditions. For those seeking the truly off-the-beaten-path adventure, there is even a nine-day/eight-night expedition along the Yukon-Tombstone Range in the Yukon territories.

You’ll be well-taken care of during these outings. The range of gear provided includes meals, snacks, and beverages, and park access. Some of the longer excursions also include snow boots and parkas.

Your days will be spent tearing through the wilderness with your team of dogs, all supported by expert guides. Your nights will be spent relaxing in heated prospector tents and enjoying home-cooked meals by the fireside.

You can connect with Snow Forest Adventures here.

Borealis Sled Dog Adventures – Vermilion Bay

Borealis Sled Dog Adventures has been guiding adventure-lovers since 1989 through some of the most beautiful wilderness in Ontario. Their Ontario dog-sledding adventures include both day trips and multi-day adventures that range from two-day outings to in-depth 10-day trail runs through the province’s northern forests.

For day trips, lunch is provided. For multi-day adventures, nights are spent at a log outpost and in heated prospector tents. Your evenings will be spent dining on local game including moose, grouse, and fish. Guide Burton Penner has more than 35-years of mushing experience under his belt and his family cares for their dogs like family.

You’ll explore along ancient trap lines while learning about and experience the rustic wilds, all while harnessing the energy of more than 40 Husky dogs who love nothing more than hitting the trails. You can connect with them here.

Woman in a red parka mushing Ontario dog sleds
Dog sledding near Algonquin Park, Ontario – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Sugar Dogs Adventure Co. – Sundridge

Located near the northwest corner of Algonquin Provincial Park in the town of Sundridge, Ed and his dogs have been running incredible Ontario winter adventures since 2005. Try your hand at mushing on their half-day, full-day, or customized multi-day dog sledding experiences. Or, see if skijoring (being pulled on skis behind dogs), and see if you can handle the thrill!

Sugar Dogs max out their tours to just 24 guests per day, so you’ll be sure to have plenty of time trying your hand at mushing the dog. All while learning about one of the most beautiful outdoor regions in Ontario. You can connect with Sugar Dogs Adventure Co right here.

Haliburton Forest Dog Sledding – Haliburton Highlands

Experienced guides and a team of more than one hundred Siberian Huskies that have access to 300 kilometres of trails snaking through 100,000 acres of central Ontario forest. Could you ask for a more amazing experience?

Haliburton Forest Dog Sledding is a popular Ontario sled-dog experience for beginners right through to experts. Each guest takes part in a short, but immersive training session where they learn all about the sleds, the gear, the wilderness, and, of course, the dogs.

From there, tours take off through the pristine Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve on intro, half-day, or full-day tours. For visitors in the warmer season, this extensive park offers some of the best hiking in Ontario as well as treetop walking adventures and much more.

The tours all end with a tour of the sled-dog kennels where guests will have a chance to spend some time with the friendly dogs off-the-trail. You can connect with Haliburton Forest Dog Sledding here.

Winterdance Dogsled Tours – Haliburton

Operating as one of the coveted “Canadian Signature Experiences”, Winterdance Dog Sled Tours in Haliburton Highlands is one of the top winter experiences in Ontario. This family-run company takes visitors on 2-hour, half-day, full-day, and moonlight runs through the area bordering Algonquin Park just north of the town of Bancroft.

A maximum of five teams are run at a time, so guests will have ample chance to mush their own team after receiving a comprehensive lesson from the experienced guides. There are also options for multi-day dog sledding adventures that combine overnight accommodations at Sir Sam’s Inn and Spa at one of Ontario’s top downhill ski resorts.

You can connect with Winterdance Dogsled Tours right here.

Tips For Your First Ontario Dogsledding Experience

Ontario dog sledding on a frozen lake
Ontario dog sledding on a frozen lake – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

There are few winter activities that are as thrilling and memorable as dogsledding in Ontario. The cold wind on your face, the breath of the dogs misting in the air and the thrill of leaning into your turns as you whip through the forest are immeasurable.

I’ve had the privilege of mushing dog teams in Alberta, Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Finland, and each time I’m out on the trail, it’s pure bliss.

But like any winter adventure, it’s good to know what you’re getting into so that you can enjoy it to the maximum potential. So here are a few dog-sledding tips from someone who’s been there.

  • The dogs have personality. While the typical image most people have of sled dogs is of a purebred Siberian Husky, in fact, most sled dogs are a mix of Husky, Alaskan Malamut, Samoyed, Beagle, and sometimes other dogs. These combinations give them an incredible mix of endurance, athleticism, personality, and the ability to stay comfortable in cold weather environments. Each pup has their own unique personality and you’ll quickly learn that no two dogs are the same. Expect some personality conflicts on the trail two, the personality interactions make a big part of the fun of dog sledding in Ontario.
  • Layer up to stay warm. Being out in the cold for a long time isn’t uncomfortable if you’re dressed appropriately. Wear layers so that you can add or remove clothes as you get hot or cold. Make sure to have good mitts for your hands and comfortable wool socks and waterproof boots to keep your hands and toes warm. Your digits don’t see a lot of action when dog-sledding so it’s good to keep them toasty.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most dogsled guides LOVE what they do for a living. They’re as passionate about the dogs and the outdoors as they are about anything. Next to being out on the trail, chatting about mushing is the next best thing. Now is the time to ask those nagging questions that you’ve always had.
  • Choose ethical outfitters. There can be a lot of controversy whenever there is a sport that involves animals. I am a passionate outdoors-person and animal rights are a primary driver among any of the activities and business that I am involved with. Be sure to research your outfitter prior to signing up and be alert for any indications that they may not treat their animals kindly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good outfitter is happy to talk about the care and support that they give. Avoiding questions about these topics is a big indicator that an outfitter may have something to hide.

Now It’s Time For Your to Experience Dog Sledding in Ontario!

If you’ve ever wanted to experience dog sledding in Ontario, these amazing tour operators can help craft a magical and memorable experience for you.

Many of these businesses and restaurants are anxious for visitors after a tough year. So let’s support local and make the most of your Ontario travel experience.

Do you have a favourite attraction or restaurant in Ontario? Head over to the Ultimate Ontario Facebook Community and join the conversation! You’ll find an amazing group of people passionate about Ontario and who love to share their local secrets.

Sarah Smart

Saturday 30th of October 2021

What a perfect winter experience!!