6 Nature Destinations to visit this winter

Bunchberry Meadows, AB (Photo by Brent Calver)

Bunchberry Meadows, AB (Photo by Brent Calver)

January 30, 2019 | by Raechel Wastesicoot

Winter has made its way across Canada. Long gone are the changing leaves and the fall jackets, the latter now stored away as we bring out parkas better suited for the tough Canadian winters.

With landscapes covered in blankets of snow and trees covered in ice, nature is quiet until spring comes. Or is it?

Find out for yourself by beating the winter blues and getting outdoors! There’s nothing like the chirp of a chickadee high up in an oak tree — its visibility heightened by the bareness of the tree — or the surprise of seeing fresh animal tracks in the snow on the ground.

Across Canada, there are five Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) Nature Destinations open year-round that are perfect for your next snowy adventure.

Learn more about them below:

Bunchberry Meadows, AB

Wander this amazing property, located just a 20-minute drive from downtown Edmonton. You'll find yourself surrounded by a unique combination of forest, wetlands and grasslands. As you meander the looped trails and repeatedly marvel, “I can’t believe this is so close to the city,” keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer and moose. NCC encourages people to snowshoe, cross-country ski and participate in winter birdwatching on this conservation site. Bunchberry Meadows provides the perfect quick getaway for your nature fix.

Dutch Creek Hoodoos Conservation Area, BC

Dutch Creek Hoodoos, BC (Photo by NCC)

Dutch Creek Hoodoos, BC (Photo by NCC)

This locally popular conservation area is known for its striking geological formations known as hoodoos — tall spires of gravel, sand and silt that form a towering cliff face — that are visible in any season. Walk or snowshoe on the trail through the Douglas-fir forest to the upper bench above the hoodoos. From the top of the cliffs, take in a gorgeous panoramic view of Columbia Lake.

Agassiz Interpretive Trail, MB

From sedge meadows to wetlands, to tall grass prairie and forest, this property rewards with a new sensory experience at your every step.

Walk among the biodiversity in this globally endangered habitat. In winter, snowshoe or cross-country ski the trail and see if you can recognize the wildlife tracks in the snow. One visit to this property and you can’t help but appreciate why this prairie ecosystem is worth protecting.

Backus Woods, ON

Take your next winter getaway at Backus Woods, where we invite you to discover some of the oldest living trees in Ontario. Backus Woods is a spectacular gem in the heart of the Carolinian life zone, one of Canada’s smallest ecoregions. Comprising less than one per cent of the country's land mass, Carolinian Canada is home to 25 per cent of the country’s population and provides habitat for nearly 25 per cent of our country’s endangered species. Who knows, you may even spot a prothonotary or cerulean warbler while you’re there.

Explore the forest using the interpretive signage as your guide and use your smartphone to link to online content.

Alfred-Kelly Nature Reserve, QC

Ice formation, Alfred-Kelly Nature Reserve, QC (Photo by NCC)

Ice formation, Alfred-Kelly Nature Reserve, QC (Photo by NCC)

Lace up your hiking boots, strap on your snowshoes or step into your cross-country ski bindings, as this nature reserve delivers in every season.

Immerse yourself in a quiet forest. Depending on which trail you choose, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of either the large beaver pond in Piedmont, the small Lac Paradis underneath the escarpment or the surroundings offered by the viewpoint at the top of the cliffs.

Lincoln Wetland Natural Area, NB

Tracks in the forest of NCC's Lincoln Wetland Nature Reserve in New Brunswick (Photo by NCC)

Tracks in the forest of NCC's Lincoln Wetland Nature Reserve in New Brunswick (Photo by NCC)

The Lincoln Wetland Natural Area protects a species at risk along the banks of the majestic St. John River. Just a short drive from Fredericton, the 8.5-hectare property was donated in memory of Gwen Ferris. Open to visitors year-round, this property features a diverse mix of marshes and old field forest, as well as a floodplain forest that contains silver maple, basswood and the endangered butternut tree. In the winter, search for animal tracks and other evidence of wildlife in the snow.

This winter, bundle up and discover all that nature has to offer. You never know what species you might see or hear along the way!

Raechel Bonomo (Photo by Chase Wastesicoot)

About the Author

Raechel Wastesicoot is the manager, internal communications and culture at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Raechel Wastesicoot.

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