Dog Sledding in Haliburton, Ontario

Like I mentioned before the Easter holidays, I went dog sledding in Haliburton, Ontario (about a 2 1/2 – 3 hour drive from Toronto) over the weekend. Man, was it ever fun! I’m so glad my friend, Colleen convinced me to go, because it was such a great experience.

So we left Friday afternoon and headed up to the Delta Pinestone Resort, so it would be less off a rush to head to the trails in the morning. The resort was really nice. I wish I had remembered to bring my swim suit because they had a nice pool and hot tub there that we could’ve had all to ourselves since the resort wasn’t busy. The room was a tad cold when we walked in, but when we finally found the heater it was nice and toasty for the rest of the stay.

Dinner at Haliburton Family RestaurantFor dinner on Friday night we went to this small, local diner called Haliburton Family Restaurant. We were all starving from the long drive up, so Colleen and I ordered about 4 plates of appetizers to split–I now know why they always say never shop when you’re hungry. We tried to forced ourselves to finish all the Buffalo chicken wings, poutine, chicken fingers and nachos. It’s a good think Colleen’s dad and friend were there to help us out with that. :D The food was alright… not as “home made” as I thought it would be, but nonetheless still sufficient. Our waitress was really friendly. A nice ‘country’ atmosphere. Even the walls were lined in dog wallpaper which we found a bit coincidental taking into consideration our dog sledding journey. Back at the hotel we did some channel surfing, falling asleep to the hysterics of Spike’s MXC (Most Extreme Elimination). I think we were really anxious about dog sledding because every time we looked at the clock it seemed really early and time was going by slowly.

Our dog sled teamWe woke up at about 7am. Went down to Heatherwood, the resorts’ restaurant, for a yummy breakfast. I ordered the eggs Benedict, so did Colleen, her dad got oatmeal and his friend got the ‘Canadian Breakfast’. Breakfast was very tasty and filling. We scooted back to our rooms to pack and head out for the 30 minute drive to Winterdance Dog Sledding Tours. We were running a bit late, and to top it off 15 minutes after taking a wrong turn, we realized we were going the wrong way (when the numbers started getting smaller), so we had to turn around and double back. Just to let you know these country roads are very bumpy, and we were driving fairly fast in order to make it to the site on time… Colleen and I should’ve ordered the oatmeal.

We were supposed to get to the tour site by 9am–we got there at 9:37. The people at Winterdance were really cool about it though and said we could still join the training session since it was just getting underway, but we decided to wait another 30 minutes for the 10am run. This worked to our advantage because we got the coolest instructor, Fraser–very knowledgeable and funny–and had him all to ourselves for our small group of four.

Fraser went through quick lesson with the entire group (there were about 12 all together) of us on what to expect from the dogs, the different parts of the sled, the harness, the brakes and most importantly the correct calls: “Hike” is to go, not “mush” as some of you might think, “woah” means to stop or slow downFraser making lunch and we had to call “on by” if the dog was distracted by the side of the trail (e.g. by a squirrel or something) while it was running. The brake took a bit of getting used to… it was a parallel bar with spikes on either end that dug into the snow to slow down the sled, between the thin ski bars that the driver had to balance on with his or her feet.

The dogs were very eager to get running. You should’ve heard the noises and excitement that was in the air when they were getting harnessed in. There were 6 dogs to each sled, one driver and one rider sitting in the sled. I didn’t want to take the chance and drive for the first time, so I let Colleen have the honours. We switched about 1 hour in (after getting some yummy hot chocolate), then other three times to give each of us a break. The feeling of the wind hitting your face as you have these wonderful creatures race down the snowy trials and frozen lakes was incredible. The dogs were so cute, even though it was a tad shocking to see them do #1 and #2 mid-stride (Fraser had nicknamed part of the trail Poo Valley because of incidents like that… lol). Me driving the sled over the lakeOur team consisted of twins Candy and Pumpkin, Ebony (who we had to switch for Badit 1 hour in since he was having a dispute with one of the dogs on Colleen’s dad’s sled) and Red, and Belle and Joker.

After a couple hours we settled down in a section of the woods for some lunch. Fraser started a campfire and boiled some garden vegetable soup and BBQed some hamburgers (always tastes better over an open fire)! He also gave our teams some much deserved and highly anticipated treats (I never seen a dog jump so high or bark so loudly in anticipation. Our bellies full, we settled in for the afternoon portion of our run. Our team was so eager to go… I had a hard time trying to get Candy and Pumpkin (the lead dogs on our team) to slow down to allow enough gap between our sled and Fraser’s sled!

Belle’s cool eyesRacing over the frozen lake was probably the most beautiful part of the trip. The air is so still and quiet. It was such a beautiful day and the trees and cliff sides were amazing to see. We got back to the starting point around 5pm, got off our sleds and gave our team some much needed water and more treats, helped pack up and thanked all the instructors for a wonderful day.

This was such a great experience. Whether you’re a dog person, love the outdoors, or just want to try something new, dog sledding is a great adventure to try!

2 Responses to “Dog Sledding in Haliburton, Ontario”

  1. Lyndsey says:

    Hey sounds like you had a great time. My friend’s boyfriend actually proposed to her last winter while dog sledding. And even funnier, another friend of mine ended up being their tour guide that day, you didn’t meet a guide named Paul did you? Looks like fun, I will have to try it next year!

  2. sandeep says:

    You should have brought back a dog!! omggg they’re so cute!

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