TANTRAMAR, N.B. – The winter can be long in New Brunswick. But all this snow and cold weather doesn’t have to get you down. There are plenty of ways to prevent the winter blues from coming on, and getting outdoors to enjoy the fresh air is the first step.
The Sackville Tribune-Post has put together a list of five ways you can get out and enjoy the season this year – and you don’t have to be an outdoor sports enthusiast to do it.
“We have plenty to do outside, either on your own or with friends,” says Matt Pryde, Sackville’s manager of recreation programs and special events.
Pryde says town staff and council all believe in the importance of heading outside during the winter and encourage residents to check out what the community has to offer.
“A breath of fresh air goes a long way towards beating the winter blues and we encourage all residents to bundle up and enjoy the cold,” he says.
Cross-country skiing has become a wildly popular winter activity in the Tantramar region. There are an abundance of trails for all ages and skill levels to enjoy, with incredible views of the local landscape.
“When the first snow arrives in early winter, there are some who have nothing but dread. They see a season of inconvenience, cold and a time of indoors living. But there are those who embrace the time when we finally have a decent accumulation of snow in our nearby woods to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing,” says Peter Manchester, president of the Tantramar Outdoor Club.
“The forest is transformed at this time to become a place of extraordinary beauty, in a pristine way that only winter can provide. Canada is a land of snow, especially the Maritimes, and when one participates in winter outdoor activities it becomes apparent why we choose to live here.”
Beech Hill Park has a number of trails that are well groomed and easily accessible, perfect for beginners, while another area that is drawing more cross-country ski enthusiasts is the network of ski and snowshoe trails at Walker Road, including the infamous Crooked Tree Trail, all maintained by a team of volunteers from the Tantramar Outdoor Club (TOC).
Manchester says the TOC maintains and grooms over 20 kilometres of cross-country ski trails.
“Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing provide the benefits of physical activity and being in a beautiful natural setting,” he says. “It is not unusual to find people of all ages on the trails or at our two warming huts located deep in the woods.”
Snowshoeing is also an activity residents can enjoy in the Tantramar region with ample trails that can provide an enjoyable afternoon or evening in a remarkable setting.
A low-impact, aerobic exercise that can help you stay in shape during the winter months, snowshoeing is a sport that all ages and abilities can take part in together.
“Cross country skiing and snowshoeing have become increasingly popular winter pastimes in Sackville,” says Manchester.
Manchester says the Tantramar Outdoor Club alone has a membership of more than 270 members, and each member likes to get out on the trails and embrace what winter has to offer which, of course, is lots of snow.
Beech Hill Park and the trails at the reservoir gate at Walker Road are popular for snowshoeing, but don’t limit yourself to the Sackville area if you’re heading out. The trails at Cape Jourimain are not maintained during the winter but they are still accessible to hike, ski or snowshoe. And the trails in and around Baie Verte, Port Elgin and Cap-Pele all make great places to explore on snowshoes.
If you do not have snowshoes, the town has sets you can borrow for a day or two at a time. Contact the Tantramar civic centre at 364-4955 to make arrangements.
Winter can be a wonderful time to get out and go for a walk or hike. You can take in the peacefulness and beauty of the forests or simply meander through the provincial trail system or even your own community to get some fresh air.
“A large section of the Waterfowl Park is a great place to get out for a walk,” says Pryde. “During the winter months, the town maintains the railbed and the main trail head from Main Street beside the Drew Nursing Home.”
It’s important to note, however, that when heading out, the key is to be prepared and ensure you have the proper footwear, clothing and gear. Bringing essentials such as extra layers, foil emergency blankets and hand warmers can make a huge difference.
Hiking alongside existing skiing and snowshoeing trails in the area can also ensure a safe trek.
Tantramar offers plenty of outdoor skating options for all ages and skill levels. The villages of Port Elgin and Dorchester both have outdoor skating rinks while there are a number of areas in Sackville where skaters can take to the ice.
“Although not maintained by the town, there are plenty of places to skate outside in Sackville,” Pryde says. “The Waterfowl Park and the swan pond are perfect examples. We just encourage skaters to be sure the ice is plenty thick before heading out.”
Silver Lake in Middle Sackville also offers a large skating surface for everyone to enjoy.
Skating is a fun activity that offers numerous benefits – better balance, improved joints, cardio, endurance, stress relief and more.
Skating is also offered at the Tantramar civic centre, during lunch hours Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and family skates Sunday afternoons.
Snowmobiling is a great way to experience the outdoors in winter. No matter how stressful your job or responsibilities, that will all fade away when you’re coasting over miles and miles of fresh snow in the wilderness.
When you hop on a snowmobile, you experience the thrill of cruising over well-groomed trails through backcountry many people don’t get to see – and there are plenty of those beautifully groomed trails in the Tantramar area. There are also nearby restaurants and gas stations accessible by snowmobile.
The Sackville Snowdrifters Club, founded in 1992 by a small group of local snowmobile enthusiasts, maintains more than 160 kilometres of trails through the backwoods and this region is said to feature some of the best snowmobiling in New Brunswick.
Overall, the province boasts about 53 clubs, thousands of snowmobilers, and over 8,000 km of trails.
And the good news is, the best time of year for snowmobiling is still yet to come as late winter sets in and riders can take advantage of longer days and warmer temperatures.
Manchester simply encourages everyone to get outdoors and enjoy everything the season has to offer, as winter truly is a magical time.
“Remaining physically active at all ages is important to everyone. For many of us, being physically active in the forests that surround us is also pleasurable and feeds our souls. No photograph or virtual reality game can ever come close to how the senses are filled while being deep in the woods, on a winter day (or night) and embracing all that surrounds you in its pristine and transformed presentation,” he says.
“Gliding through this environment, human powered, is what defines to be alive and awake. Stopping to listen and admire this setting fills you with deep awe at the beauty that surrounds us, in all seasons.”