With winter in full swing, Ontario Parks is giving out tips to keep winter trail users safe.

They say that because parks have trails made for winter use, there are some rules that cross-country skiers, hikers and snowshoers should follow in order to keep people safe. First and foremost they ask users to read the signs. Ontario Parks says they have specific rules for their winter trails, such as one way trails or trails that can only be used by certain kinds of equipment. They say these are designed for both safety and maintenance in mind. Ontario Parks also say to not hike or snowshoe on a ski surface if it has been groomed by staff. They say not only do volunteers spend time grooming these trails, but anyone other than skiers using them can make them dangerous for everyone. They add that crampons and winter boots can create holes in the snow that freeze over and create unsafe conditions for skiers. Parks Ontario say even dogs can cause these problems, and as a result are not allowed on winter trails. They say hikers and snowshoers should keep on designated trails as a result.

Parks Ontario says that sharing the trail is important to everyone. They say faster skiers have the right of way, and if you are slower you should step out of the trail to allow the faster skier to pass. They say if a skier yells “Track”, they are asking you to yield the right-of-way. They say that if you meet on a hill, the uphill skier should step aside and let the downhill skier pass. Parks Ontario also says to step out of the track if you are going to be stopped for any length of time. Snowshoers should keep to the side and try to avoid stepping on ski tracks.

Lastly, Parks Ontario urges users to check its Ski Report to stay up to date on conditions. For everyone’s safety, users should not cross bodies of water. They also say to travel with someone and make sure someone knows where you are at all times.