The Muskoka lake region north of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, is well-known for its summertime beauty. It turns out to be an incredible place for an outdoor adventure in the winter as well. With average temperatures that never go above freezing, though, spending time outside here requires the right equipment, expert knowledge, and basic precautions. It’s also worth rewarding yourself with a big city stay after your rugged outdoor time. These images give a glimpse into our winter expedition to Huntsville, Ontario, along with what you need to know to make this epic trip happen yourself.

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We arrive in Canada to explore the Muskoka lake region of Ontario in the heart of winter. Before heading to Huntsville, where we’ll be based, we stay in the city of Burlington on Lake Ontario. We spend the night at the Waterfront Hotel in downtown Burlington, which gifts us with a front-row view of a glowing sunrise over the lake.

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Our second day takes us to Huntsville, the largest town in the Muskoka lake region north of Toronto, where we arrive at our home for the next few nights. We pull into the Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, a publicly accessible year-round wilderness reserve with 10,000 acres of mixed forest. Even better, there’s a plethora of cozy cabins you can choose to rent out.

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Hole of death or cold plunge? Cold plunges are cut out of lakes and overlaid with docks, which make the scramble out of the water easier. And, trust us, you’ll want scrambling out to be easy. We have to break up a thin layer of ice that has formed over the top of the water before we take the plunge.

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That evening, we lace up our boots and head out for a moonlit snowshoe. One of the major issues with winter camping and adventuring is staying dry. We make sure to wear boots that have liners so we can take them out to dry, and we wear snowshoes that will keep us from sinking into deep snow.

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When you think of winter, you automatically assume you’ll be cold. However, when recreating, it’s important to keep yourself from sweating — since that sweat can freeze once you stop. After all, average January temperatures in Huntsville range from 5 to 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Wearing layers with zippers means you can monitor your temperature, and ensure you don’t start sweating.

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Winter camping can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Having the correct gear and knowing how to keep yourself comfortable can ensure you have an enjoyable time when sleeping in the snow. We pack down the snow around our tent before using piled snow to stake it. It’s essential to have a four-season tent, warm sleeping bags, and layers that will keep you toasty through the winter night.

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Winter camping means cooking all of your food outside. When winter adventuring, it’s incredibly important to stay fueled, so we make sure to eat hot food and stay hydrated. We are lucky enough to have a great cooking setup, with an outdoor fireplace laid out and a raised stove ready to use. Stomping out an area where you want to place your stove can help ensure you have a windproof outdoor kitchen. Please be wary of cooking inside your tent, as it can be very dangerous; snow and a closed tent can cut off air circulation and lead to a lack of oxygen.

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No winter camping trip would be complete without sleeping in a quinzee, or snow-cave. Quinzees are a fun way to sleep outside in the winter, and are often quieter, warmer, and darker than tents. It’s extremely important to make sure you learn how to build one from someone with experience before trying this on your own, as snow needs to settle, and you need to learn how to build it in a way that keeps it from collapsing.

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Quinzees are much warmer than you might think, as they block out cold wind that can leave tents flapping in the breeze. However, warm sleeping pads and sleeping bags don’t hurt, and they can make your quinzee sleeping experience really comfortable. Pictured here are people bundled in their Therm-a-Rest sleeping bags who are more than ready to sleep through the night.

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Biking and winter may not seem like they go hand-in-hand, but thanks to a brand we found called Otso, we’re able to head out for a bike ride. All of these fat bikes have wide tires, and some are even studded which enable them to grip the snow and stop you from sliding out. We glide over frozen trails like it’s summertime. Similar to any other form of winter adventure, it's important to wear layers that will keep you from sweating.

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After a few days of adventuring in the wild, we highly recommend treating yourself to some R&R. We head to Hotel X Toronto, a hotel with resort-style amenities that leave us feeling refreshed. All of the rooms have epic views of the city, and we are excited to have a great place to rest after exploring the great outdoors of Huntsville and the Muskoka region.

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After checking in, we find ourselves at Maxx’s Kitchen, where we indulge in cocktails and a delicious meal made with local ingredients. After dinner, we decide to experience more of the hotel and head to the hotel's Falcon SkyBar, a three-level rooftop bar with views of the entire Toronto skyline.

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After dinner and cocktails, we explore the city a little. We head toward the Distillery District to check out the Toronto Light Festival, where we marvel at sculptures crafted to be aesthetically interesting both in the daytime and at night, when their true colors really show.

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No trip to Toronto is complete without a visit to the iconic CN Tower, which soars more than 1,800 feet over the city. Before heading home, we take a trip to the top of the tower, where visitors can look out over the city and Lake Ontario.

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