Friday, December 19

Arrowhead Park Ice Trail

Imagine gliding through a frosted forest, under a starry sky, on a ribbon of ice lit by flames reflecting on snow. You don't have to imagine it! You can experience it yourself on the ice skating trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park, just north of Huntsville, Muskoka. Now in its fourth year, the trail has become a must-do attraction for winter getaways.

Photo courtesy of Arrowhead Provincial Park

The skating trail is a 1.3 km loop through the forest at Arrowhead Park, and it's maintained by the park's own zamboni-like grooming machine. Cross-country ski trails, snowshoe trails and fat-biking trails also traverse the park grounds. Don't have your own skates, skis, snowshoes or fat bikes? Rent them at the park for reasonable rates. The park also provides inner tubes to use for free on their tubing hill. And, wow, it's a hill!

Perhaps the coolest thing about the ice skating trail at Arrowhead Park is the weekly Fire & Ice Night. Every Saturday (weather permitting) beginning December 27 and continuing through February, the skating trail is lit by tiki torches from 5-9pm for night time skating under the stars.

Arrowhead Provincial Park is located an easy drive from the inn. Looking for a winter getaway package to include accommodations and a day in Arrowhead Park? Try our Snowshoe in the Park package. It includes: 

Snowshoe in the Park Winter Getaway Package

  • Two nights accommodations
  • Breakfast both mornings
  • Handmade biscotti and gourmet hot chocolate
  • Use of snowshoes for the day
  • One-day Ontario Parks Pass for admission into Arrowhead and/or Algonquin Park

Rate: from $279/couple + tax (higher during Christmas/NewYears holidays and Family Day long weekend)

Visit the Fern Glen Inn website for more information, or call, email or book online.

See you at the park!

Friday, November 28

Quick and Easy Cocoa Brownies

Last week our good friend, Ed, was here helping Jim with some renos and maintenance. Normally, my job during this kind of work is to make supply runs to Home Depot and feed the guys so they can keep working. This time, however, I wasn't going to be here and they'd have to fend for themselves. Still, I wanted to leave them with a little treat before I flew out the door so I whipped up these quick and easy brownies, mostly because I had the ingredients on hand and it's one of the fastest recipes I've got, but also because nothing says "thanks for installing a new sink vanity" like chocolate.

I wasn't planning to share this recipe with you since I already have one (delicious!) brownie recipe on here, plus a recipe for fudgy cocoa cookies, and not to mention this ever-popular mocha porter chocolate cake. I thought maybe enough is enough, but then I came to my senses and remembered there is no such thing as too much chocolate!

So the next time a chocolate craving hits when you're in a hurry and your pantry is down to the basics —or you want to thank somebody in a deliciously meaningful way— whip up a batch of these brownies and lose yourself to chocolate in no time flat.

Quick pan prep: just press in a sheet of parchment paper and crimp over the edges.

Quick and Easy Cocoa Brownies

These brownies are made with cocoa powder instead of chocolate, which makes for a soft, tender texture. It also means they mix up quickly by cutting out the extra step of chopping and melting chocolate. Another time-saving trick is to use a 9" pan instead of an 8" pan because the thinner layer of batter in the larger pan bakes more quickly than a thicker layer in a smaller pan. If all you have is an 8"pan, go ahead and use it but add a few minutes to the baking time.

  • 5 oz (1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 oz (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9" square baking pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick baking spray.

Melt the butter in a large glass mixing bowl in the microwave or in a medium size sauce pan on the stove top. Whisk in the cocoa until smooth, then the sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

Sift the flour and baking powder over top and stir with the whisk until just combined. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is slightly puffed and dry, about 24-26 minutes. Let cool (if you can) before slicing and serving.

* I used dutch process cocoa powder in the brownies pictured here, but the recipe works just as well with regular non-alkalized cocoa powder. Use whichever you have on hand.

Friday, November 21

Winter comes early

The snow is deeper than the Coop Deck and nearly to the top of the Muskoka chairs.

 It's not unusual to have the occasion snowfall or short blast of flurries in November. In fact, most years we get a little taste of snow as a prelude of the winter to come, but it's usually an insubstantial dusting that melts within days. Not this time.

The snow started for earnest in the second week of November and it basically hasn't stopped. It is now November 21st, a month before winter officially arrives, but it looks like February out there -- a particularly snowy February at that!

I don't know if all this snow is here to stay until spring. We've got some more seasonal, above-freezing temperatures and rain in the forecast so we may see the grass again before winter arrives for good. Until then, we'll strap on our snowshoes and enjoy the fluffy stuff!

Jim had to snowshoe to the chicken coop to check on the ladies.

More snow falls.
That's the picnic table in front of the gazebo frame.
The Muskoka chairs around the fire bowl.
This way to winter!
Walking in a wonderland.
 There's plenty of winter still to come. Find out how you can enjoy the snowy season with a Winter Getaway package for snowshoeing, dog sledding, or a cozy weekend in the country.

Wednesday, October 29

Cool-weather Friends

The chickadees aren't always eating out of our hands... 
Not when we're taking a break on a lovely autumn afternoon.

If you've never heard the expression "fair-weather friends" it refers to those who only want to spend time with you when all is (figuratively) sunny and bright in your world. Well that certainly does not include the chickadees and nuthatches who share our forest. Quite the opposite, in fact.

These little feathered friends ignore us throughout the bountiful days of summer and only honey up to us when autumn sets in and chillier days are upon us. They don't even have to know you. They'll be your new BFFs, quite happy to hang out with you -- as long as you've got a palmfull of birdseed -- until well into spring when the sunshine and warm temps bring back all sorts of natural food sources for them. 

We don't mind this fickleness. Cool-weather friends or not, it's always a treat to share a feast with these little birds with big personalities.

A chickadee making sure it finds the *best* seed. Yes, they're choosy!

Aerodynamic nuthatch grabbing a snack.

The nuthatch keeps coming back for more. Must be stockpiling!

Thursday, October 2

Screaming Heads in Autumn

Raise your  hand if you love autumn!
Jim and I made time for an afternoon fall drive last week and meandered up to Midlothian Road for a fantastical walk in, around and through the Screaming Heads.

The Screaming Heads outdoor artscape is a fascinating place to explore at any time of year, but the "wow factor" goes into overdrive in autumn. Add a backdrop of brilliant fall colours to the already striking vistas of cast concrete sculptures, geodesic domes, pyramids and house-turned-castle, and it's an autumn experience that can't be missed. It got even more interesting this year when it was yarn-bombed by a group of knitters as part of the Almaguin Highlands Sweater Weather weekend.

Well hi there!
View from the ferry crossing.
Through the geodesic dome.
Even the sunbeams are getting their groove on!

Trail through the woods.
Expansive view.
I call this one "Jazz Hands". :)
Colour me happy -- love those hills!
"A pyramid, a horse and a hand walk into an artscape..."
The glove fits! Yarn-bombed sculptures for the Sweater Weather weekend.

Do you want to see this for yourself? We provide maps, directions and itinerary suggestions to our guests at Fern Glen Inn; or stop in at the Burk's Falls welcome centre and ask for directions to the Screaming Heads.

Monday, September 8

Fall Fuel & Fun

Read about our hike on the Centennial Ridges Trail

As if a getaway in the beautiful season of autumn wasn't spectacular enough, it gets even better with the Fuel & Fun promo from Explorers' Edge. Book your Fall Getaway now and get $100 in free gas and goodies!

Just book your getaway by September 30th for a 2-night stay between October 1st and 31st and you can be 1 of 200 travelers to receive a $50 gas card and $50 worth of vouchers to use-as-cash at participating restaurants, shops and attractions!

You can combine the Fuel & Fun promo with any of our packages or with any standard two-night stay. Our famous breakfasts are always included, along with use of our property, fire bowl, hot tub, private hiking trails and rustic cabin guest lounge.

Quantities are limited -- first come, first served -- so act quickly to avoid disappointment.

When do you stay?
Any two consecutive nights between October 1 and October 31, 2014

When do you book?
Make your reservation and register for your vouchers (we'll tell you how) by September 30, 2014

What do you get?
$50 gas card plus $50 in spending vouchers to use at participating shops, eateries and attractions during your stay. Of course, you also get two comfortable nights and two delicious breakfasts at Fern Glen Inn.

What's the catch?
There is none! You don't have to "buy one" to "get one" nor spend a minimum amount of money. Consider the free gas and vouchers as an invitation to come explore this beautiful region, courtesy of Explorers' Edge.

The Fuel & Fun Fall Getaway at Fern Glen Inn

Your getaway includes:

Fuel & Fun Fall Getaway Price: starting from $236**

**Most dates are $236/couple; the Thanksgiving long weekend rate is $270/couple for two nights or $375/couple for three nights. Lower rates available for solo travelers. 13% HST is extra.

Callemail or book online. Visit Fuel & Fun at Fern Glen Inn for details.
: :   : :   : :   : :

* Quantities are limited. Only the first 200 "Qualified Bookings" within the entire Explorers' Edge region will receive the Gas Cards and Experience Vouchers. To be a "Qualified Booking", you must:
• book by Sept 30, 2014
• register your confirmation number directly at Explorers' Edge
• stay between Oct 1 and Oct 31, 2014
• stay for 2 consecutive nights or longer
Experience Vouchers may only be used between 
Oct 1 and Oct 31, 2014

In partnership with

Wednesday, September 3

Paddle at Your Own Pace: Ragged Falls Day Trip

I've told you before about the paddling day trip to Ragged Falls near Oxtongue Lake. It's a popular excursion for guests in summer and fall, and for good reason:

It suits pretty much every skill level; it feels like being in the wilderness while not being far off the beaten path; it provides a scenic destination to aim for instead of just wandering around a lake; and as a 3-hour or so round trip, it's the right length of time to feel like you've done something substantial without eating up your whole day.

Now it's even easier for our guests to paddle to Ragged Falls because Algonquin Outfitters, the fine folks who'll rent you a canoe right by the water, are providing vouchers for us to include in our packages which you can use to rent a 2-person canoe or to put towards other equipment (such as kayaks or stand up paddleboards).

And if you want a canoeing day trip that's either tamer or more challenging than the paddle to Ragged Falls, you can use the voucher for other options, too.

Paddle at Your Own Pace: Ragged Falls Day Trip

Package includes:
• 2 nights accommodation
• Breakfast both mornings
• Canoe rental voucher

From $275/couple + hst
If choosing an option in Algonquin Park, add $15 for a one-day park pass.

For more information or to book your paddling getaway package, call us at 1-866-311-8519, shoot us an email, or book online via our website at

Thursday, July 24

Summer and Fall Events Listings

There's so much happening throughout the region in the summer and fall, from live performances to sporting events to active learning to shopping and dining. Of course you don't have to do anything but relax and unwind if that's your perfect getaway, but if you do want to be entertained, inspired, and enlightened, you'll find plenty of choices.

Check out these Events Listings and Calendars to see what's happening on your days in the area, or browse the offerings and plan your trip to coincide.

Calendar of Events, Huntsville and Area

Festivals and Cultural Events, Huntsville and Area

Sporting Events, Huntsville and Area

Events Listings, Explorers' Edge tourism region

Calendar of Events, Muskoka tourism region

Sunday, July 20

The BBC comes to Emsdale!

Unwinding after a long day. The camera is out to get some moon and star shots after night falls.

We were delighted to host a film crew from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) for 12 nights earlier this month. They were here to film at a local bear rehabilitation sanctuary as part of a nature documentary series for BBC Earth

Jim and I are big fans of BBC programming, so we were thrilled to have a peripheral connection to the production. Of course we made sure our "boys from the beeb" were well-fed and comfortably housed, but they also enjoyed unwinding with a bonfire, a bit of "footy" with the soccer ball, or a soak in the hot tub after a long day of shooting.

And boy, did they put in long days! They started early every morning and often worked well into the evening. Definitely a hard-working, focused team. And yet, even with the long hours, they were still absolutely lovely guests. Always pleasant and cheerful -- even early in the morning before the first cup of coffee! -- and happy to share their stories and adventures with us.

They've promised to let us know when the documentary comes out, and we'll be sure to let you know, too.

Geraint, Sam, me (Jackie), Jim, Graham and Matt. It's a wrap!

Thanks, boys, for a great visit!

Tuesday, July 1

Happy Canada Day!

On July 1st we celebrate the vast and beautiful land, the warm and diverse people, and the values and aspirations that comprise this great country that is Canada.

Canadians -- whether they were born here or adopted this country as their own -- feel proud and blessed to call it home. Visitors, we hope, feel genuinely welcomed and are enriched by their time here.

Everyone, Canadian and visitor alike, owes it to themselves to experience the full breadth and wonder of this country at some point. In the meantime, you can travel it vicariously through a classic from the National Film Board of Canada.

My recommendation for your Canada Day celebrations: include a 25 minute journey across Canada with Buster Keaton in the 1965 silent film comedic travelogue, The Railrodder. This is a favourite with my family and I hope you enjoy it also.

Happy Canada Day!

Watch The Railrodder on YouTube: The Railrodder on the NFB channel

Monday, June 30

June in Pictures

The month started off right with beautiful swimming weather. Arrowhead Park beach looks practically tropical!

Lilacs in bloom are a sure sign it's early summer. My mom's favourite flower!

Some of our so-called wild life, though that bunny looks pretty mellow to me (and Saba's pretty chill, too).

Our little fawn is growing up! Two-year old Kit came back for a visit.

Late June is a lush time. The trees form a green tunnel on the Seguin Trail.

Wildflowers add a splash of colour.
Beautiful day for a walk up to the little lake.

Summer sunshine on Fern Glen Inn

Friday, June 20

Huntsville Half - Band on the Run 2014

Happy runners showing off our hardware!

Race kits and Fuel & Fun
The 2014 Band on the Run was a great success. This was the third year of the event and it just keeps getting bigger and better.

Our guests had a fabulous time, and so did we! As innkeepers with busy weekend business, we don't usually get out to festivals ourselves, but this is one event that we make sure we can attend.

Jim runs the 10k every year (this year he got his best time for this course!) while I stick with the 5k. Our running guests opted for the 5k distance for their first year at the Huntsville Half because the course is notoriously hilly. For one of our guests, it was his very first timed race and he rocked it by placing 4th in his 50-59 age category -- and he smoked the rest of us 5k-ers in the group!

By limiting our guests to runners and their cheering squad, we were able to change up our breakfast routine on race day. Because we wanted to give the runners control of their breakfast intake (and Jim and I needed to keep clean-up simple so we could leave with our guests) we set up a self-serve buffet breakfast with bagels and toppings, fruit, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, chia puddings, cereal, granola, and peanut butter cookies, along with coffe, tea, milk and orange juice.

We opened the dining room early so everyone could be at the starting grounds by 8am to get checked in and warmed up, and to see the half-marathoners take off. We had already picked up the race kits for our guests the day before, so check-in was quick and easy.

Danny Michel
After the morning run, we came back to change and freshen up, while some of the guests enjoyed a well-earned soak in the hot tub. Back to town for the afternoon concert. Danny Michel, Whitehorse, and Matt Mayes all but on great performances. It's worth mentioning that Luke Doucet (half of the Whitehorse duo) ran the half marathon before performing. Not only that, he placed 1st in his age category and 3rd overall! Talk about a dedicated runner and a dedicated musician!


The all-ages, licensed concert in the park was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Afterwards, we all opted to head over to the Iron Skillet in Kearney for a satisfying dinner to end the day.

Our guests are already talking about coming back for the Huntsville Half - Band on the Run next year and we will be marking it on our calendars as soon as we know the date. Follow us on facebook to keep in the loop with events around here, or visit Band on the Run and subscribe to their newsletter.

Matt Mayes
We hope to see you next year!