The skating trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park should be one of your bucket list travel plans this winter. There is really nothing like skating through the forest, and on special Fire and Ice nights at the park, you can skate under the stars, with the trail lit by torches.
The 1.3 km ice trail is a loop through part of Arrowhead Park, which is a short drive from Huntsville, Ontario. The trail is open daily, weather permitting, starting on December 13 this year, and then offers a few evenings for torchlit skating starting on December 31.
Before you start skating, there’s a space to lace up, warm up by the fire, or just take a break, and it’s really wonderful just to sit there for a few minutes.
Once you’re out on the ice, the trail is wide enough that you can go at your own pace, stop for a break, and enjoy the forest as you breeze through the woods.
Because it can get windy, and quite cold, it’s best to plan to dress in layers, with warm hats, gloves or mitts, and possibly long underwear, for the coldest days.
You can also tube, cross-country ski, and snowshoe at the park, and there’s a Pro-Shop in the Visitor Centre where you can rent equipment, including skis, skates, and snowshoes.
For anyone in Toronto without a car, you can also plan to get to Arrowhead Park on the ParkBus, which has a number of trips planned to the park this winter.
ICE TRAIL DETAILS
To get into the park, a daily vehicle pass will cost you $18 on weekdays, or $21 on weekends, or you can get in with an Ontario Parks pass. Skate rentals are $10 for up to 3 hours, which is more than enough time to skate, sit by the fire, and enjoy the trail. Or you can bring your own skates of course.
For kids, the park doesn’t offer helmets, so it’s best to bring one for them.
Before you head out to the park, it’s wise to check the latest news from Arrowhead. Visit their Twitter account for the latest updates, where they will announce closures, especially due to weather, and if the park reaches capacity.
Generally, weekends can get very busy at the park, so if you want to enjoy your time there, you may want to plan to visit during the week, especially for Fire and Ice nights.
Weather permitting, skating is open at the park from 11 AM to 5 PM in December and January, from 11 AM to 5:30 PM in February, and 11 AM to 6 PM in March. On Fire and Ice nights, the trail closes from 3 PM to 6 PM for maintenance.
Fire and Ice skating nights at Arrowhead will start on December 31, 2019 with the last date on March 14, 2020. The full list of dates are below, with Saturdays marked in bold.
- December 31, 2019
- January 4, 2020
- January 11, 2020
- January 16, 2020
- February 1, 2020
- February 8, 2020
- February 14, 2020
- February 20, 2020
- February 29, 2020
- March 7, 2020
- March 14, 2020
WHERE TO STAY
While you can take the ParkBus to Arrowhead, or drive there for the day, I really recommend planning a two- or three-day trip, just to enjoy the area, experience what can be a real winter wonderland, and make the most of your adventure.
Huntsville has a number of hotels and places to stay, including Deerhurst Resort, but it’s also not a long drive from Gravenhurst either, and there is a lot to do in that area. I am a big fan of the Residence Inn by Marriott Gravenhurst Muskoka Wharf, which includes free breakfast, a fireplace in your room, and the hotel is also pet-friendly.
While you’re in Gravenhurst, I also highly recommend a stop at Sawdust City Brewing Company, where they have a large number of their beers on tap, and you can buy cans and bottles of beer from their store as well. February 14 to 17 you can also enjoy the Gravenhurst Winter Carnival.