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, and offers a few evenings for torchlit skating on select nights.
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 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, you should dress in layers, with warm hats, gloves or mitts, and possibly long underwear, for the coldest days.
You can also cross-country ski and snowshoe at the park, and there’s a Rental building next to the Visitor Centre where you can rent equipment, including skis, skates, and snowshoes.
ARROWHEAD SKATING DETAILS
To get into the park, a daily vehicle pass will cost you $21 with tax, or you can get in with an Ontario Parks annual pass. Arrowhead has gone paperless for day use permits now, and you can book your day pass up to 5 days in advance of the day you would like to visit.
Since the skating trail has become very popular, it’s best to book your day pass in advance, as there’s no guarantee that you will get in to the park otherwise. Visit their Twitter account for the latest updates, where they will announce closures, especially due to weather, and if the park reaches capacity.
Skate rentals are $15 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 and adults, it’s also worth noting that the park offers helmet rentals, or you can bring your own, and there are bathrooms available as well.
Generally, weekends are the busiest time at the park, so if you want to enjoy your time there, you will want to plan to visit during the week, especially for Fire and Ice nights.
Weather permitting, skating is open at the park from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with the ice trail closed for maintenance from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Fire and Ice skating nights are every Friday and Saturday night beginning in late January, and they book up fast, so it’s wise to book a day pass in advance.
Watch my video below to get a peek at what it’s like to skate the trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park, and get all the details on planning your visit on the Ontario Parks blog.
WHERE TO STAY
There are a number of options for hotels in and around Huntsville, and you can also book winter cabins at Arrowhead, but I highly 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 Best Western Plus Muskoka Inn, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, and Deerhurst Resort, but it’s also not a long drive from Gravenhurst, and there is a lot to do in that area. My favourite hotel there is the Residence Inn by Marriott Gravenhurst Muskoka Wharf (find out more about the hotel), 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 beer on tap, and you can buy cans and bottles from their store as well. February 17 to 23 you can also enjoy the Gravenhurst Winter Carnival.
Watch my video from the Arrowhead Skating Trail:
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