Great Skate #30: Arrowhead Provincial Park

The skating trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park opened in 2012, but I first started hearing about it last year. I put it on my wish list, but wasn't sure if schedules, weather and transportation logistics would ever align for me to skate there.

On Saturday, February 14, everything aligned. Watch my video of what it's like to skate on the Arrowhead skating trail:

Arrowhead is just north of Huntsville, Ontario. It's many hours north of my neighbourhood in Toronto, but not so far from where my parents live in Orillia. I was visiting Mum and Dad this weekend, and they were somewhat surprisingly game to go on this adventure with me. The weather on Saturday had warmed up to -12 Celsius. The sun was shining and the roads were clear. So, dressed in many layers, we set off.

Everything went smoothly until we got to the park entrance. It's about a kilometre from the highway turnoff to the park gate, and a long line of cars was snaked along the entire distance. We persevered, and after about 30 minutes we finally made it to the gate, paid our admission fee and made our way to the skating rink.

People sitting at picnic tables at the Arrowhead Skating Trail
At the start of the trail.
I had mistakenly set my camera
to the "old-timey romantic nostalgia" setting.
The skating trail was worth the wait. It's 1.3 km long, starting and ending in the same place. There are benches to sit on, cubby shelves to stash your boots in, and a campfire to warm your toes by. The trail loops through the trees, on natural ice that is banked by high snowdrifts. There were lots of people there, but the length of the trail means that you don't see everyone all at once, and often it felt like you were the only person on the ice.

I was very impressed that my parents felt brave enough to test their skating legs. Dad didn't last very long, despite having new skates. Mum finished a whole loop! Then they patiently waited by the fire while I did six more laps. After all, who knows when I'll get the chance to skate here again?

Things to know about skating at Arrowhead Provincial Park

The Arrowhead Provincial Park website is a bit thin on details, so here are some things to know about skating at Arrowhead:
  • Check the skating trail hours before you leave. The Saturday we were there, it was open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Admission was $16 per vehicle for non-skiers. (The price may have changed since then.)
  • When the park is busy, there is a one-car-in-when-one-car-leaves policy, so you may be in for a long wait to enter the park.
  • The park seems to always be busy on weekends.
  • Pack your own snacks, hot chocolate etc. I don't think there is much for sale in the park, and certainly not near the skating trail.
  • Be prepared to be outside in the cold. The only heated shelter I saw was the washrooms.

My logistics & transportation sponsors. 

Wayfinding signs at the Arrowhead Skating Trail

Skaters on the Arrowhead Skating Trail


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