After seeing an article on social media about Arrowhead Provincial Park’s outdoor skating trail and rental cabins, I was intrigued. Upon further investigation, Arrowhead’s web site warns that it is an extremely popular destination during winter months. The cabins book up quickly upon release of available dates. However, in nearby Huntsville, there are plenty of hotels, motels and B & B’s to choose from. After perusing Expedia.ca, my friend and I settled on a room at the Motel 6, just off the highway. We headed out after work last Friday evening for a weekend of some good, old-fashioned fun, playing in the snow.
We arrived at our room late Friday night and found our room with 2 double beds to be clean and decently modern (considering the $80/night price tag). This included a small fridge and television, and morning coffee. After a bit of a sleep-in, knowing Saturday was going to be a long day, we headed to the park around lunch time.
The web site was right! The park was very busy, especially the skating trail. We decided to start with some snowshoeing, which turned out to be the best part of our day.
We traveled along the Stubbs Falls trail to the beautiful falls, where thanks to the snow and ice, we could walk right up to the edge of the river and falls. The falls are long, winding and cascading, and at this time of year, feature interesting snow and ice formations.
We spent so much time snowshoeing that we missed the afternoon skating period, but knew we were going to go back to skate at night. Every other Saturday during the winter months, weather permitting, they close down the trail for a few hours in late afternoon to regroom, and open it back up from 6:00 – 9:00 pm for night skating.
When I say groom, I really mean groom!
My friend and I were really excited to skate at night. They light the trail with approximately 200 tiki torches, and have one or two bonfires. Remember I mentioned how popular a destination this is? It took us approximately 20-30 minutes of sitting in line, waiting to get into the park and finding a parking space. We did not think to bring head lamps or flashlights, so the walk from the parking lot to the skating trail was daunting, lit by only a few, small, battery-operated lanterns. And there were SWARMS of people. For me, to be honest, this took away from the experience. I have been skating outdoors before, in Ottawa on the Rideau Canal (see my blog post here), and at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. MacGregor was my first experience skating on an outdoor trail. There was something about skating amongst the trees, with snow softly falling around you…it was magical. Part of what made it so was that there were not a ton of people around. It was relatively quiet and peaceful. This was not the case at Arrowhead; it was loud and crowded. Still, it was pretty, and I’m glad we tried it. If you think about doing this, I would recommend trying to find a time when it is less crowded. The good news, too, is that other outdoor skating trails exist and more are popping up due to their popularity. See here fore more information.
I leave with you with a few fun photos – I did say that my friend and I went to play in the snow! Can I just say though: making a snow angel with snowshoes on is not easy! The top 2 photos were taken by my travel companion, Lyndsay, and the bottom one was a selfie (not easy with a large, heavy camera!).
All images by me (except where noted); copyright Tina Beynen, 2016.