Lace ‘Em Up: Outdoor Skating in Ontario’s Cottage Country

Skating on a frozen lake is as quintessentially Canadian as it gets! Slap on your favourite toque, lace up your skates next to a bonfire at the shoreline, and set out for adventure amidst snow-dusted treetops – a truly unforgettable winter experience.

This region is home to the province’s most popular outdoor rink, the Ice Trail at Arrowhead in Huntsville, MuskokaIf you haven’t been to see it yet, make this the winter you check it out! And consider so many other hot spots to skate: from local accommodations flooding their own rinks, to new ice trails, to a ‘bog hockey pond’, we’ve got all the glistening ice you can handle – just north of Toronto.

SKATING TRAILS GALORE

Once upon a time the Ice Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park was the only one of its kind. Now you’ll find quite a few more of these neat rinks waiting for you throughout Ontario’s cottage country.

Located at Tom Thomson Park in South River, The Ice Ribbon Skating Path is a 400m-long loop through the park and along the shores of Forest Lake in the beautiful Almaguin Highlands.

Further south in Muskoka, the Hanna Park Skating Trail in Port Carling is built next to the paved walking path that circles the playground and volleyball courts there. (A washroom is available when the trail is open, and the flood lights come on for four hours after dark to light the trail for night skating)

In Bracebridge, head downtown to the Memorial Park Winter Village. The skating surface fills the majority of the park space and circles the gazebo. Be sure to check it out at night as well, when the trees are lit with twinkling lights and the park is dotted with multi-coloured glowing cube structures for a magical ambiance. Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville also has their own ice trail on site too, with skates available to guests from their activity desk if you don’t have your own.

And if the thought of an aprés-skate beverage sounds good, be sure to visit the ice trail at Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery. Their trail is made on the flooded cranberry bogs, and with their new McArthur House Cafe now open, you can treat yourself to a hot mulled wine after your skate.

Photo Credit: Cedar Grove Lodge by Mark Reeder Photography

ICE HOCKEY

While you’re at Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery, don’t forget to check out their Bog Hockey rinks. They’ve flooded an acre of cranberry beds, added boards and some nets – the perfect set up for a pick-up game with your fellow shinny enthusiasts. (Use of the hockey rink is included with your ice trail pass, so you can make a whole day of outdoor adventuring.)

Looking for an organized event you can join with a team of friends? The Taylor Cup Pond Hockey Championship is being held at Bayview Wildwood Resort in Severn Bridge from January 24-25, 2020. This weekend-long event follows a 4-on-4 format with no goaltenders. Games are played on Friday evening and during the day on Saturday, followed by the buffet awards dinner on Saturday night. To register your team, click here.

The North American Cup Original Pond Hockey Classic is another great hockey tournament taking place on Lake Muskoka at the Gravenhurst Wharf from February 7-9, 2020. This is a three-day round robin style tournament with teams playing 4-on-4. This is their 13th annual event and in addition to the fun on the ice, you’ll enjoy their massive kickoff celebration on Friday night, the indoor beer tent open all weekend long (please drink responsibly) at Boston Pizza, as well as live entertainment and a seat aboard their pub crawl bus. To register your team, click here.

And make sure you register early for the Barstool Sports Pond Hockey Tournament taking place February 28-29, 2020. This is the first of its kind for Barstool and the only event happening in Canada – also on Lake Muskoka at the Gravenhurst Wharf. It’s lining up to be a sellout event, so be sure to sign up when they begin taking registrations on December 16th. For more details, click here.

Photo Credit: Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery

SKATING RINK ON SITE

Lots of fine accommodations are also home to on-site rinks, so be sure to consider a skating getaway this witner. Cleared and flooded on an ongoing basis by dedicated owners and staff, these lakefront rinks really are a labour of love. (You might even find a bonfire set up by the lake to warm your toes after your skate!)

Bayview Wildwood Resort Severn Bridge
Blue Spruce Resort Dwight
Blue Water Acres Resort Huntsville
Cedar Grove Lodge Huntsville
Dayspring Cottages Katrine
Deerhurst Resort Huntsville
Grand Tappattoo Resort Seguin
Hidden Valley Resort Huntsville
JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa Minett
Sherwood Inn Port Carling
Tally Ho Inn Huntsville
Trillium Resort & Spa Port Sydney

  • Know of any great ice skating hot spots we’ve missed? Tell us at info@explorersedge.ca. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: ALWAYS CHECK THE SAFETY OF THE ICE BEFORE HEADING OUT!

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