Day or Night, this Trail’s Alright!

Arrowhead’s skating trail is always a fun time

Armed with our annual Ontario Parks pass, our family grabs our skating gear and heads to Arrowhead Provincial Park for our weekly visit.

It feels like we’ve been there thousands of times, but it doesn’t stop being an enjoyable experience. We’ll bring friends and family with us at times to skate the 1.3 km trail for as many loops as possible (basically until the kids are done – which can be one to two hours long).

Our family prefers skating on Sunday afternoons as they can be a little less full, but whenever the trail is open mid-week, that’s the best time to avoid crowds. However, even during busy times like Saturdays and during the Fire & Ice weekend evening skates, there is much fun to be had.

The evening skates are a must-try. The trail is lit beautifully by tiki torches and even when it snows, the atmosphere is stunning. Of course, nothing beats a night skate under a new moon when the sky is clear and sparkling with stars.

One thing to note is on overcast nights the trail is pretty dark, so it may take a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dim lighting.

Parent Tip: Safe fire pits are set up at the start of the trail, where you change into your skates, and families who think ahead will surely bring marshmallows to roast (or perhaps a full s’mores kit). As well, there is skate training equipment free to use.

Good to know before you go

Reserve your day use pass in advance to ensure you can get into the park. Arrowhead can fill up quickly, especially in the winter as it also features amazing cross country ski and snowshoe trails.

Even seasonal or annual pass holders should book their visit ahead (although there is no extra charge if you have already purchased a pass).

Day use passes can be booked up to five days in advance and the website even allows you to pre-register your vehicle information for a smooth and easy visit. Go to to reserve your spot.

As well, stay tuned to Arrowhead on Twitter for live updates as weather conditions could require the trail to close, or the park could be full (which is why it’s essential to book in advance).

Fire & Ice night skates are only held Fridays and Saturdays. When booking your pass, be sure to select the Day Use plus Fire and Ice Evening Skate option.

Use common sense

Always dress according to temperature and weather conditions, which likely means layering in the winter. As you can see by the photos, after a few laps, it’s time to ditch the winter coat (as long as you have a warm sweater on top of a long- or short-sleeved undershirt).

Go to the trail with the expectation of it being busy. If it’s not, that should be a pleasant surprise. If you don’t like crowds, definitely avoid weekends.

When on the ice, respect the other skaters and be aware of those around you. There are a variety of levels, from beginners to experts, and everyone is there to have fun.

We all know you’re a superstar, so you don’t have to show off by flying in and out of crowded areas, dipping in between less experienced skaters, making them nervous and ruining their fun.

Keep all of the above in mind and you’ll have more fun, while ensuring everyone else does as well.

Check out the video below for a preview of both the day and night skates (sorry about the poor lighting on the night skate).

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