Two and a half hours away from Toronto, you’ll find a little winter oasis for families where you can go ice skating on a forest trail, tubing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. You might have already heard about the skating trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park, but there are a lot of other things to do there, too.
If you live in Southern Ontario, you need to put this park on your family’s bucket list. It’s not a big park by any means, but what this park lacks in size it more than makes up for with its easy access to nature and many different activities. During the winter, I’ve visited this park on a number of occasions and my family has done everything there, except snowshoeing.
Getting There and Planning Your Trip
Before you start your trip to Arrowhead Provincial Park make sure you check out the park’s website to see what is open and active in the park. The activities are dependant on the weather and the skating might be closed if it is too warm or no skiing if they don’t have enough snow.
Driving up to the park and back from the GTA can be done in a day trip, but it is perhaps more enjoyable to stay over a night or two. There are many hotels, resorts and Airbnbs close by, or your family can choose to stay in one of the cabins in the park. Keep in mind the park can be quite busy on Saturdays so if you want to avoid the crowds visit the park on Sundays or during the week.
One thing to keep in mind is to bring a supply of food and drinks for your adventure as Arrowhead Provincial Park does not have any restaurants. I always fill my kids’ thermoses with our family’s favourite hot stews and pasta and don’t forget the hot chocolate, fruit and other snacks.
The park does have places to warm up during your visit. They have open fire pits, warming huts and a welcome centre with a fireplace.
Arrowhead Provincial Park is open 7 days a week:
Ice Skating Trail is open from 11 am to 5:30 pm
Snowshoe Trails are open from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Tubing Hill is open from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Fire & Ice nights this season will be held on the following days: February 29, March 7, and March 14. The park offers rentals of skates, cross country skis and snowshoes. They don’t rent helmets so bring your own for safe skating and tubing.
Admission on weekdays is $17 per car and $20 each car during the weekend. Admission covers access to skating trail and tubing while access to the cross country skiing trails is an additional fee.
Arrowhead Ice Skating Trail
Nestled between pine trees winding through the forest, the 1.3 km skating trail is quite picturesque. The loop is winding and kids of all ages will enjoy skating the trail. It’s easy to understand why this fairy-like setting is one of Ontario’s top outdoor attractions. Some skaters find the trail a little advanced as it is a bit different from skating on an ice rink because some parts of the trail go a little uphill and downhill. A new dimension is revealed on the trail during Fire and Ice nights. With the icy path lighted by torches, families can experience gliding through the night under romantic firelight.
Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing
Arrowhead Provincial Park has 28 km of groomed cross country skiing trails and 8 km of snowshoe trails with a heated cabin for warming up. I found that a family-friendly ski trail is the Arrowhead Lake Loop around Arrowhead Lake. The terrain is not overwhelming for newer skiers with its flat sections and rewarding views of the lake. There are a few hills on the end of the loop, but this just makes it more exciting for the kids. If you don’t want to cross country ski, you can try snowshoeing. If you can walk, you can snowshoe and enjoy the snow-covered forest.
The tubing is included in the admission fee. The tubing hill is old school without any lifts and each tuber has to carry their tube (supplied by the park for free) up. We found it a wonderful added bonus after a day of skating and no one complained about the walk up and enjoyed the thrill of the hill.
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