Forget an ice rink - nothing beats skating on a naturally frozen pond or lake in the wild outdoors. In Ontario, there are several spots that freeze up in the winter and allow for some good old-fashioned ice skating and pond hockey.
While the locations on this list may not be entirely secret, they are still relatively off the beaten path (especially to those who may not be locals to the surrounding areas).
Here are 14 secret ice skating spots you can visit in Ontario:
Note: The availability of these outdoor rinks for ice skating depends entirely on cold weather conditions. Make sure to check each location's official website for the most updated information!
The Arrowhead Trail is becoming not so much of a secret anymore, but it's still a great place to go ice skating. The 1.3-km ice path will take you through the gorgeous, wintery forests of Arrowhead Provincial Park.
The Burlington Pond is a great place to ice skate if you need a change from the Rotary Centennial Pond rink in Spencer Smith Park. This pond is along North Service Road, just west of Guelph Line. There are no locker rooms or concession stands - just you, the ice, and the beautiful Ontario landscape.
Cann Lake freezes into a beautiful ice skating rink in the winter time that's perfect for leisurely skates or pond hockey. It is free to use and backdropped by the beautiful village of Huntsville.
Chippawa Park Pond
Chippawa Park Pond is a natural body of water in Welland that is typically used for ice skating when it freezes in the winter. Sometimes, the concrete walls of the pond are exposed when it freezes at a lower water level, giving it a nice, enclosed feeling.
Photo cred - johnstons_cranberries
Cranberry Marsh Trail
The Cranberry Marsh Trail is a 1.2-km ice trail that results from the freezing of a massive cranberry marsh. The trail takes skaters through 12 acres of cranberry fields and the thick of the Muskokan boreal forest.
Gage Park isn't so much a secret to most Brampton residents, but it may be to those who have never been to the town before. The ice path encircles a beautiful gazebo in the centre, and during the holidays the park is decorated with beautiful lights and installations.
Island Lake is a conservation area in Orangeville that has two great spots for ice skating. The first is a 1-km path of ice that allows skaters to skate along a trail rather than in just circles, and the second is a frozen skating pond that is cleared in a circular rink.
Lake Scugog is the site of many winter activities when it freezes over. Aside from just ice skating and pond hockey, people also like to use the frozen lake to go snowmobiling or fat-tire motorbiking.
Lift Lock 21
Lift Lock 21 is a great alternative if you can't make the trip to the Rideau Canal. When the water freezes in the winter, people are allowed to skate or play hockey by the lift lock.
The Mill Pond in Stirling is a typical site for pond hockey tournaments. On regular days, if the ice is frozen enough, visitors can also go for a leisurely skate.
Pearl Lake is a large body of water that sits beside an old mining facility called the McIntyre building. The pond is surrounded by great scenery, from green pines to snow-covered trees.
St. Clair Pond
The St. Clair Pond is a body of water by the St. Clair College in Windsor that becomes a popular local skating spot every winter. At night it becomes illuminated with different colours.
Valens Lake Trail
The Valens Lake Trail is a relatively new ice skating trail that recently opened in Hamilton. The 425-m long outdoor skating loop brings you through the thick of a forest and is in close vicinity to a campground.
*Update: The trail has since been closed due to maintenance and upkeep issues*
Wolf Lake is a natural skating rink found in the Terra Cotta Conservation Area. On days that are cold enough, the frozen lake makes for a great skating and pond hockey spot.
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