Grab your friends and head on out to Arrowhead Provincial Park for a day of winter fun!
With 30 kilometres of gorgeously groomed trails, Arrowhead is a cross-country skier’s playground. Whether you enjoy classic or skate skiing, are a novice or expert, you will find a trail to suit your style. No pets or snowshoes are allowed on the ski trails, so you can be assured of a clean track to ski. We warmed up at the start of the day and cooled down at the end with a quick ski around the three-kilometre Hardwood Hills trail. We spent most of our time exploring the five-kilometre Arrowhead Lake trail, stopping at a heated portable near the trailhead to refuel and rehydrate. Ski, pole, and boot rentals are available at the main gate for $20.35 for the day. A ski pass is required to ski the trails. It costs $11.50 for an adult for the day and covers parking.
Lace up your skates and glide for 1.3 kilometres beneath snow-laden trees. A Zamboni grooms this ice trail that during warmer months serves as the road between campsites. In winter though couples skate hand in hand. Parents pull small children in sleds. Aspiring hockey players, speed skaters, and figure skaters practice their footwork. If skating through the forest weren’t exciting enough, the park also hosts “Fire and Ice” on Saturday evenings in December, January, and February. Skate until 9PM lit by 100 tiki torches. There are plenty of cubbies to store boots and lunches and picnic tables around fire pits to rest and warm up. Skates are also available to rent at the main gate for $6 for three hours or get your skates sharpened for $5. If you have your own skates and an Ontario Park’s pass, you can head right in and spend the day skating.
Who doesn’t love a good downhill run on an inner tube? After skiing and skating our day away, we decided to take one run down the hill before we headed back to Toronto. We joined the back of the line and chatted with the eight-year-old boys ahead of us about how many times they had already been down the hill (they were already into the double digits!). The boys were experts in patience, waiting for the perfect combination of tubes to come back up the hill. They let us go ahead of them when they didn’t see what they wanted. We laughed all the way down, trying to take pictures while we were in motion. Hay strewn across the snow at the bottom slowed our speed so that we could hop off and start the trek back up the hill, dragging our tubes with us. Parents, be forewarned: this area is unsupervised so keep an eye on your little ones.
There are 6.5 kilometres of trails designated for snowshoeing and your four-legged friends are more than welcome to join you. Follow the Hemlock Ridge Trail (intermediate trail due to topography) or the Stubb’s Falls Snowshoe Trail (easy trail) back to Stubb’s Falls or spend some time meandering around Mayflower Lake (easy trail). High-tech snowshoe rentals are available at the main gate for $10 for a half day.
There are five camp cabins with electric fireplaces and a winterized comfort station within the park. Visitors must bring their own bedding, flatware, utensils, and other personal items; however there is a gas barbecue to cook on and a picnic table outdoors or a table and chairs indoors to eat at. Alternatively, there are two yurts you can reserve. Check the Ontario Parks website (below) for current fees.
Arrowhead Provincial Park provides hours – days, if you so choose – of winter fun. Come early on a weekend as the park is extremely popular now and parking is at a premium. While the park is winding down now to get ready for its 2015-2016 operating season, plan to spend time there next winter.
Just the Facts:
Address: 451 Arrowhead Park Road, Huntsville, ON P1H 2J4
Arrowhead is about two hours north of Toronto, one exit north of Huntsville and the Highway 60 corridor into Algonquin Park. Its winter operations run from mid-December until the end of March.
Telephone: (705) 789-5105
Written for Parks Blogger Ontario.