A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rideau Canal is nicknamed the world’s largest ice skating rink. It runs from Dow’s Lake to downtown Ottawa, and this is its 47th year in operation. It usually opens in January or February, once the canal freezes over and the ice is 30 centimeters (one foot) thick. The Rideau Canal trail is 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles) long and actually becomes a busy thoroughfare for commuters, as it connects a lot of the city. It hosts the Winterlude festival for three weekends in February as well.
Rideau Canal, Ottowa, ON, Canada, +1 613 283 5170
The staff at the Hamilton Conservation Authority actually created this 425-metre (1,394-foot) new skating trail in Ontario out of a campground road. It takes skaters on a journey through a cedar, spruce and pine forest at the Valens Lake Conservation Area campground. Previously, Hamilton residents had to drive three hours to Huntsville to enjoy Arrowhead’s ice skating trail.
Lake Windermere is in the Columbia River Valley in southeastern British Columbia. Every winter, residents groom a massive 34-kilometer (21-mile) trail around the lake, which is then divided into three sections. The areas are for skating, skate-skiing and cross-country skiing. The long track actually connects the two small towns of Invermere and Windermere as well. It’s a beautiful spot surrounded by mountains.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of time to enjoy this skating trail, as there are less than six hours of daylight in Whitehorse in January. Shipyards Park is a public park located along the banks of the Yukon River, which in the summertime is home to a rollerblading and bicycle trail. It’s then converted into a skating loop in winter, with warming huts and fire pits on-site.
Located less than an hour’s drive north-west of Ottawa on the edge of the Gatineau Park, Lac des Loups skating trail is the new kid on the block. The three-kilometre (1.9-mile) trail goes through the forest in the heart of the picturesque village of Lac des Loups. In its first week of opening in 2017, 8,000 people skated the trail. There is a large heated changing shack on site offering snacks, hot and cold drinks, soup, chilli, hotdogs as well as a boutique featuring local arts and crafts. In addition to skating they offer groomed walking and snowshoe trails. There’s an admission fee, and it’s open every day of the week, as long as the weather cooperates. Narcity thinks it’s like “you’re in a romcom.”
9 Montée Beausoleil, Lac des Loups, Quebec, Canada: +1 819 456 3283
Joliette is a small town located 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Montreal. Its main river, the Assomption, is the longest river skating trail in North America at nine kilometers long (5.6 miles). It has been used as a skateway for over 30 years and hosts the Festi-Glace every February. Skaters must bring their own skates as there are no rental services. There’s also a walking trail beside the river for spectators.