As we eagerly anticipate the opening of the Rideau Canal for its 47th season, there’s a new skating option in the National Capital Region. Hop in a car and drive across into Quebec, heading north past Gatineau Park for about an hour until you come to Lac-des-Loups. There, Dave Mayer has transformed a piece of the forest into a winter wonderland skating trail.
Skating through the forest is nothing short of magical. The trail is approximately three meters wide, with snow covered trees lining the entire 3km trail. My friend and I took advantage of the early morning quiet to enjoy our skate but even later in the day as it got busier, you could still hear the sounds of nature. If you’re looking for a break, benches are strategically placed around the trail near bird feeders so you can sit and enjoy the local fauna.
Before heading out, you can check ice conditions on their Facebook page, . When we went last weekend, the ice was in perfect condition. As explained to us by one of the employees skating the trail and checking in on visitors, an old fire truck is used to water down the track each night before it gets a smooth finish with a Zamboni. While mostly flat, there’s a bit of change in the elevation of the trail. Easy enough for beginner skaters to handle, but fun enough for those more experienced to enjoy as well.
Since the trail opened at the end of December, visitors have flooded to the site. If you can, make it there for opening and get in a few laps before it gets busy.
The skating trail is open daily from 10am to 4pm. There’s a heated changing room where you can leave your boots. While there is an ATM on site, I’d recommend you bring cash to pay your admission ($12 for adults, $8 for children) and grab snacks or a hot drink onsite. They’re located at 9 Montée Beausoleil, Lac-des-Loups, Quebec, and are absolutely worth the drive.