As published in Parks Blogger Ontario, March 2015
By Jennifer Schleich
The stillness of winter infuses MacGregor Point Provincial Park in the off-season. The doors are shuttered at the permit office and the visitor’s centre, the firewood cages are empty and untouched snow stretches as far as the eye can see.
It’s a bit of an illusion though. The bustle of tourist season may be a distant memory but despite the frigid air there is still something exciting happening. Each year, cold temperatures permitting, the park plays host to a unique feature, which draws in locals and day trippers: a 400-metre skating trail loop through the park’s forest. But that’s not all. Bonfires are welcome, with campfire pits stationed at the skating loop and nearby at an adjacent hockey rink, as well as bird feeding station.
The winding trail is situated in the park’s Algonquin campground, next to the cross-country ski Deer Run Trail entrance. The loop is surprisingly smooth for an outdoor ice surface and though there is the ever present light crackling of ice under blade, there are no rough patches to catch skates and falls were few and far between.
The elevation of the trail follows the natural slope of the area, racing skaters downwards for three quarters of the distance and then forcing a slight uphill climb for the remaining stretch. It’s an easy skate for even the smallest children…