Trail of Ice

I’ve written here before about my fond memory of ice skating on the Iowa River north of town, early in the winter before it became completely snow-covered. My dad would tell of following “their” creek for miles as a kid. Once you’ve skated a distance like that, a rink no longer seems very romantic.

Enter Minnesota’s first Ice Skating Trail, in the Northwest Minneapolis suburb of Maple Grove. From the December 2017 AAA Living magazine: “Lampposts offer a warm glow, and the surrounding trees’ white twinkle-lights brighten both trail and mood.” I imagine skating there at dusk, as the sun goes down.

One of only a few in North America (see also Chicago and Toronto), it’s an 810-foot loop that feels “more like a stroll in the park” than the laps you skate at a traditional ice rink, according to Minneapolis Northwest, a regional newsletter(For reference, a regular hockey rink has a 570’ lap.)

You can skate earlier in the season (and later) than most outdoor rinks, as the trail is refrigerated and maintained by a Zamboni. There is skate rental (and concessions like hot chocolate and popcorn) during Central Park’s warming pavilion open hours, but park benches are available anytime for putting on your own skates.

I would have loved to have this nearby when I was still skating.

What will get you out of doors this winter? 

Would you like to try driving a Zamboni, or some other heavy machinery?



46 thoughts on “Trail of Ice”

  1. I HAD to get out once it started really snowing on Monday. We have had do little real snowfall this winter. I have no idea where my enthusiasm for snow coming down comes from, but I’ve always found it exciting and want to get out in it (and yes, I have had some not so nice experiences with it, but nothing catastrophic).

    I can well imagine a rink would be tame after skating down a river. Saturday I travel to Mankato to see the s&h run a 5K on an indoor track. I expect it will be a bit tedious after cross country (which usually involves some quality outdoor time). Hopefully there will be a place to sit and knit.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I am getting out twice a day this week because husband is on the Reservation with our only working vehicle, so I have to walk to and from work. It is only 5 blocks one way. The body work on the van will take two weeks, so I will be on foot next week, too. I hipe it doesn’t get too cold next week.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is beautiful Bill, and so appropriate for today. I love Madeleine Peyroux. My sister and I saw her in concert with Ricki Lee Jones last year. FYI, Madeleine was superb, Ricki Lee was either having a bad day or is way past her prime.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In answer to the second question, it has never occurred to me to drive a Zamboni, but now you’ve put the idea into my head…

    Admittedly, I would want to have lots of completely clear space to do it in.

    I will also admit to enjoying being in a car with a guy spinning donuts on an empty school parking lot.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. That looks absolutely lovely! I remember in high school ice skating on a small lake that was completely frozen over with no snow on it, so it was clear, flat and level all across. That feeling of complete freedom and solitude skating outside on the lake was amazing — one of those peak moments of my youth. I’m not sure I could skate now — bad ankles and knees and all. But that course might be worth doing. Very cool.
    And driving a Zamboni — well, that’s an added bonus!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I cherish memories of skating on a creek. Our last home in Ames was on a hill that overlooked a city park that had a brook (Squaw Creek) running through it. We would walk down the hill to the edge of the frozen creek, swapping boots for ice skates. After slipping on a little day pack holding lunch makings, we’d take off skating up the creek.

    We would skate until we reached the northern edge of the known universe. It wasn’t so very far, perhaps two or three miles up the creek. Then the pack would come off. We’d build a little fire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows. I remember heating up Lipton’s chicken noodle soup once. Then we’d zoom back home.

    Once you’ve skated a creek you won’t want to settle for a rink again, for the view on a frozen creek is forever changing. And though these memories are precious now, I’ll bet we didn’t do this more than two or three times. But it was enough to make great memories.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’ve never fantasized about driving a Zamboni but will admit to watching it almost hypnotically when I was younger. I used to go to hockey games with a friend of mine whose brother was captain of the high school team and I did enjoy the halftime when the Zamboni came out and went around and around and around.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. there are business models around people driving big stuff

    catapillars and steam shovels and bull dozers

    tanks and stuff

    i am intrigued by it and usually find after two minutes the thrill is gone

    give me a lamborghini and some alps to fly up and down

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I work construction my dad was in construction my grandfather was in construction and from the time I was five years old I was allowed to drive road graders and Catapillar’s

        As I’ve gone through like people hand me the wheel on their big boats and airplanes and things like that knowing that I am pretty comfortable and adapt quickly and listen to instructions well enough to keep us all from dying so yeah I’ve done a bunch of that

        Liked by 1 person

      2. OT – BiR, did you try to call me? I answered a call from Winona and there was no one there. I even waited for a robo voice to kick in, but nothing. I think you are the only person I know in Winona so thought I’d check to be sure it wasn’t a phone glitch and you were there hearing everything I said. OC


  8. i am second team dog walking crew
    if my wife and son ( their together time) don’t go i do
    i have recently taken to walking them with no leashes and getting them to come when called and resist chasing rabbits just to make it interesting for all concerned
    the first time i unleashed them was in the park and as soon as i did a coyote appeared across the lake and they took off after it across ice i was less than comfortable with them crossing

    kind of like skating in the woods but without the enjoyment that particular event

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I’ve wanted to drive a Zamboni since the first time I saw one, probably at a MN North Stars game back in the ’60s.

    Got lucky one winter in the Cities also back in the ’60s when we had a cold, snowless December and the City Lakes froze clear. Skated all the way from Cedar to Calhoun and back. We kids, who up till then had only skated the small local rink or our backyard rink that was on top of the garden (about 20′ x20′), thought we’d died and gone to skate heaven.

    I still skate on the Straight River here in town when it’s open. A very long narrow rink, probably 200 yds x 50 yds, but tends to be rutted or cracked in many places, so it requires caution on most days. I also ski when conditions permit–blessing the 17 inches we got on Monday. Perfect skiing yesterday and today and should still be good tomorrow early before the sun gets high enough to melt the track and glaze it over.

    If you can’t beat winter here, my advice is to join it, embrace it, spit in its eye. 🙂

    Chris in Owatonna


  10. it’s amazing to me every year at this point in the winter where 30 feels really warm

    the books on antarctic expodition talk about winters of -30 to -50 and when it would warm up to zero they would go play soccer with no shirts in

    cross country ski ideal temp is -10 for me

    an hour outside every day is really a good idea jus cause…my dogs now ask to go out just to stand and enjoy the day now that their blood has thickened
    me too…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Outside twice a day every day to feed the animals in the barns & coop…and new snowshoes. But we really really need more snow. While you southerners were getting multi-inches we barely got a dusting.


  12. No desire to drive a zamboni here.

    What gets me outside this winter? Well, most recently it was the big snowfall here. It was so pretty and it was not too cold, so out I went (with camera). Kind of hard trudging through the unshoveled parts of the sidewalk, but once I got to the Greenway, it was easy because the city keeps that plowed very cleanly (unlike the city streets). I must admit I haven’t been out much this season. First I was recovering from surgery, then I gradually worked up to a 2-mile walk, then I got a bad cold – between that and the very cold weather we had for a while, I couldn’t get myself to get up and go outside. Now I’m working back into it. Just walking is good enough for me. I would like to walk some creek or river on the North Shore in the wintertime, but I’m not up there, so I will do what I can here to get out and try to find little spots of beauty here and there.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Zamboni’s would definitely be fun. At least for a while.

    The days when it is ‘wicked cold’ I don’t miss being outside. These nicer winter days I really do miss being outside.
    Often I just have to walk out on the loading dock at least for a couple minutes.
    I use the 4-wheeler to take the dogs for runs when it’s above about 25 degrees. Last weekend after the dogs run I spent an extra 10 minutes zipping around the yard doing donuts and fishtails. (Then I got the four wheeler! Ba dum bum!)
    There is something thrilling about that.

    I have my chicken chores every day. They don’t take too long. Just depends what else I do while I’m out there. Of course weekends I have more time.
    I really need to be outside. But I don’t envy the carpenters and construction guys that work outside all day long. I could never do that. Even farming more, it was sort of in and out. And tractors with cabs. And warm barns.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m past my days of ice skating, skiing – both x-country and downhill, and I never was much of a snow-shoer. Gone, too, are the days when it was fun digging through the snow, often late at night, looking for the Winter Carnival medallion. I have too many achy or infirm body parts for any of that to be enjoyable anymore.

    Driving a Zamboni might be fun for a few minutes, but it’s not something I’d go out of my way to do. A small riding lawn mower would pretty much satisfy my thrill seeking.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve never seen a Zamboni, but I imagine driving one on ice must be rather slow and restful. The few times I had to drive a large rental truck in traffic were nightmarish and not experiences I’d eagerly repeat.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. OT – a friend of mine posted this to FB today. I LOVE my FB friends.

    An English doctor was shown around a Scottish hospital. At the end of his visit, he is taken into a ward with a number of patients who show no obvious signs of injury. Curious, the English doctor goes to examine the first man he sees, and the man proclaims:

    “Fair fa’ yer sonsie face,
    Great chieftain e’ the puddin’ race!
    Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
    Painch tripe or thairm:
    Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
    As lang’s my arm.”

    The Englishman, somewhat taken aback, goes to the next patient, who immediately launches into:

    “Some hae meat, and canna eat,
    and some wad eat that want it,
    But we hae meat and we can eat,
    And sae the Lord be thankit.”

    And suddenly the next patient sits up and declaims.

    “Wee sleekit cow’rin tim’rous beastie,
    O what a panic’s in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
    wi’ bickering brattle
    I wad be laith to run and chase thee,
    wi’ murdering prattle!”

    “Well,” said the English doctor to his Scottish colleague, “I see you saved the psychiatric ward for the last.”

    “Nay, nay,” the Scottish doctor corrected him, “This is the Serious Burns Unit.”

    Liked by 5 people

  17. I haven’t been out cross country skiing yet this winter, but now that we have some actual snow, I might get to it. I am a little fatigued from the shoveling at the moment, though.

    I’d take shot at the Zamboni if someone gave me the keys. Why not?


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