Winnipeggers who love the outdoors don't
have to go far to enjoy some winter fun:
the city's two rivers provide several kilometres
of groomed trails right downtown for anyone
willing to brave the weather.
CBC's Wendy Sawatzky
headed down to check out the trails, then
talked to Justin Dyck, supervisor of operations
at The Forks, about what's up on the ice
and what's underneath.
When is it open?
The trail is usually open between mid-January and mid-February, as long as ice conditions permit. Contact The Forks or the Winnipeg Police River Patrol for the latest ice conditions.
What is there
A warming shelter at the Hugo Street
Dock entrance to the trail
There are two paths
on the river: an ice path, which is cleared
and groomed for skating, and a footpath.
The footpath is also
open to skiers, snowshoers and cyclists.
Leashed dogs are allowed. Snowmobiles and
other motorized equipment is not permitted.
Warming shacks are
provided at several points along the trail.
A snow maze and curling rink are also available
on the river near The Forks.
such as sleigh rides, face painting, and
winter games, is offered from noon to 4
p.m. on weekends. Most programming is free
The river trail connects
with the skating trails and footpaths "on
shore" at The Forks; many more indoor
and outdoor activities are also available
around the Forks historical site.
How thick is the
An ice-grooming machine clears the
ice for skaters on the Assiniboine
When the ice reaches
25 centimetres (10 inches) thick, the city's
harbourmaster gives the Forks approval to
put equipment weighing almost 3,000 kilograms
(6,500 lbs) onto the ice.
is allowed as the weather gets colder and
the ice gets even thicker.
When the ice is at its thickest, the Forks sends very heavy equipment - such as tractors, water tanks, trucks, and ice-clearing Zambonis - onto the river, sometimes several times per day.
What if the weather
A single day or series
of days with temperatures slightly above
zero will not affect the stability of the
weather warms up
in the spring, the harbourmaster begins
checking the ice daily.
Why are there
"thin ice" signs near the trail?
Thin ice sign near a sewer outflow
Thin ice signs are
posted in many areas around the city where
the ice may be dangerous to walk on.
Near the river trail,
they are posted near areas where sewer outlets
empty into the river. While the ice may
be hazardous in those areas, the stability
of the trail itself is not affected.
I stepped off
the trail and my feet got wet!
Heavy snow conditions on the river can put pressure on the ice, says Dyck.
As a result, some
water and slush rests on top of the ice,
but under the snow.
Slushy footprints near the path
While the slush or water might fill your
boots with water, Dyck says there is no
need to worry about plunging through the
ice if you step off the trail.
However, to avoid
wet feet, he suggests staying on the cleared
paths and trails, or sticking to areas already
tramped down by other people.
Last Updated: February 1, 2005
Text and photos by CBC online journalist
Telephone: (204) 788-3646