River skating trail extension to open soon at The Forks

The Forks river trail is set to get longer, but first the weather needs to get colder.

Warming huts will soon be added to skating trail along Red River

Skaters will soon have a lot more trail to try out along the Red River in Winnipeg. (CBC)

The Forks river trail is set to get longer, but first the weather needs to get colder.

Mild temperatures this week have been hampering the opening of the second leg of the Red River Mutual Trail along the Red River.

"It could be open in a matter of a few hours if we just get the temperatures going. We just have to put down the skating surface," said Paul Jordan, CEO of The Forks North Portage Partnership.

The trail is currently open for one kilometre from The Forks harbour to the Norwood Bridge. The extension will take it an additional two kilometres south to near the boat docks adjacent to Churchill Drive.

The trail has been shovelled clear, but it needs to be flooded and smoothed out.

"We have got everything in place, we just can't make any ice because of the [warm] temperatures," Jordan said.

"So it's going to be one of those things we are going to know when we know. But it's imminent."

In the meantime, skaters can also use two big rinks at The Forks harbour and the circular surface under the canopy near the marketplace building. As well, there is a one kilometre on-land skating trail that winds through The Forks site.

Jordan said about 50,000 people came out last weekend to skate the trails.

A one kilometre on-land skating trail winds through The Forks site, including over the old railway bridge. (CBC)

Warming huts

The annual collection of warming huts, chosen from entries to The Forks international art and architecture competition, will soon line the skating trail.

"We have a diverse group of warming hut winners, with huts being built out of everything from snow to rebar to frozen fabric to steel," Jordan said. "The huts are a testament of the diversity of the art and architecture community worldwide, and it is great to see this competition bring that design here to Winnipeg."

Construction will be completed by the end of this week, and the huts will be placed on the ice shortly after, a news release from The Forks states.

The newest designs will join 12 huts from previous years, including Woolhaus, Hygge House, Smokehouse, Skybox, Fir Hut, Apparition, Under the Covers, Wind Catcher, Red Blanket, Carcass, Windshield, Recycling Words and The Hole Idea.

"Each hut is a true fusion of art and architecture that represents so much more than just a space to get out of the prairie wind," said Dave Lalama, president of the Manitoba Association of Architects.

"We congratulate all winners for pushing the envelope of creativity."

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