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'Winter wonderland' forest skate opens at Mactaquac park

The 900-metre trail opened on Saturday to the public. (Lars Schwarz/CBC - image credit)
The 900-metre trail opened on Saturday to the public. (Lars Schwarz/CBC - image credit)

Ice-covered trails might not be ideal for some parks, but for Mactaquac Provincial Park in Fredericton, the icy forest was a long time coming.

The forest skate, complete with twinkling lights for a nighttime experience, had its opening on Saturday.

The skate was almost ready to go last year. But the surface wasn't good enough, so it was held off another year, said park manager Kevin McWhirter.

The idea started when post-tropical storm Arthur hit in 2014, causing a lot of damage to a part of the park, said McWhirter.

The previous park manager decided to turn it into forest skate, and McWhirter inherited the project.

He said a lot that went into getting the trail ready for Saturday's opening event.

"It's a very dedicated crew of people here at the provincial park," said McWhirter. "These guys were working last night till midnight, they were in here at 4 a.m."

He said they had to design tanker units to spread water on the trail. Then they purchased an ice resurfacer that's pulled by a three-point hitch to smooth out the trail.

WATCH | Take a skate along this icy forest: 

Saturday's opening was complete with fiddlers, chili and craft beer.

McWhirter said the support for the trail was overwhelming. His phone started dinging at 6 a.m. on Saturday with people excited for the trail's opening.

Lars Schwarz/CBC
Lars Schwarz/CBC

Amelia Beaney, one of the skaters who showed up to the trail, called the trail "magical" and compared it to a "winter wonderland."

She did the trail multiple times on Saturday and said it was amazing.

"There's lights and heat and benches for resting, as well as a good skating rink," said Beaney. "It's large enough that you can get a good skate going and short enough that you're not exhausted."

Lars Schwarz/CBC
Lars Schwarz/CBC

McWhirter said the 900-metre trail is more than two metres wide in some places.

"It's just lovely," said McWhirter. "When I did it, [I] was breathless."