Spending time outdoors can seem counterintuitive during the cold months, but there are activities that are only available at this time of the year — why not give them a try? Here are some recommendations for cost-effective activities to get you outside this winter.
Cross-country skiing is not only great exercise but also an excellent way to see parts of the city you may miss out on during the winter. In order to get started, you’ll need to get some equipment. If you are new to these activities, you probably don’t want to invest in equipment right away — you are in the market for rentals.
Eb’s Source for Adventure is a local outdoor-sports store that is recognized for its helpful staff and its place in the community — it claims to be a place where “people meet to talk trails and conditions, waxes or hull shapes.” You can rent cross-country skis and snowshoes at Eb’s for $15 each per day. The service is available whenever there is good snow coverage.
Next up is finding a trail to hit. There are a variety of trails in the city to choose from, such as the Kinsmen Park trails and the Wildwood trails, for example, as well as some options within driving distance — like Eb’s Trails and Blackstrap.
Whether you choose to stay in the city or not, you should look for well-kept trails. The website saskatoonnordicski.ca is useful for this purpose — in it, you can find a list of some nearby trails with frequent updates about their grooming status and whether or not they have new snow.
Another option for winter fun is going sledding. Plastic sleds can be pretty cheap — you can buy one for the season and start looking for hills. Similar to the ski trails, you can easily find hill recommendations catered to your specific needs online.
For starters, you should hit up Diefenbaker Park and Victoria Park if you want to stay in the city. Harold Tatler Park is also a good option — especially if you are sledding with children — as it has plenty of manageable hills. The Blackstrap hill is about 30 to 40 minutes outside the city, but you can make the trip worth the ride by also checking out the Blackstrap Provincial Park — which offers a variety of outdoor activities including off-season camping.
Something exciting to look forward to is Optimism Hill a new winter-recreation park in Diefenbaker Park. The site will allow for tubing, tobogganing, downhill skiing and snowboarding — a one-stop shop for all your winter-activity needs. Optimism Hill is slated to open this January.
For those looking for an option that doesn’t require venturing out into the elements for long periods of time, ice skating might be for you. A major part of Canadian culture, skating can get you in on the winter fun with options for both indoor and outdoor rinks in Saskatoon.
For a small fee, the newly opened Merlis Belsher Place offers drop-in skating, shinny, and stick-and-puck times. This is a year-round exercise opportunity, but you can ride your winter inspiration into trying it out if you haven’t already. The Physical Activity Complex will rent out skates for free with your student ID, and both the Rink in the Bowl and Merlis Belsher are conveniently close by on foot, making this the perfect simple and low-cost option to get you into winter exercise.
When you are ready to take your skating outdoors, check out the City of Saskatoon website to find an interactive map of the city’s many skating rinks. The map not only outlines the locations of the city’s many public ice surfaces but also includes details on the amenities they hosts as well as rules on things like hockey sticks and pucks.
To combine two outdoor activities into one longer outing, walk along the Meewasin Trail and follow it downtown to the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink at Nutrien Plaza. The rink usually opens in late December, depending on the weather, and while donations are appreciated, they welcome skaters free of charge, including equipment rentals.
Though it may be tempting to stay inside and away from the cold until spring rolls around, we live in a city of long and strong winters — shouldn’t we make the most of it? Saskatoon is well equipped with outdoor-sports opportunities if you take the time to explore the city. Give it a try, and see if you can make some of these activities part of your health routine this term.
Ana Cristina Camacho / Staff Writer
Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor