Skating the Riverbend Trail in Warroad, Minnesota

When the air gets cold and the snow starts to fly, I get excited for ice skating. And while I’m very lucky to have many good ice skating rinks around the cities to use all winter long, this past winter I made a pilgrimage to the longest ice skating trail of them all: the Riverbend Skate Path.

In the winter of 2020, a few neighbors connected their backyard ice skating rinks located on the Warroad River in Warroad, Minnesota. Eventually the trail grew to be 2.5 miles long, providing a safe and fun way for community members to connect during the pandemic. Hundreds of skaters used the trail to skate, sled, curl, play broomball or practice hockey. 

After a successful first year, the organizers extended the trail to 5.2 miles long. And now that my skating buddy and I were vaccinated and COVID free, we could make the long trek north to skate as much of the trail as we could.

Woman adjusting her skates on wooden bench in front of wooden gazebo with holiday decorations
A quick rest spot along the trail, perfect for adjusting our skates

Landing at the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company on Friday afternoon, we hit the ice with our backpacks full of snacks (and boots, just in case). The trail meandered through town, with lights and decorations along the way, a few places to stop for a rest and several hockey rinks. The ice was bumpy in spots as expected, but we were able to make it all the way to the end, having fallen only a few times.

woman in yellow coat skating along a curved trail in between snow banks and river reeds
Skating along the Riverbend Trail, in between snowbanks and river reeds

Despite bruised knees and wobbly legs, we spent over two hours on the ice and skated 8.2 miles. We were surprised at how quickly the trail left backyards and extended to more natural spots. It was delightful to skate along the river reeds you would normally see from the river bank and to enjoy the quiet sounds of our skates cruising along the ice. The ice was crystal clear in spots, with beautiful natural cracks and fissures you could see several feet down. It was a fantastic experience that left us both feeling accomplished and delighted.

Woman in winter clothes skating along ice trail, concession stand and river reeds in background.
My skating buddy at the start of the trail

Sometimes it’s hard to learn new skills as an adult, especially when falling can be a bit more painful. But learning to skate as an adult has given me a reason to look forward to winter, as well as challenge myself to try things that aren’t always easy. And, it’s even better when the challenge gives you the opportunity to try new adventures in new places!

Find more information: Riverbend Skate Path from the Warroad Community Partners. Photo at top of story courtesy of Weston MacKinnon on Unsplash

Christy Marsden

About Christy Marsden

Christy Marsden lives in Minneapolis, where she tries to bike, bus, or walk wherever she can. Christy works in horticulture, teaching others how to grow and enjoy plants. As the 2023 Streets.MN co-chair, she is looking forward to making sure Streets.MN can continue to be a place to share people-forward stories about the places we live in.