Echo Valley Provincial Park’s skating trails have returned for a second year.

Due to the popularity of the 700-meter skating loop last season, the park decided to double the ice surface.

“We were one loop last year, but it was so popular that we had plans to expand as soon as we were done so we’ve added another loop of the campground,” Tanya Lawson, the Park Manager, said.

This year, there is almost two kilometres worth of skating trails, which are located in the Aspen campground. They opened on New Years Day and the provincial park anticipates big crowds.

“We’ve put out a few notices that when it gets busy we do have a capacity out here and once we reach the capacity that you may have to wait in line to get in but it’s not been too terribly long a wait,” Lawson added.

The trails were built on top of the roads that lead to each campground site.

Last year, there was one communal fire pit. Due to government protocols surrounding the pandemic, the park is encouraging skaters to use one of the dozens of fire pits in the area with the group they arrive with.

Wood is provided for fires, but food services aren’t provided at the moment.

“We are anticipating having a food truck in the near future, that’s still being worked on and we will be notifying via Facebook when that happens,” Lawson said.

All levels of skaters are welcome. It’s built for skates, but park-goers are invited to walk the trails or take a cruise while lugging a toboggan. Pets are welcome on leash.

“We’ve had people of all skill levels out. If you have little ones that want to skate but you don’t you’re welcome to just walk around it,” Lawson said.

Skate rentals aren’t available, however, Echo Valley will be renting snowshoes for the numerous trails in the region. Cross country skiing is also encouraged.

“The park this year did start renting snowshoes, so if that’s something that you’re interested in and don’t have your own then you can come to the visitors centre and we do rent those,” Lawson said.

The skating trails are open Wednesday through Sunday. On opening weekend, the park experienced up to one hour waits in the afternoon. The provincial park recommends coming in the morning on the weekend or during the week.