It’s easy to get out for a jog or a round of golf in the warmer months, but enjoying an active lifestyle is proven more difficult during the winter. To help people stay active, Perth Outfitters has created a 400-metre skate trail through the forest.
Perth Outfitters, located at 21 Craig Street in Perth, is an outdoor recreation facility that encourages a healthy lifestyle through fun and relaxing activities. Started by Jeanie Brummitt and Ian Pearson in 2012, the facility is located on their seven-acre waterfront property.
“Until you come smell the place, it’s hard to articulate,” Pearson says. “We’re very welcoming, laid back, relaxing. It’s a happy place. A home away from home.”
Perth Outfitters offers kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, mini-golfing and more during the summer months, but the skate trail is a brand new addition this winter.
“We’re trying to create an outdoor activity centre for all seasons,” Pearson says.
The skate trail meanders through the forest, winds along the shoreline of the Tay Canal and loops back to an insulated log cabin where skaters can warm up near the wood stove, sip hot chocolate and munch on warmed Timbits.
Visitors can also play hockey on the outdoor rink and try snowshoeing. Tiki torches light the skate trail on Friday and Saturday nights creating a romantic atmosphere and truly Canadian experience, Pearson says.
Unfortunately, the opening of the skate trail has been hindered by another truly Canadian experience — fluctuating temperatures.
“We knew when we started this that we’d be a the mercy of Mother Nature. The weather isn’t consistent and it’s not predictable,” Pearson said.
Brummitt and Pearson hoped the trail would be open by mid-January but thaw has caused a delay with temperatures sometimes sitting just above freezing.
“We have people coming down the driveway asking if they can skate,” Pearson laughed. More than 36,000 people viewed Perth Outfitters’ skate trail video on Facebook. “There’s a huge interest. It’s very cool.”
Skate trails became popular about five years ago in the Muskoka area and after seeing it in the media, Pearson and Brummitt decided their property had great potential for one too.
“We love the natural environment and we’ve been blessed with a property of substantial size – and we want to share it,” Pearson says. “The Tay River is too unsafe to skate on so this is a good alternative that is equally as picturesque and fun.”
Pearson used all the snow that fell this season to create the outdoor fun zone. “I’ve probably spent hundreds of hours out there so far ploughing and flooding, and then ploughing and flooding again,” he laughed. “Many nights I’m out there past midnight.”
Pearson, who says he shudders at the thought of a suit-and-tie life, doesn’t mind the cold. “I love to be outside. I need to be outside. Sometimes it’s still and silent and sometimes it’s windy. That’s life. That’s incredible,” he says.
The inclusive environment welcomes everyone, Pearson says. “We’re probably the youngest people in their late-50s that you’ll ever meet,” he laughed.
With tons of parking, visitors are invited en masse to enjoy the landscape.
“It’s a pleasure for us to help [people] do what they came to do,” Pearson says. “It’s startling how transformative being in the natural environment can be for people. It’s liberating. The connectedness with nature seems to build confidence,” Pearson says.
Perth Outfitters is accepting skate donations for people who want to try the trail but don’t have skates.
Children and seniors can visit the skate trail for $8, adults for $12 and families – two children, two adults – can visit for $35.
Depending on the weather, the skate trail will be open 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 1 p.m. until dark on Sundays. Operating hours for Family Day, March break and school PD days are to be announced. Visit perthoutfitters.com to check when the skate trail is open.