All You Need to Know About the Red River Mutual Trail in Winnipeg

All You Need to Know About the Red River Mutual Trail in Winnipeg

One of the most exciting things I look forward to in the wintertime as a Winnipegger is the opening of winter events and activities. One such thing is skiing along the Red River Mutual Trail.

It’s a frozen wonderland stretching along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, where you can gear up, lace up your skates, and glide for kilometers right through the heart of the city. That’s right: kilometers!

Now, of course, it’s not just about skating, though that’s a big part of it. The trail has all sorts of stuff going on; you’ve got ice skating rinks, hockey games, and even curling lanes set up on the ice.

Plus, it’s got these cool little warming huts scattered along the way, so you can take a break, get a little toasty, and maybe even grab a hot chocolate or a snack.

And let me tell you, the vibe of the Winnipeg winter is something else. Everyone comes out to enjoy the weather, have some fun, and just take in the beauty of the city in the cold season.

If you plan to experience the wintry wonders of the Red River Mutual Trail, here’s all you need to know!

Best Time to Visit the Red River Mutual Trail

The winter season is the only time you can enjoy the trail in all its glory as the main activities there are open during that period only.

Expect a temperature range of -15°C to -8°C in December and -9°C to 1°C in the last weeks of winter, around March.

The majority of the skating trails are closed when it’s not the height of winter, so it’s really advantageous to time your visit around late December and early March. I usually skate here around late January.

Of course, you can still visit the area just before or right after the winter season. Sometimes, there’ll be walking and cross-country ski trails that might be open, but it’s still weather-dependent. It’s best to do your research before your trip.

There are no exact dates on when the trail opens and closes for the season, so keep an eye out on the website for updates!

How to Get to the Red River Mutual Trail

1. By Car

Pin your GPS/navigator to the Forks Market in downtown Winnipeg. The trail starts around this area.

2. By Public Transport (from the airport)

Outside the main terminal building, you can take the Route 15 Winnipeg Transit bus This route goes to the downtown area where the Forks is located.

Things to Know about the Red River Mutual Trail

Website (General information) (Skating conditions, closures)

LocationRiver Walk, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Access feeFree! (unless you want to rent skates or equipment)

The Red River Mutual Trail is famous for being one of the longest naturally frozen skating trails on the planet. Once winter comes, parts of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers are frozen solid and eventually become a trail.

The trail stretches for several kilometers, starting from The Forks and winding its way through downtown Winnipeg.

The length of the trail actually depends on Mother Nature.

At one point, it was a record-breaking 8.5 kilometers and even made the Guinness Book of World Records. There was also a time when it was just 3 kilometers. In 2018, it was a whopping 10 kilometers, the longest so far.

“Red River Mutual Trail” is an old name but it’s the one that’s most recognized. It was also called the Centennial River Trail in the past.

Currently, it’s named Nestaweya River Trail, after the original Cree name used for the site of The Forks and the surrounding area that we now know as Winnipeg.

What to Do in the Red River Mutual Trail

If you didn’t know, access to the trail is actually free. You could just take a simple, leisurely walk if you wanted to!

Come to think of it, if you’re on a budget, this is one of the best Winnipeg attractions that might just complete your itinerary!

However, Winnipeggers (myself included!) love to make a huge deal about this time of year. We’ve created just about all possibilities to make the wintertime even more magical.

Here are some of the many things you can do on the trail:

1. Skate

Skate providerIceland Skate Rentals
LocationThe Forks Market Tower Atrium (next to The Mini-Donut Factory)
Contact+1 204-257-0288 / +1 204-955-8814
RatesChildren and Seniors - $4

Adults - $7

Skate sharpening - $6

Skating is the main activity that the trail is known for, mainly because of its length which is ideal for continuous gliding.

2. Join the Curling Event 

Contact+1 204-831-8816

The Ironman Outdoor Curling Bonspiel event invites participants to embrace the winter spirit as they compete in curling matches on specially prepared outdoor rinks. Teams battle it out on the ice, and it’s really fun to watch!

3. Take a break in the Warming Huts entries

— Media credit: mariamgracedesign

The Warming Huts Art and Architecture Competition is a yearly event held on the trail. Designers and artists from around the world are invited to create unique and innovative warming huts that serve as both functional shelters and artistic installations.

These huts are scattered along the trail, providing skaters with opportunities to take a break from the cold and warm up, all while witnessing creative and thought-provoking designs.

4. Go ice biking

— Media credit: pauldmutch

Ice biking has also become a popular activity on the trail. Ice bikes, equipped with blades instead of wheels, allow riders to pedal across the frozen river.

5. Check out ice sculptures

— Media credit: queentite

Throughout the winter season, the trail features awe-inspiring ice sculptures created by local artists. I’m always amazed by the combination of art and winter fun when I see the displays.

What to Wear on the Trail

For a comfortable time on the trail, bundle yourself up with a sweat-wicking base and a fleece sweater with a windproof and waterproof outer layer.

Snow pants, insulated boots, a hat, gloves, and sunglasses are essentials too. For extra warmth, hand and foot warmers are handy when stopping along the trail.

If you’re not yet familiar with Winnipeg’s weather, let me tell you now that it can get unforgivingly chilly in the winter. Make sure you’re prepared (and overprepared at that!).

It’s one thing to bring a good winter coat for simple sightseeing, but it’s an entirely different story when you want to do some activities. You’ll need proper gear that will allow good motion so you can enjoy your time on the trail.

Start with breathable and quick-drying base layers, then add insulating fleece or wool sweaters with a waterproof outer layer. I’d suggest topping this with a heavy winter coat or parka to keep you even warmer.

Pair it with snow pants or insulated pants for protection against the cold and potential snowfall. Keep your extremities warm with a thick winter hat, insulated gloves or mittens, and warm socks in waterproof winter boots with good traction.

Sunglasses and sunscreen are essential for sun protection, too, even in the winter! Snow still reflects the sun so make sure to keep up with this as well; you don’t want to get ski goggles sunburn!

Keep a pair of hand and foot warmers ready; they can provide added warmth when you’re stopping along the trail or in one of those warming huts.