Hamilton’s unique geographic location on the western corner of Lake Ontario makes it home to some supremely picturesque natural outdoor skating spots. The best outdoor skating in Hamilton can be found tucked into the Dundas Valley on the shallow waters of Cootes Paradise. There’s also a spattering of other outdoor community-run rinks in neighbourhoods spread throughout the city.
Waterfront Outdoor Rink Pier 8
Enjoy great winter views of the bay and Hamilton Harbour while skating on the Waterfront Rink. There’s on-site skate rentals, skate sharpening, safety equipment and helmets to rent. Take a break and warm up at Williams Coffee Pub (just next to the rink) for a bite to eat, hot chocolate or coffee, and washrooms. The rink is open 10am-10pm daily with skate rentals open 5-10pm Monday to Friday and all day on Saturdays and Sundays (*special hours during the holidays). If you plan on renting skating equipment you’ll need to bring valid ID (driver’s license, citizenship card or birth certificate).
During the colder winter months when entering the city from Burlington (on the 403 or McQueston Bridge) you’ve probably seen small groups of people skating or playing hockey out on the shallow bay of Cootes Paradise. It’s a great sight to see and an even better experience to be out there yourself in the open air on natural ice soaking in the gorgeous views of the Dundas Valley. Out on Princess Point looking towards Dundas you can see the frozen inlet waters against the forested hills of the Niagara Escarpment. Seriously one of the most beautiful Southern Ontario views.
Behind a quiet mid-century cul de sac in Dundas there’s a secret skating spot. When frozen, Lake Jojo offers a secluded and beautiful skate; the day after a fresh snowfall its tree-lined shores would make for nothing less than a skate through a fairy tale winter wonderland. East of York Road from Sleepy Hollow Court there’s a small path that leads out towards this mini lake and around its circumference.
Dundas Driving Park
If skating at Bayfront’s outdoor rink with the crowds on a weekend seems too overwhelming then check out a smaller and more laidback version of Pier 8’s Waterfront Rink at Dundas Driving Park. There’s a concession stand and a zamboni that keeps the surface of the ice in primo skating condition.
Valen’s Skating Loop
Last year is Valen’s Conservation Area tested out a 425 meter long skating loop through the forest. But because of fluctuating temperatures and the difficulty in maintaining a rink of that type, this year the forested loop will not be open. There will however, be a rink and ice skating loop on the frozen reservoir waters at Valens Lake for the winter. Admission is $10 (includes the vehicle entrance plus the driver), plus $5 for each passenger. Be sure to check their website for ice conditions.
Waterdown Rotary Memorial Park Skating Loop
Newly opened in 2016, this 230 meter loop has ice that is climate controlled, so it’s open even on those milder winter days. There is a skate change area and washrooms on site.
Throughout the city there are community rinks that are maintained by neighbourhood volunteers when appropriately cold winter weather permits. In previous years parks like Corktown, Victoria Park, Churchill Park and HAAA have had outdoor rinks. Check the city website for lists of outdoor Community Rink locations around the city.