Time to sharpen your blades: Ice skating trail built at Lake Brophy County Park
Ice skating enthusiasts, listen up! There's a new place to dig in your blades this season.
An ice skating trail has been designed and formed out at the new Lake Brophy County Park, along the Central Lakes Trail, less than three miles west of Alexandria.
The ice skating trail is 16 feet wide and roughly three-fourths of a mile long on the north side of Lake Brophy.
Brad Bonk, Douglas County parks superintendent, said he was always interested in what an ice trail would look like out at the park, and two of his parks department employees, Mike Anderson and Bryan Thue, were able to help him out.
He said they were able to make watering equipment out of a PCV pipe and sprayer tank mounted to a truck. They picked a spot at the park because it was flat and had other winter activities — such as sledding hills and groomed trails — nearby.
This particular spot may not be the permanent home of the ice trail, but was a place this year to try out, Bonk said. As the park takes shape, the ice skating trail will evolve even further.
"The community's vision through the park planning process was for Lake Brophy County Park to be an outdoor recreation destination, with many different ways to recreate outdoors," Bonk said. "This is just an added layer to what we already have to offer — sledding, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and hiking."
Bonk said the park will eventually include mountain biking trails, a playground and fishing pier that are being funded through grants. He said there was very little cost to provide the trail — some water and a few trips with the truck and it was built.
"Snow will help to create some edges to level it out, but as all of us are aware, we haven't had much of that the last few years," Bonk said.
There hasn't been consistent snow cover over the last four years, he said, but there has been consistently-cold temperatures to build ice.
"The ice skating trail is something outdoor enthusiasts can count on in a winter season more than the snow-dependent activities — sledding, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing," said Bonk.
In the past couple of weeks, the parks department has been making ice by adding water to the trail from the water truck and its 535-gallon tank.
Thue, who has driven the truck several times out at the park, said it takes less than five minutes to fill the water tank on the truck, and he can make it around the trail about seven-and-a-half to eight times before the water runs out.
Both Bonk and Thue are hoping their efforts pay off and residents make use of the new trail, which also features benches for skaters to rest on and a fire pit to warm themselves by if they so choose. Firewood is available, courtesy of the parks department. It is located right next to the ice skating trail.
Besides the newly formed ice skating trail, Thue said there are also going to be three hills that, once it snows a significant amount, will be groomed for sledding.
"Once it snows, it is going to be phenomenal sledding out here," he said, referring to the hills at Lake Brophy County Park.
Atop one hill are benches and a fire pit that also includes a wood pile, and sledders can grab wood from it if they want to build a fire.
"We put the fire pits at the park to help keep people nice and toasty," Thue said.
He emphasized the convenience factor, too — Lake Brophy County Park is close to town, less than three miles from downtown, so it's easy to get to and loads of fun to explore.