Outdoor Ice & Conditions

Green = Open
Red = Closed
Yellow = Caution
? = Questionable


Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays
12:00 – 8:00 pm
(Shelter and Skate Rental Closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Day)

New Years Eve
12:00 – 4:00 pm

Monday – Friday
(December 19 – January 3)
4:00 – 8:00 pm

Please contact Kevin Rutherford at 847-716-1299 or krutherford@nullwinpark.org for any questions regarding ice conditions at Hubbard Woods, Indian Hill and Northfield Parks. For Gullen’s Pond (next to the Winnetka Ice Arena) status please click here or contact Paul Schwartz at 847-501-2062 or pschwartz@nullwinpark.org.

The Science of Making Outdoor Ice
Winter officially arrives in Winnetka when the outdoor rinks at Hubbard Woods, Indian Hill and Northfield Parks are up and running. It is a rite of passage for generations of residents whether it’s children learning to skate for the first time, pick up hockey games with friends, family time on the ice or grandparents watching their grandchildren skating and reminiscing about past skating races in Winnetka. The process of making ice is a labor of love, because it is not a process that comes easily. This article is designed to help residents and outdoor ice enthusiasts understand the step by step process involved to create an outdoor ice surface in Winnetka.

Step #1: Staff preparation on the rigors of making ice.
This training/preparation begins prior to the potential start of the ice making season. Park staff review the process, determine their roles and prepare the necessary equipment.

Step #2: Wait for ideal ice making conditions.
Consistent low temperatures (below 20 degrees) for several days are required to allow frost to develop below the surface of the ground. This will prevent the water from just soaking into the ground when preparing the rink area.

Step #3: Time to make the ice.
While many believe the area’s flooded, the process actually involves layering the water in both thin and thick layers (depending on the weather conditions). The park staff attaches a 2 inch fire hose from an adjacent fire hydrant for the water. It takes about 3 to 4 days of layering the water to get a rink established under ideal conditions. During the ice building stage, crews work around the clock until the ice is established. That’s at least a week between steps 2 and 3 for a rink to be ready during ideal circumstances.

Step #4: Sustaining the ice.
Once the ice is established, park staff will perform a maintenance program of sweeping the rinks. The ice shavings are used to fill holes and cracks that may have formed in the ice. Water is sprayed daily to the repaired areas and to increase overall ice thickness. There are several influences that can affect the conditions of outdoor ice and these conditions either bring you back to “Step #2” or adversely affect the quality of ice.

The air temperature needs to be well below the 32 degree freezing point. Warmer temperatures prevent staff from making high quality ice rinks. It is also important to not use the rinks until a substantial thickness has been achieved. Proper ice thickness helps to prevent the ice from chipping and breaking.

Snow Accumulation
If snow falls prior to achieving the necessary frost level this will insulate the ground and prevent the rink from forming properly. The skating area needs to be free of snow prior to any water application. It is also not a good idea to attempt to make ice when it is snowing. The water will mix with the snow and form slush. When it freezes the skating surface becomes rough and will easily crack with use.