Our mountains, trails, and hills are cool year-round, of course, but especially when Mother Nature (or a state-of-the-art snowmaking setup) makes it possible to slide down the slopes at breathtaking speed, which is extremely inadvisable in spring, summer, or fall.
No longer is this primarily reserved for those with the skill and nerve to indulge in it with high-tech boards buckled to their feet and pointy poles, though we doff our cozy knit caps to them: earlaps, pompoms, and all. Today’s regional Winter Wonderland has plenty to offer for those who prefer to seat themselves on a sled or tube for the trip.
And if gliding on ice skates is your thing, we’ve plenty for you as well—same if your fun of choice is a cross-country ski or snowshoe expedition.
Whatever option you pick, you’ll be doing your body and spirit a favor out among the wide-open skies, glorious views, and bracing breezes. Bundle up and get out there for the slide of a lifetime. Destinations are loosely grouped by primary activity, but many offer more than one flavor of winter fun. Check with the management for information about COVID precautions or advance reservations.
BONUS: Looking for something a little bit different? Alpine Endeavors will help you get organized and go ice climbing in the Catskills or Adirondacks. Call 877-486-5769 to learn more, or email email@example.com.
There’s also the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club that operates ice sailing on the Hudson. They can’t really schedule events in advance, since river conditions need to be just right; but when they are up and running, they might give you a free ride if you show up and ask. Their unofficial website can be found at hriyc.org.
Clermont State Historic Site in Germantown has five miles of marked trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoeing enthusiasts with gorgeous Hudson River views. One Clermont Avenue, Germantown 518-537-4240; parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/16
Fahnestock Winter Park in Carmel offers over 11 miles of groomed trails, plus hills for sledding and tubing. 1570 Route 301, Carmel 845-225-7207 parks.ny.gov/parks/fahnestockwinterpark
Walnut Mountain Park, maintained by the Town of Liberty, offers over 13 miles of trails in the heart of the Sullivan County Catskills. 73 Walnut Mountain Road, Liberty, 845-292-7690 playinlibertyny.com
The Mongaup Pond trailhead, located at a campground 10 miles east of Livingston Manor, provides access to 50 miles of multi-use trails. 231 Mongaup Pond Road, Livingston Manor dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24484.html
James Baird State Park offers seven miles of wooded trails to ski and snowshoe in Pleasant Valley. 14 Maintenance Lane, Pleasant Valley 845-452-1489; parks.ny.gov/parks/101
Mohonk Preserve grooms a selection of their carriage roads for serene Shawangunk skiing, and you’re welcome to ski and snowshoe on the rest of the 70 miles backcountry-style. You’ll want to park at the West Trapps, Coxing, Spring Farm or Testimonial Gateway trailheads. New Paltz 845-255-0919 mohonkpreserve.org
Minnewaska State Park Preserve welcomes cross-country skiers and snowshoers as well. 5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson 845-255-0752
The Shawangunk Nordic Ski Association offers maps, conditions, free clinics, and a racing program for all ages when conditions permit. Shawangunk Mountains skithegunks.com
outdoor ice skating
Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls features a 76-by-80-foot ice-skating rink with glorious river views; its 301 acres also offer gentle sledding hills. 85 Sheafe Rd, Wappingers Falls 845-298-4607; dutchessny.gov
Mohonk Mountain House Ice Pavilion is a 9,375-square-foot outdoor ice-skating rink graced by a 39-foot-tall stone fireplace perfect for warming up with a cup of hot chocolate. Thirty miles of trails with stellar Catskills views are available for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. 1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz 855-883-3798; mohonk.com
Bear Mountain Ice Rink, located at the Bear Mountain State Park in Tomkins Cove, is a beautiful outdoor rink with gorgeous views, skate rentals, and skating lessons. 3006 Seven Lakes Drive, Bear Mountain 845-786-2701, x266 bearmountainicerink.org
sledding and tubing
Staatsburg State Historic Site in Staatsburg is the former estate of Ogden and Ruth Livingston Mills, and you’re welcome to use your plastic sled or snow tube on their expansive lawn for free. (No metal runners, please!) The surrounding and neighboring Mills and Norrie state parks are laced with trails great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 75 Mills Mansion Drive, Road #1, Staatsburg, 845-889-8851 parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/staatsburgh
Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill in Rhinebeck has a half-mile sledding hill. The climb may be long, but so’s the ride—and at the summit, panoramic views take in the Catskills to the west and the Berkshires to the east on a clear day. The park also offers plenty of trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. 3137 NY-9G, Rhinebeck, 845-876-4213; winnakee.org/burger-hill
Catamount Ski Area in Hillsdale allows you to ski across state lines, offering 42 trails and terrain parks, lessons, and the nation’s longest zip line, open year-round. Hillsdale, NY, S. Egremont, MA 413-528-1262; catamountski.com
Mount Peter in Warwick offers summit views, 14 trails, and free lessons in skiing and boarding. The oldest ski operation in NY, they welcome tubers too, with a speedy 600-foot run equipped with carpet lift and a much milder hill for the little tykes. 51 Old Mt. Peter Road, Warwick 845-986-4940; mtpeter.com
Holiday Mountain Ski and Fun Park in Monticello offers “kinderski” for the little ones and a ski club with instruction for all skill levels, along with boarding and tubing. 99 Holiday Mountain Road, Monticello 845-796-3161; holidaymtn.com
Belleayre Mountain, New York State’s publicly owned ski area in Highmount, offers skiing and snowboarding on 50 trails and five glades plus a terrain park, a progression park, and an X-Course. There are lessons for all ages and skill levels and an adaptive program, and miles of trails available for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. They’ve also got on-mountain dining and day care. 181 Galli Curci Road, Highmount 845-254-5600; belleayre.com
Plattekill Mountain is a friendly, family-owned Catskills ski resort with 38 trails and terrain for all skill levels. They’ve been described in Powder magazine as “The Alta of the Catskills.” There’s lift service available to tubers here, too. 469 Plattekill Road, Roxbury, 607-326-3500 plattekill.com