With snow on the ground, the best way to stay happy and healthy during the winter is to embrace the outdoors and keep yourself active.
Breathing in the colder air and staying out in the sun will elevate your mood and make the springtime come faster than you could have imagined. And fortunately, the Hudson Valley region offers the perfect environment to find a number of quality winter pursuits; athletics, exploration, and festivals abound through the winter months, so that you can continue to enjoy your community, even while the temperatures are down. The variety of options makes the Hudson Valley stand out from other regions, as it offers some of the finest winter destinations and unique experiences for all types of area visitors.
“Coming up to the Catskills to snowboard every weekend for the past four years changed my family’s life,” said new area resident Melissa Gibson of Woodstock. “We decided to move up here so that we could give our children and ourselves an outdoor winter lifestyle.” Many would be surprised to realize that the Hudson Valley offers over 15 downhill ski centers featuring a variety of terrain for beginners to expert riders. From November through April, one can enjoy the health benefits of downhill skiing and snowboarding, such as gaining stronger balance, flexibility, and aerobic strength. It’s a wonderful thing to do as a family or as a single, as all of the local hills offer a great social culture as well. “It’s so good to see the same folks take a break from the office, get out on the slopes, and spend some snow time together,” commented Betty Rae Liskom, adaptive sports program director at Belleayre Mountain. “A ski mountain is great for your health and your happiness. I know so many people who believe that.” And whether you are a racer, a park rat, or one who “just likes making some turns,” there is the perfect, local mountain for you in the Hudson Valley.
For those who would rather take it a bit slower and prefer to wander through the snowy wilderness, the valley can offer up several areas for one to click into cross-country skis or strap on a pair of snowshoes. “You’ll discover snowshoeing on the Hyde Park Heritage trail system to be quite enjoyable,” noted Kathleen Davis, Hyde Park Trail Coordinator. “Most [trails] are looped and can be hiked in an hour.” The US government recently awarded the Hyde Park Heritage Trail one of seven national grants to promote its world-class development. “All trails are well marked,” Davis continued, “which makes winter hiking all the more friendly for the entire family.” The Hyde Park Heritage Trails further features five audio podcasts available online, so hikers can access trail information and history while hiking and snowshoeing. It’s a unique winter pastime that can integrate learning and technology, the building of muscle mass, and improving cardiovascular health. Many private resorts such as Mohonk Mountain House (New Paltz) and Full Moon Resort (Big Indian) feature trails and offer equipment for their visitors to get out and enjoy their wintery grounds. State parks including Bear Mountain, Minnewaska, and Belleayre Mountain do the same, maintaining miles of trails, equipment rentals, and even instruction for visitors at very affordable rates.
For the nostalgic winter explorer, the Hudson Valley also has several opportunities for the most classic, cold-weather pursuits, such as ice-skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and winter festivals. Gliding around on a frozen streambed or backyard pond is as wistful as it comes for enjoying the winter months. And with the many Hudson Valley resorts that offer open ice-skating, it is easy to access the same memories, evenif you don’t have a pond in your backyard. Mommy and Me classes and “open-skates” are available at the McCann Ice Arena in Poughkeepsie, getting kids out on the ice starting at the age of three. Rocking Horse Ranch (Highland) invites folks to enjoy their ice rink, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and snowtubing at their Winter Fun Park.
And don’t overlook the many winter festivals that display annual ice carving demonstrations, local crafts, wine tastings, and countless varieties of hot chocolate. After any winter pursuit, a good cup of cocoa will remind you that it was a truly meaningful one.
Places To Visit This Winter
Highmount, NY, belleayre.com
Tannersville, NY, huntermtn.com/
Windham, NY, windhammountain.com
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain, NY http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/13/amenities-activities.aspx
Hyde Park Heritage Trails
Hyde Park, NY, hydeparkny.us/recreation/trails
Minnewaska State Park
Kerhonkson, NY http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/127/details.aspx
McCann Ice Arena
Mid-Hudson Civic Center Poughkeepsie, NY, midhudsonciviccenter.com
Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, NY, mohonk.com/
Full Moon Resort
Big Indian, NY, fullmoonresort.com/
Rocking Horse Ranch
Highland, NY, rockinghorseranch.com
Hudson Valley Winter Fest
West Point, NY thethayerhotel.com
Winter Festival at Hasbrouck Park Kingston. forsythnaturecenter.org