Trees throughout the region may be barren, but the vistas have never been better. It’s an exceptional time of year for outdoor fun. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, nature lover, or enjoy taking it all in from a window with a warm interior, winter in the Hudson Valley has something for you. It’s enjoyable to just participate in DIY activities, such as snowball fighting and snowman building, but there is also a huge infrastructure of individuals and businesses that thrive on creating invigorating outdoors experiences. Try some downhill skiing or ice climbing for thrilling, scenic, and physically exerting fun. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are peaceful endurance activities while sledding and ice-skating are pure pleasure. Here’s a description of some exciting regional activities to tempt you into becoming a true winter lover.
Cross-country skiing is a fabulous choice if you enjoy physical excursion, scenic terrain, and moderate speed. It is one of the best full body calorie-burning workouts, as it uses every major muscle group. This endurance sport can be physically challenging but extremely rewarding. A quiet glide through one of the region’s many trails offers a peaceful reminder of the beauty of the season.
There are two main types of cross-country skiing: classic and skate skiing (although other styles do exist). Classic skiing is typically done on groomed terrain with parallel skis. Skate skiing transfers your body’s weight from one side to the other, looking similar to ice-skating. There is a lot to learn about cross-country skiing—different gear is used for different skiing styles, and there are limb movements that will help you traverse a variety of terrains at different speeds.
For excellent cross-country skiing, visit one of the many rail trails throughout the towns of Rochester, Marbletown, and Rosendale. More terrain can be found at several local resorts and ski mountains, including Frost Valley YMCA, Mohonk Mountain House, Belleayre Mountain, and Hunter Mountain.
Belleayre Mountain, Highmount, NY. belleayre.com
Belleayre has nine kilometers of free cross-country trails from beginner to expert.
Clermont State Park, Germantown, NY. stateparks.com/clermont.html
In addition to the Clermont family home, the property houses five carriage road trails for the cross-country skiing enthusiast.
Fahnestock Winter Park, Cold Spring, NY. nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/147/details.aspx
Fahnestock Memorial State Park’s 10,000 acres of natural wonders
offer 7.2 total miles of machine-groomed, tracked, and mapped trails.
Frost Valley YMCA, Claryville, NY. frostvalley.org
Set on 6,000 acres deep in the Catskill Mountains, Frost Valley YMCA offers great skiing for all ages and abilities. Frost Valley YMCA offers all kinds of winter fun like broomball, snowshoeing, tubing, cross-country skiing, and snow sculptures.
Minnewaska State Park, Kerhonkson, NY.
Experience trails like Awosting and Castle Point Trail Loop, a 9.2-mile total loop with an elevation of 1,650 feet. nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/127/details.aspx
Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, NY. mohonk.com
Mohonk Mountain House has 35 miles of trails groomed for skiing. Lessons are available.
Mohonk Preserve, Gardiner, NY. mohonkpreserve.org
The Mohonk Preserve has a large network of trails for cross-country skiing through interesting cliffs, trees, and rocks. Two favorites are Spring Farm trailhead and the Trapps.
Mountain Trails Cross-Country Ski Center, Tannersville, NY. mttrails.com
Mountain Trails offers 35 kilometers of quiet nature trails on 300 groomed acres.
The Shawangunk Ridge offers many unique climbing opportunities. With its steep bold face and accessible carriage roads, the “Gunks” attract climbers from around the world. In the winter, as the days get colder the cliffs and ridges become home to sheets and blades of glassy ice. For some adventurists, this signifies that it’s time to ice climb!
Ice climbing is a thrilling sport that really connects the climber with nature. Serious climbers are able to read the ice—noticing intricacies of thickness, color, sheen, and formation to inform their next move. Climbing on ice uses some hard-core gear—boots with spikes, ice picks, and the gamut of traditional climbing ropes and gear. There are many different trails for people of different skill levels. It’s an amazing workout with exceptional views and a great sense of accomplishment.
Guided tours and instruction are available with:
Alpine Endeavors, New Paltz, NY. alpineendeavors.com
Mountain Skills, New Paltz, NY. mountainskills.biz
Check out our video
of Alpine Endeavors ice climbing lessons at visitvortex.com/Ice_Climbing_the_Catskills
Sledding & Tubing
What better way to relive our youth a little than to run with a sled toward the slope then dive belly first down the long packed hill. In a mountainous region like ours sledding spots abound, and sledding is probably the most popular family sport and a great aerobic activity.
Unlike the serene sports of ice climbing and cross-country skiing, sledding is filled with the laughter and joyful screams of the sledders. Hudson Valley hills offer exhilarating rides, and for the adventurous, ordinary sledding slopes can be transformed into all-terrain sledding parks with walls and jumps of snow. Ride your sled belly-down, feet first, doubles, triples, on round tubes, or toboggans…this sport offers a lot of opportunities to get creative with your sledding partners—just beware for big trees and other sledders.
Many homeowners in the region can buy a sled and hit the hills in their own backyards. But for some truly perfect slopes, there are a variety of wonderful public places, with rentals, rope pulls, and all.
Sled atop a 550-foot hill that rises up to boast a panoramic vista of the Hudson River Valley.
Clarence Fahnestock State Park
Fahnestock Winter Park includes an area for sledding within the 14,086-acre park. Bring your own snow tubes, toboggans, and sleds, or rentals available. nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/147/details.aspx.
Hudson Valley Resort & Spa
Kerhonkson, NY. hudsonvalleyresort.com
A snowmaking machine ensures more fun, more often, and a T-bar lift whisks riders right up to the top after each run.
Hunter, NY. huntermtn.com
Hunter’s snow tubing park has nine chutes, each nearly 1,000 feet long and two tube tows to haul you back to the top.
Pine Grove Ranch
Kerhonkson, NY. pinegroveranch.com
Get a day pass at the ranch to enjoy tubing, ice-skating, and skiing.
Rocking Horse Ranch Resort
Highland, NY. rockinghorseranch.com
Bring your own sleds or snow tubes, or rent.
Sawkill Family Ski Center
Kingston, NY. sawkillski.com
Sawkill Family Ski Center features a new snowmaking system and new snow tubing run.
Staatsburgh State Historic Site
Staatsburgh, NY. staatsburgh.org
This 192-acre estate offers a snow-covered, sweeping, descending hill as its back lawn, providing wintertime sledding and tobogganing.
Once there are about six inches of snow covering the ground, it’s time to break out the snowshoes to take a hike. Snowshoeing is a very peaceful and quiet way to enjoy the snow-covered forests and trails. In the past, snowshoes were essential for trappers, fur traders, and cultures that needed to travel through snowy landscapes on foot. Today, snowshoes are still essential for forest rangers, but the snowshoe is now primarily used for recreation by hikers and runners who won’t let a little of the white stuff get in their way.
Snowshoes distribute a person’s body weight over a large area so that the foot doesn’t sink into the ground. If you love hiking and love the snow, this is a wonderful activity to explore. After a small investment in snowshoes, this pastime is of little or no cost, and can be enjoyed on marked trails or through wooded terrain. Snowshoes come in recreational, mountaineering, and running styles. For your first time you may want to rent snowshoes to see if the sport is a fit for you. Just like hiking, the amount of energy you exert is in your control. Pick an easy hike to begin with as it will take your body some adjustment to walk on snowy pastures.
Check out the Mohonk Preserve “Singles and Sociables” Winter Outings (mohonkpreserve.org/index.php?events) for some guided snowshoeing through the beautiful preserve trails. Skiing and snowshoeing outings are offered throughout the winter, and if there is no snow…enjoy a hike!
Highmount, NY. belleayre.com/winter/snowshoe.htm
Enjoy beginner to difficult guided snowshoe tours at Belleayre, or hike independently through the mountains.
Catskill Forest Preserve
Big Indian, NY.
Rochester Hollow Trail is a total of 5.6 miles, and one of the few easier ski/snowshoe trails in the vicinity of Slide Mountain (the Catskill’s highest peak).
Fahnestock Winter Park
Cold Spring, NY.
Rent either running or recreational snowshoes and hike around two dedicated snowshoe trails.
Frost Valley YMCA
Claryville, NY. frostvalley.org
Frost Valley offers family fun snowshoe rentals deep in the heart of the Catskills.
Hyde Park Trails
Hyde Park, NY. hydeparkny.us/Recreation/Trails/
Hyde Park Trails offers over 10 miles of trails and five informational trail-related audio podcasts online, so hikers can access trail information and history on the go.
Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, NY. mohonk.com
Take in spectacular views from a variety of cross-country trails that are perfect for snowshoeing too.
Gardiner, NY. mohonkpreserve.org
Mohonk offers one easy and two moderate trails for snowshoe enthusiasts. There are no rentals on site, so pick up snowshoes in town.
Stony Kill Farm
Environmental Center Fishkill, NY. dec.ny.gov/education/1833.html
Weather permitting, seasonal winter hikes become snowshoe hikes on Saturday afternoons.
At the heart of winter sports lives ice-skating. Ice-skating is a wonderful way to challenge one’s balance and speed, while getting a great cardio workout in the brisk air. There are many beautiful rinks throughout the valley, offering rentals, lessons, and hot cocoa! Some have cozy outdoor hearths and classical winter music to add to the charm of the sport.
On a perfect winter day enjoy the thrill of the blade on ice, as you effortlessly float on the ice below. Our area rinks can help you get all of the equipment, and offer lessons to help you improve your skills if you are a novice. There are figure skating clubs and ice hockey teams available to join, and a host of special events on ice to witness. Embrace the iciness of winter this year!
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain boasts a beautiful outdoor
rink with rentals at the base of the mountain.
Fancher-Davidge Park, Middletown, NY.
This quaint city park has lights for night skating.
Ice Time Sports Complex
Newburgh, NY. icetimesports.com
This Newburgh venue hosts a figure skating club, public skating, and hockey games.
McCann Ice Arena
Poughkeepsie, NY. midhudsonciviccenter.org
McCann can be rented for private use, and offers figure skating, hockey, and public sessions all year.
Mill Pond, Monroe, NY
This is a pond with no perks, so come prepared. When the flag is green skating is permitted.
Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, NY.
Enjoy skating, or just hang out watching the skaters in this nostalgic setting with its gorgeous wooden beam pavilion, stone columns, and a huge stone fireplace.
Windham Mountain Adventure Park
Windham, NY. windhammountain.com
Windham has a classic skating area complete with a warming fire pit. Also enjoy the 650-foot snow-covered slopes for snow tubing.
Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
Downhill skiing and snowboarding are the first thing that most people think of when envisioning winter sports and fun activities in the Hudson Valley. The Catskills are abundant with great slopes including Hunter, Belleayre, Windham, and Plattekill. Ride the lifts to the tops of the mountains and take your favorite trails down, exploring each challenge that the trail presents in new ways. Skiing and snowboarding are great sports to test your boundaries of strength, endurance, and balance, and they keep you mentally sharp as you must be a fast thinker out there on the slopes. The fun and physical excursion of skiing and snowboarding is also addictive!
Highmount, NY. belleayre.com
Belleayre is part of the Catskill State Park with 47 trails and 8 lifts. Check out their family friendly programming, snowboard terrain park, progression parks, and new high-speed quad.
Roxbury, NY. plattekill.com/winter/
Experience the difference of a small family-run mountain. There are wide, gentle slopes for beginners and double black diamonds for the experts. Plattekill Mountain has a laid back family atmosphere.
Hunter, NY. huntermtn.com
Hunter Mountain has over 50 trails and 11 lifts. Three separate mountains offer a large diversity of trail terrain. Hunter has great spacious learning terrain and some amazing expert slopes with jumps and bumps for the seasoned skier. Read more on the next page.
Windham, NY. windhammountain.com
Windham Mountain has 46 trails and 9 lifts, a 600-foot half pipe, and five terrain parks, complete with rails, bumps, boxes, jibs, and tabletops.
featured winter fun location
There are a plethora of recreational activities on Hunter Mountain. The winter is bustling with skiers and snowboarders at the Hunter Ski Resort built around Colonel’s Chair ridge in the mountain’s northwest corner. On a clear day, the views from this summit stretch to the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts and to Vermont’s Green Mountains. Hunter Mountain has over 50 trails and 11 lifts. Three separate mountains offer a large diversity of trail terrain. At Hunter Mountain you’ll find camps and workshops for all ages and levels of ability. Hunter has great spacious learning terrain and some amazing expert slopes with jumps and bumps for the seasoned skier. The park also offers snow tubing and a variety of special events, and definitely check out the Empire Terrain Park.
Join in one of Hunter Mountain’s race camps to get ready for a winning season. Courses range from junior training camps to adult master race camps. Hunter has a variety of exciting races that are open to the public and some specialty races that are, well…special! Check out their Fireman’s Race, or the US Chefs Club Race Series—comprised of teams of four with a chef or restaurateur as the captain. They fly down the mountain in a chef’s coat and bib to win the top trophy. The new and improved LocalMotion Race Series takes place on six Mondays during the 2012 season. Teams and individual amateur racers compete in slalom, giant slalom, and multi-races. LocalMotion races are open to skiers and riders ages 21 and over. Or join the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Race Series—a free, fun race open to all ages and abilities. Bring your friends & family, and join in the fun and the excitement of this race series.
Hunter Mountain is also home to New York Zipline Adventure Tour’s SkyRider Tour, offering four seasons of zipline adventure. Imagine letting gravity pull you down the mountain nearly 600 feet above the ground at 50 miles per hour, watching the winter scenery rapidly change below. The SkyRider Tour Zipline at Hunter Mountain is the longest, highest zipline in North America, offering both high-adventure zips (which in the winter is an extreme sport) and family friendly tours.
On the backside of all this high-action recreational activity are lean-tos, Department of Environmental Conservation trails, and the actual Hunter Mountain summit, with one of only four fire towers in the Catskills. Aside from the village of Hunter, Phoenicia is a great town to launch your winter exploration of Hunter Mountain. For more info go to www.huntermtn.com.