How to Make the Most of Winter in the Hudson Valley
Skiing at Hunter Mountain | Photo courtesy of Hunter Mountain
Stop moping about the short, cold days and get out there! We’ve discovered dozens of fun, invigorating ways to make the most of everyone’s least favorite time of year.
DOWNHILL SKIING & SNOWBOARDING
With a 3,429-foot summit towering over the Valley, come to Belleayre for its 50 trails, but stay for its outdoor restaurant and bar. With a majority of the trails labeled “more” or “most” difficult, five glades for off-trail alpine skiing, and terrain parks and x-courses, this is a haven for advanced skiers looking for a challenge. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of beginner trails and a large learning area for guests that are still getting their ski-legs. After you call it a day, retire to the recently renovated heated patio space with a clear view of the mountain.
181 Galli Curci Road, Highmount; belleayre.com
Catamount Mountain Resort
Out of their 43 trails, Catamount’s wide offering of easier slopes makes it ideal for beginners of all ages, including families with children who are just learning the ropes. Another standout? More than ten of those trails, from black diamond Lower Alley Cat to the green dot Ridge Run, are kept open after hours for night skiing. In addition to the new snowtubing course, anyone ages 6-20 can join the Catamount Alpine Race Team for a fun competition almost every weekend.
78 Catamount Road, Hillsdale; catamountski.com
With four separate mountain faces to ski, it’s no surprise that Hunter’s 67 downhill trails are almost evenly distributed in beginner, intermediate, and advanced difficulties. Catch a sunset on the lift up before taking on the west side of the mountain. And be sure to hit the nearly 1,000-foot-long tubing hill for a no-experience-necessary thrill.
64 Klein Avenue, Hunter; huntermtn.com
A smaller mountain with only 14 trails, this is one of the best places to go for those who have never worn ski boots before. The family-owned center offers free beginner skiing and snowboarding lessons on the weekends—with no reservation required, just pay for rentals, if needed. If you decide your chosen sport isn’t for you, don’t worry, you can decompress in the tubing lanes.
51 Old Mt. Peter Road, Warwick; mtpeter.com
Self-described as the last family-owned mountain in the northwest Catskills, Plattekill offers all the trails that another mid-size mountain would, but with an independent feel that larger resorts lack. Take one of four lifts to cruise on a 2-mile beginner trail, or challenge a steep double black diamond descent. They offer tubing, too!
469 Plattekill Road, Roxbury; plattekill.com
With lodging on site and nearby, Windham is great for a weekend trip. Not only can you ski or snowboard, there is an adjacent tubing park and sky rides on the lifts for those who are interested in the winter scenery, but nothing more. Alongside its 54 trails, perfect your tricks at one of their six terrain parks, ranging from easy to advanced with varying sized features, like jumps built in to the terrain and metal rails, to lift off or grind on.
19 Resort Dr, Windham; windhammountain.com
SLEDDING & TUBING
Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill
This Rhinebeck hill provides a half-mile, high-speed joyride. The only downside? The walk back up. But no worries, the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from the summit make it well worth the trek.
3137 NY-9G, Rhinebeck
Tubing at Windham
A quarter mile away from the main slopes, Windham’s six lanes are available for use in 2-hour blocks of time. Energize with some hot cocoa or a slice at Drop Zone Pizza, located at the base of the tubing hill, before getting back on the conveyor lift for a few more rounds of tubing.
360 County Route 12, Windham; windhammountain.com/visit/tubing-park
Although there isn’t a designated hill here to sled on, the most popular is by far the main hill by the band shell. Sledding is a winter go-to, but what makes this spot worth the trip are the gorgeous views of the Hudson River. Hay bale barricades ensure safe stopping, and a vending machine at nearby Pavilion 5 doles out hot chocolate and coffee.
85 Sheafe Road, Wappingers Falls
Snyder’s Farm Hill
Nestled between Woodstock and Saugerties off of Route 212, this steep hill is a prime destination for high-speed thrills. After a snowstorm, you’ll find plenty of families utilizing the farm hill, coasting through powder with views that overlook rolling fields and meadows.
Intersection of Route 212 and Route 32, Saugerties
With 45 acres of land, it’s not hard to find a good hill to go down here. One of Kingston’s largest parks, Hasbrouck’s sledding experience includes magnificent views of the Hudson River looking toward Rhinebeck. Be safe, and keep away from the cliffs and mines when sledding!
Delaware Avenue, Kingston
With a collection that spans local New Paltz artists to creators with international renown, Unison’s 5-acre sculpture garden is ready to welcome you to its grounds in the countryside from dawn to dusk every day, despite a coating of snow on the ground. Freestanding works of curved sheet metal and oversized stone hands grasping each other in a chain on the ground are among notable works by emerging artists.
68 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz; unisonarts.org
Storm King Art Center
Through mid-March, Storm King allows visitors on its grounds on weekends. Explore the property and view its large-scale sculptures, like the bronze cluster of gleaming eyes built by Louise Bourgeois, and site-specific commissions built into the landscape, including Andy Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall, a winding track of stone that divides the park.
New Windsor; stormking.org
Cross Country Skiing at Art Omi
Pronounced oh my, a trip to Art Omi’s sculpture park in the winter will have you understanding why. See works like Olaf Breuning’s 30-foot-tall cartoon-esque blue clouds held up by scaffolding, or Will Ryman’s abstract bust of Sisyphus, all while gliding on skis.
1405 County Route 22, Ghent; artomi.org
Bear Mountain Ice Rink
A tried-and-true venue, Bear Mountain’s rink is always a crowd favorite. With affordable admission and skate rentals, it’s easy to bring groups here without breaking the bank. Fully out in the open, if you skate during the day the sun may warm you up, and you’ll get a good view of the surrounding mountain scape. Plus, they offer nighttime skating sessions on Fridays and Saturdays.
3006 Seven Lakes Drive, Bear Mountain; bearmountainicerink.org
This beloved ice rink pops up every winter next to Bowdoin’s picnic pavilion. It’s the perfect spot for a no-frills, lowkey, skating session no matter your skill level—there’s no pressure or wandering eyes if you happen to slip or fall. Bonus: There are bathrooms and vending machines nearby.
85 Sheafe Road, Wappingers Falls
Mohonk Mountain House
Partially shielded from the elements by a stone and wood-crafted outdoor pavilion, Mohonk’s award-winning ice rink overlooks the frozen lake, and is only steps away from the amenities inside the resort. Overnight guests can enjoy free skate rentals; winter sport day-passes are available to outside visitors (check their website for more details), and discounted rates are offered to spa and meal guests. Need a break? Warm up by the 39-foot-tall stone fireplace between sessions.
1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz; mohonk.com
When it’s no longer golfing season, this recently-opened resort and golf course turns to ice skating and cross-country skiing. Spin and twirl in the basin of the Shawangunk Ridge, and trek throughout the peaceful woods in the daylight. (For more about Inness, turn to page 38).
10 Banks Street, Accord; inness.co
SNOW SHOEING & X-COUNTRY
Fahnestock Winter Park
Located within the 16,000-acre Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park, the park is home to 11 miles of machine-groomed and mapped trails for skiing and snowshoeing. You might even have a few close encounters with some of the region’s wildlife. Make sure to stop by their café for a hot drink when you’re ready to call it a day.
1570 Route 301, Carmel
Mohonk Mountain House
Boasting over 30 miles of groomed trails, Mohonk offers a day’s worth of fun. Rent your equipment at the ski shop and take a relaxed loop around the lake, or further out to Skytop Tower, the distinct building that sits atop the ridge, for gorgeous views of the surrounding Shawangunks. Also, be sure to play a round of winter disc golf while you’re still in your snowshoes!
1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz; mohonk.com
Minnewaska State Park
Spend your day learning how to cross-country ski in one of the Shawangunks’ largest parks. Take it easy by traversing the nearly 2-mile mostly flat loop around the docile lake, or make a day out of the trip by trekking out to Gertrude’s Nose, a landmark cliff edge that overlooks the Wallkill Valley. Whatever you choose, be safe and aware of your surroundings!
5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson; parks.ny.gov/parks/minnewaska
Olana State Historic Site
This historic, eccentric home of artist Frederic Church welcomes visitors to make use of their spacious carriage roads and meadows even with thick blankets of snow. Bring your own skis or snowshoes (and download a map from their website) to traverse around the lake, or trek out to the stunning vista on Ridge Road.
5720 State Route 9G, Hudson; olana.org
Franny Reese State Park
Open year-round from dawn to dusk, this free admission park is centrally located in Highland, offering impressive, snowy views of the Hudson and the Mid-Hudson Bridge toward Poughkeepsie. BYO equipment.
129 Macks Lane, Highland; parks.ny.gov/parks/frannyreese/maps.aspx
Rip Van Winkle Ranch
As long as there’s snow on the ground, the Rip Van Winkle Ranch can get you out on their mountain trails with a rental to try your hand at snowmobiling. Not a snowy year? No problem, they can outfit you with an all-terrain vehicle, too.
5305 Route 23A, Haines Falls; Find them on Facebook.
Rocking Horse Ranch
Walk, trot, and cantor through RHR’s 500 acres of woods with one of 119 horses in their friendly herd. If riding isn’t your thing, take a trip on a horse-drawn sleigh through their snowy trails. Be sure to check out their tubing lanes, ice rink, and beginner bunny hill for skiing.
600 State Route 44, Highland; rockinghorseranch.com
Westchester Trail Rides
Offering trail riding services to Westchester and other parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, this family-owned company is ready to take you exploring through the region on their three horses (Apache, Gabriel, and Buddy) year-round!
6 Croton Lake Road, Croton-on-Hudson; westchestertrailrides.com
With extensive trails winding through 117 acres of Orange County, join Juckas for 45- or 75-minute rides through farmlands and wooded trails for up-close views or scenery and wildlife. Or, embark on their “date night” last trip of the day, a private ride for two, to watch the sunset and sit cozily by a campfire afterwards.
1204 NY-302, Pine Bush; juckasstables.com