Winter is coming – and one way to beat the cold, while still getting to check out some of the valley’s best views, is by cross-country skiing.
Bowdoin Park, Wappingers Falls: Sledding with hay bale safety barricades, skating rink and more. See map.
Dutchess Rail Trail, Hopewell Junction to Poughkeepsie: Over 13 miles of county parks that link to the regional trail network. Website.
Harlem Valley Rail Trail, Wassaic to Millerton: Over 16 miles of trails through Dutchess and Columbia counties. Website.
James Baird State Park, Pleasant Valley: 590-acre state park situated on farmland once owned by James Baird, a contractor and engineer whose firm constructed the Lincoln Memorial. Website.
Mills Norrie State Park, Staatsburg: 356-acre park. Snowshoeing allowed on all trails. See map.
Stony Kill Environmental Education Center, Wappingers Falls: 750 acres, snowshoe rental available. Website.
Taconic State Park, Copake Falls: 16 miles of the Taconic Mountain Range located in Columbia and Dutchess County, New York abutting Massachusetts and Connecticut with trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, as well as 5 miles of snowmobile trails. Website.
Wassaic State Multiple Use Area: 488-acre state forest with unmarked trails. Website.
Wilcox Park, Milan: Over five miles of trails with scenic overlook of Stissing Mountain and the Catskills. Website.
Fahnestock State Park, Carmel: Over 11 miles of machine groomed, tracked and mapped trails for all skiers and snowshoers. Website.
Bear Mountain State Park: 5,205-acre state park. Website.
Belleayre Mountain, Highmount: 170 skiable acres, 5.7 for cross country skiing; Managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, the organization that manages the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. Website.
D&H Canal Heritage Corridor, from Kingston to Ellenville: 35 miles in the Rondout Valley. Website.
Franny Reese State Park, Highland: 251-acre state park with 2.5 miles of trails follow in part an historic carriage road that passes the ruins of a 19th-century estate, while an overlook affords superb views of the Mid-Hudson Bridge, Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park and the City of Poughkeepsie. Website.
Frost Valley YMCA, Claryville: Groomed cross-country trails set on 5,500 acres in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. Website.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Kerhonkson: 22,275-acre preserve located on the Shawangunk Ridge featuring groomed trails. Website.
Mohonk Preserve, Gardiner: 100 miles of carriage roads and trails. Website.
Phoenicia Mt. Tobias Wild Forest, Towns of Shandaken, Woodstock and Olive in Ulster County and town of Hunter in Greene County: Snowshoeing is allowed on all trails. Cross-country skiing is best on the gentler slopes of the old woods road leading up to Mt. Tobias (elevation 2,544). Website.
Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, New Paltz: 12.2-mile path. Website.
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CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING TIPS:
• DO NOT WALK IN SKI TRACKS. Footprints leave holes in the tracks that can be hazardous to skiers. Walk to the side if necessary.
• LEAVE DOGS AT HOME. Paw tracks and other markings can ruin the experience for fellow skiers.
• DO NOT SKI ALONE.
• PASS ON FLAT GROUND, NOT DOWNHILL. Faster skiers should let others know they are passing by calling “track.” Slower skiers should step out of the track to the right, if possible.
• BE PREPARED. Because winter weather conditions can change quickly, proper planning and communicating your trip itinerary to others is a must. Dress in layers of moisture wicking, quick drying fabrics to stay warm and most importantly, dry. Drinking plenty of water and maintaining your hydration levels is critical. Dehydration and hypothermia go hand in hand and eating and drinking more than you think you need is a good practice to follow. And of course, for any backcountry adventures, you should have proper equipment and always be prepared to spend the night in the woods.