Parks throughout the region offer cold-season recreation
By Holly Riddle
The Adirondack Park offers a bevy of ways to enjoy the great outdoors, no matter the season. In winter, though, some of the more obvious activities — such as winter hiking in the High Peaks or skiing at venues such as Whiteface Mountain — can seem a little intimidating, especially for those who’ve yet to scale their first winter 46er or strap on a pair of skis to take on the ominous “Ice Face.”
For those seeking winter outdoor recreation opportunities in the Adirondacks that are more on the low-key side, or more suitable for families, there are a number of places to turn to. Here are a few state parks and state-run recreation areas throughout region that deliver winter fun.
Point au Roche State Park
- Where: 19 Camp Red Cloud Road, Plattsburgh
- Features: Cross-country skiing, snowshoes, ice fishing, events
- Contact: (518) 563-0369
Already well-loved by Plattsburgh residents, Point au Roche State Park sits right on Lake Champlain and offers plenteous wintertime recreation opportunities, sunrise to sunset every day.
One of the draws: Free snowshoes for public use. The nature center stocks toddler- to adult-sized, with complementary fittings for those new to the activity. The center is open Saturdays 11 a.m.–3 p.m., and Sundays noon–3 p.m.
The park also provides extensive educational programming, from winter-based science activities for families to naturalist-guided hikes for all ages. Events are posted on both the state park website, as well as the park’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/PointauRocheStatePark.
John Brown Farm State Historic Site
- Where: 115 John Brown Road, Lake Placid
- Features: Hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, events
- Contact: (518) 523-3900
While you may be familiar with John Brown Farm’s historic structures and exhibits, which are open during the summer months, it’s worth stopping by during the winter, too. The site is located right outside Lake Placid, within view of the Olympic Ski Jump Complex.
Scheduled events include nighttime full-moon hikes (Feb. 18, March 18, and April 17) and stargazing experiences (Feb. 3, March 2 and April 2). The latter free event offers participants the chance to “view the celestial heavens” via the site’s provided telescope.
Via a partnership with Country Dreams Farm, the site also offers horse-drawn sleigh rides on the weekends (dependent on weather). Sleigh ride tickets can be purchased by calling Country Dreams Farm at (518) 565-6051.
Moreau Lake State Park
- Where: 605 Old Saratoga Road, Gansevoort
- Features: Cross-country skiing, ice fishing, ice skating, events
- Contact: (518) 793-0511
Moreau Lake State Park offers multiple ways to get out on the lake and enjoy the ice. The park offers free skating and ice skate rentals for both children and adults, 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. daily. Scheduled events include family hikes and even children’s ice fishing clinics. The park also provides regular “Knee High Naturalist” programming, with story time in the winter warming hut followed by a short nature walk geared to ages 2 to 5. Registration for the Knee High Naturalist program is required, by calling (518) 917-2174, and there is a small fee of $1 per child.
Higley Flow State Park
- Where: 442 Cold Brook Drive, Colton
- Features: Snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing
- Contact: (315) 262-2880
Volunteers help to maintain groomed trails at Higley Flow State Park for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling for the entire family. Thanks to nonprofit Friends of Higley Flow State Park, activities and educational recreation opportunities are also available, such as a youth ski program that kicked off in mid-January, offering ski lessons and group activities for children ages 4-14. A similar program offers beginner and intermediate Nordic ski lessons for adults. For more information on, and to register for, upcoming events, check out the Friends of Higley Flow State Park website at higleyfriends.org.
Five additional options for family fun:
Buck Pond Campground and Day Use Area
- Where: 1339 County Route 60, Onchiota
- Features: Snowmobiling, ice fishing, cross-country skiing
- Contact: (518) 897-1309
Sacandaga Campground & Day Use Area
- Where: 1047 State Highway Route 30, Northville
- Features: Skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling
- Contact: (518) 863-4545
Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area
- Where: 32 Ausable Beach Road, Peru
- Features: Skiing, ice fishing, bird watching
- Contact: (518) 897-1291
Cumberland Bay State Park
- Where: 152 Cumberland Head Road, Plattsburgh
- Features: Skiing, snowshoeing
- Contact: (518) 563-5240
Macomb Reservation State Park
- Where: 201 Campsite Road, Schuyler Falls
- Features: Skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling
- Contact: (518) 643-9952