Winter is upon us, so what’s a body to do… Well quite frankly, a lot. If you are located in the Greater Ulster County Area, winter brings a host of activity and if I may say, adventure. For those individuals who reside in Metropolitan New York City, a weekend retreat in Ulster County will put you in the heart of an area that can supply you with endless hours of activity, or some quiet time curled up in front of a fire with a good book and a favorite drink. (You can substitute your beverage of choice.)
Just because the temperature has taken a dip on the old thermometer, by no means indicates that activity on the water has ceased for the year. Just the opposite is true, and activity increases once the freezing is sufficiently underway. A brief word on the waterways of Ulster County, and the great impact they have on local activity and daily life. Although Long Island has the east end which most people identify with the Hamptons, and Jones beach on the west end with many additional possibilities in between both on the North and South shore, Ulster County’s vast amount of streams, tributaries, brooks and rivers, provides those looking for waterfront access in property some very real and attainable options when looking at the possibilities of renting or owning a second home. For those who are not familiar with the history of the area, fly fishing was invented in the streams and brooks that run through Ulster County. Some truly world class spots exist to throw out your line. Additionally, some of the finest fishing guides and instructors can be found in the Catskills of Western Ulster County. But enough of that for now, I was talking about winter activity…
So how do you like your ice, Groomed or Un-groomed? This is the important question that you must answer and consider. If you are someone who as a child skated and then fell away from the sport through the years, or if you have never skated and would like the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful exercise, or if you want to have family member learn a great winter activity, skating is for you. The Ulster County Area has a wealth of surface water in lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, including a number of indoor rinks where the elements are less of a factor. If outside skating is for you, skating at the Mohawk Mountain House in New Paltz is a wonderful way to spend a day. If you are more inclined to try your hand indoors, the rink in Saugerties will provide instruction for any level of expertise in a controlled environment.
If you are looking for ways to spend quality time with friends and family, ice fishing may be for you. This segment of fishing activity has for the past number of years, been growing steadily. It has not hurt that the conditions to fish during that same period of time have been ideal for the fisherman/women. Yes women, whom have been responsible for significant increases in outdoor activity. (For women that are interested contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to get more information on the program, “Becoming an Outdoor Women.”) Due to the diversity of water bodies in the area, the variety of species to be caught can vary. It is recommended that if you are not familiar with a body of water, the ins and outs of fishing, or just want to touch up your technique, a guide is a good way to go. A few time honored tips on ice fishing. Always use the buddy system, remember the friends and family statement, dress warmly and get good equipment that will last the test of time, and that you will enjoy for many seasons through the generations.
Now Ice Boating is an activity that I myself have not tried, but this is the year that I test my sailing expertise on the ice! There is a long tradition locally of ice boating. This sport is over 150 years old and at one time was considered a bastion of the wealthy. The birth of the sport is centered right here in New York State, centered on the Hudson River. There are a number of clubs associated with this winter activity such as the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club, and access to the river for rides on the larger vessels or testing your metal with a single of your own can generally be accomplished from mid-January on. It would not be unheard of to reach speeds in excess of 90 miles and hour on a blustery day, so be prepared and dress warmly. You will find ice boating in the Athens area of the river, as well as Poughkeepsie, and in the Tivoli Bay.
Cross Country Skiing
So you want a work out this winter to keep you in peak physical form for the spring, then you will find no better sport than cross country skiing. If you find that you are unable to continue your bike riding in the winter months, this form of skiing will keep you sharp and in shape till the spring. Added to the fact that this is a wonderful way to work out, cross country is wonderful for the family and you can spend countless hours enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. There are a number of facilities in the area which will provide a variety of terrain challenges for the beginner to the more experienced skier. In Kerhonkson, you will find the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. There is the Mohawk Mountain House in New Paltz or the Mountain Trails in Tannersville. You may even try the Belleayre Mountain ski area to combine some trail time with some lodge time.
Down Hill Skiing and Snowboarding
Yes you could save up all your money and take the family to Breckenridge, or Stowe, or you could enjoy one of the almost dozen ski areas in, or within a short drive of Ulster County, which is a short two hour drive from NYC, no TSA pat downs required! Sure the western mountain have ample powder, and there are some impressive slopes to the Northeast, but if you are going to plan out a vacation, local can provide all the enjoyment you and the family need without breaking the bank. With the money you don’t spend, you could even think about purchasing that weekend place you have always dreamed about! Many of the areas provide a range of lessons and packages depending on your needs and experience on the slope. Hunter Mountain is the largest in the region and the nearby community of Tannersville and Hunter can provide some good entertainment after a day of skiing. One of the smallest is the Sawkill Family Ski Center in Kingston. Belleayre is very family friendly, and Catamount and Plattekill Mountains offer great vertical runs. You will find something for everyone and planning an excursion is as simple as dialing the phone or getting on line. What are you waiting for……
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