Great Winter Hikes
Celebrate winter's frozen splendor in New York State! Hundreds of hiking trails on state lands take cross-country skiers, snowshoers and those seeking the sublime silence of walking through pristine winter woods past breathtaking scenery. Check DEC's hiking safety tips and head out to some of our favorite spots described below. Please note that without snowshoes or skis, hiking in deep snow can make even an "easy" hike very difficult.
In the heart of Manhattan, Central Park is one of the most enchanting places to enjoy a snowy winter day. This 800-acre swath of trees, meadows, streams, lakes and ponds is an inspiring combination of architecture and landscape design, with a surprising variety of natural habitats. A wonderful place for cross-country skiing, Central Park offers beautiful scenery for snow lovers.
Trails: The best places to ski are the Sheep Meadow, the Great Lawn and the park's other large meadows. Hike the park's 90-acre North Woods or 38-acre Ramble to evoke the feeling of woods in the midst of a metropolis. As you explore them, it's easy to forget you're in one of the world's most populous cities.
Surface: Paved paths
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: Overwintering songbirds, squirrels, rabbits
Getting There: Get directions to Central Park from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: Belvedere Castle, museums, theaters, dining, shopping and iconic skyscrapers
More Information: See www.nycgovparks.org/parks/centralpark and http://www.centralparknyc.org/ for directions, hours, park amenities and rules and regulations.
Livingston Manor (Sullivan County)
Lose yourself in the natural beauty of snow-covered rolling hills and forest in this southwest corner of the Catskill Park. Enjoy more than 40 miles of trails on cross-country skis or snowshoes, and take time to visit picturesque Waneta Lake.
Trails: Long Pond Trail is particularly good for youngsters and beginners, and the foot trails from the Frick Pond trailhead are especially suited to cross-country skiing. Snowmobiles are allowed on some of the trails, particularly Quick Lake Trail, so take care when cross-country skiing.
Surface: Most of the hilly but gentle trails originate from old logging roads.
Length: Frick Pond Loop, 2.1 miles (snowmobiles allowed on parts of trail)
Hodge Pond Loop, 6.3 miles
Quick Lake Trail, 7.2 miles one way (snowmobile trails intersect and share trail at points)
Long Pond Trail, 1 mile one way (snowmobiles also use this trail)
Level of Difficulty: Be sure to consider snow depth and trail length when choosing a route to match your abilities.
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: Black bear, white-tailed deer and wild turkey, beaver, fisher and coyote
Getting There: Get directions to Willowemoc Wild Forest from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: Catskill Art Society Arts Center and Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, both in Livingston Manor
More Information: Willowemoc Wild Forest
New Scotland (Albany County)
Each winter, thousands travel to this popular nature center near Albany to hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski around its 450 acres of snowy fields, towering trees, icy streams and frozen ponds. Guided and self-guided tours take you through scenic natural settings, where encounters with fascinating wild creatures are a routine occurrence.
Trails: The center lends snowshoes to adults and children taking the learn-to-snowshoe programs. Snowshoe rentals for use on the grounds are available for others.
Surface: Woodchips, gravel and asphalt, NOT cleared of snow in winter
Length: More than 10 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Some trails are considered accessible; however, snow is not cleared.
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: White-tailed deer, squirrels, cottontail rabbits and overwintering birds, including bluebirds
Getting There: Get directions to Five Rivers from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: Albany Pine Bush Preserve
More Information: Five Rivers EEC
Berne (Albany County)
High on the Helderberg Escarpment, the trails at Partridge Run offer scenic winter views of the Catskills. Snowshoers, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers travel through pine forests, past small lakes and streams. Some of the trails are part of the Long Path, a 343-mile trail from Fort Lee, New Jersey to Altamont, outside of Albany.
Surface: Old roads, mostly gravel and dirt
Length: Ten miles of cross-country trails (and 20 miles of snowmobile trails). A shorter hike is from the parking area at Partridge Run Rd. and County Rte. 6 around White Birch Lake to Fawn Lake.
Level of Difficulty: Easy, with some elevation
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: White-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, gray squirrel, fox, raccoon, and fisher
Other Activities: Birdwatching, hunting, fishing and trapping
Getting There: Get directions to Partridge Run from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: John Boyd Thacher State Park, Thompsons Lake State Park and Emma Treadwell Nature Center
More Information: Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area
Lake George (Washington County)
If you are looking for a way to introduce your family to hiking or snowshoeing in the Adirondacks, Buck Mountain Trail in Lake George Wild Forest is a great place to begin. The summit views are outstanding, offering vistas of nearby Lake George, Bolton Landing and the expansive Adirondacks. And you don't have to make it to the top to appreciate the beauty and solitude of the woods in winter.
Trails: Buck Mountain Trail from Pilot Knob Trailhead (Please note that, without snowshoes, hiking in deep snow can make even an "easy" hike very difficult.)
Surface: Wide, primarily flat woodland trail from the parking area to the first stream crossing at the half-mile mark. Trail becomes steeper and rockier from the first stream crossing to the summit.
Easy hike: From the trailhead at Pilot Knob, hike 0.2 mile to a junction with a blue trail that leads to Inman Pond. Continue on the yellow trail to a stream crossing at 0.5 mile. This is a good stopping point for those who don't want to climb to the summit.
Moderate loop trail: At approximately 1.2 miles, the yellow trail intersects with the red trail. Rather than take the yellow trail to the summit, take the red trail toward Inman Pond. At 1.6 miles, turn right/west at the intersection and follow the blue trail back toward the Pilot Knob trailhead. At 3.0 miles, the blue trail intersects with the yellow trail; head west toward the parking area (3.2 miles round trip).
Challenging summit hike: Follow the directions for the easy hike. After the stream crossing, follow the yellow trail to the summit (6.6 miles round trip).
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: Wildlife is scarce during the long Adirondack winters, but you will be joined by a variety of birds and may be lucky enough to glimpse a fox or fisher.
Getting There: Rte 87 North to Exit 21 for Lake George, Rte 9N. Turn right onto Rte 9N north. Turn left onto Rte 9N/Canada St. Turn left onto Rte 9L/East Shore Dr. and go toward the lake, taking a right hand turn onto Pilot Knob Road when the road splits. Follow this road for another 3 miles until you see a large DEC sign on the right side marking the parking lot for the trailhead. Get directions to Buck Mountain from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: Hikes in the village: Colonial Wars of Lake George and Lake George Historical Sites. Contact the Lake George Chamber of Commerce or visitadirondacks.com for more information.
More Information: Adirondack Trail Information
Newcomb (Essex County)
For a unique winter experience, join other cross-country skiers and snowshoers for three Winter Weekends/Open Houses at Camp Santanoni, a 19th-century Adirondack Great Camp. Snowshoes will be available for loan. Follow the carriage road from the impressive stone Gate House through dense forest. Warm up by the fire at the sprawling Main Lodge, and get a hot drink at the quaintly quirky Artist Studio, before heading back. Open Houses for 2014 are scheduled for Jan 17-20, Feb 15-17 and March 15-16, but trails are open year-round.
Condition/surface: Wide, smooth
Length: 9.8 miles round trip
Level of Difficulty: Moderate (Snow will be deep, so skis or snowshoes are a must.)
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: Blue jays, ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer, raccoons, eastern cottontail, red squirrel, black bear, coyote, beaver, eastern chipmunk and, occasionally, moose
Other Activities: Equestrian trails, interpretive programs
Getting There: Get directions to Camp Santanoni from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: A half-mile trail connects to the nearby Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb and its 3.6-mile trail system.
More Information: Camp Santanoni Historic Area
Towns of Rodman and Pinckney (Lewis and Jefferson counties)
Nowhere in the East gets more snow than the Tug Hill Plateau, and that, plus nine ski trails of varying length and skill levels might make Barnes Corners the snowsports capital of the state. Experienced skiers should not miss the Inman Glide and John Young trails, with their dramatic views of Inman Gulf (a 300-foot-deep canyon) and Rainbow Falls, draped in sparkling ice. Oak Rim Trail provides a similar vista for snowshoers only.
Condition/surface: Varies from level to gently hilly to challenging climbs and downhill runs. Be cautious following the rim of Inman Gulf. Snowshoers should stay to the side on skiing trails.
Length: From the NYS Rt. 177 parking area, Inman Glide Trail is included in a 4.3 mile loop; Oak Rim Trail is included in a 6.1 mile loop. Other trail segments vary from .6 to 2.5 miles; see link below.
Level of Difficulty: Varies; see link below.
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: Hardwood and conifer forests, gorge and waterfall. White-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare and, occasionally, bald eagles
Getting There: Get directions to Barnes Corners from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: Lewis County's unique events and destinations include a Snowkite Festival, a state park and the American Maple Museum.
Notes: Use caution crossing the main snowmobile trail between the parking area and the trails along Inman Gulf.
More Information: Barnes Corners Ski Trails
Catherine and Enfield (Schuyler and Tompkins counties)
Hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski to the top of Connecticut Hill and enjoy commanding views of the lowlands from one of the highest points in the beautiful Finger Lakes area in Central New York.
Trails: The Bob Cameron and Van Lone Hill loop trails are popular in winter, as is a significant section of the scenic Finger Lakes Trail that crosses the property.
Surface: Soil/forest litter
Length: Bob Cameron Loop - About 3 miles
Van Lone Hill Loop - About 6 miles
Finger Lakes Trail Section - About 8.5 miles one way
Difficulty: Moderate on snowshoes to difficult on cross-country skis, depending on elevation changes
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: Ponds, streams, forests, open meadows and fields provide winter habitat for ruffed grouse, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, beaver, coyote and a variety of smaller mammals.
Getting There: Get directions to Connecticut Hill from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: Watkins Glen State Park; the nearby towns of Ithaca, Watkins Glen, Corning and Elmira offer many wineries, museums, events and cultural activities to enjoy.
More Information: Connecticut Hill WMA
Dansville (Livingston County)
You'll enjoy the ever-changing scenery as you ski or snowshoe through mature woodland, overgrown fields, conifer plantations, old-growth apple orchards and open meadows. Don't miss one especially scenic route that enters from the intersection of Dannack Hill and Ebert.
Surface: Many trails have mild inclines/slopes.
Length: Trail lengths range from half-mile to 7-mile loops.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: White-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, grey squirrel, cottontail rabbit, woodcock, mink, beaver and raccoon
Getting There: From Dansville, take NYS Rte 436 to Shute Road and turn left. Take the first left on Walsworth Road, which leads to the area (winter access).
Nearby Attractions: Dansville hosts the Winter in the Village Festival and is located near wineries, ski resorts, the Finger Lakes and Letchworth State Park. Get directions to Rattlesnake Hill from Google Maps
More Information: Rattlesnake Hill WMA
Arkwright (Chautauqua County)
The only sounds breaking the silence of the winter woods as you trek through Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area will be the rush of icy tributaries and the whoosh of your skis through the snow. Throughout winter, Canadaway's 2,000 acres of steep slopes, meadows and dense forest are covered in a thick blanket of white, making it perfect for snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
Trails: The portion of the 19-mile Earl Cardot Eastside Overland Trail that runs though Canadaway is the most popular route.
Surface: Soil/forest litter
Length: About 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: Squirrels, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, foxes, beaver, muskrat, mink and raccoon
Getting There: Get directions to Canadaway Creek from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: Lake Erie State Park
More Information: Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area
Depew (Erie County)
Reinstein Woods is known as "Buffalo's Backyard Wilderness." As you snowshoe or ski around its nearly 300 wooded acres, you soon forget you're surrounded by suburban neighborhoods. Hiking trails take you through snowy forest, past frozen ponds and around marshes adorned in lacy hoarfrost.
Trails: The center offers snowshoe and cross-country ski adventures and rents skis at a nominal cost to visitors for adults and kids 10 and up. Snowshoes are available for very small children through very large adults.
Surfaces: Crushed stone, soil/forest litter. Most trails are considered accessible; however, snow is NOT cleared in winter.
Length: More than 3 miles of open trails
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: White-tailed deer, muskrat, cottontail rabbits, squirrels, pileated woodpeckers, wild turkeys and other overwintering birds
Getting There: Get directions to Reinstein Woods from Google Maps
Nearby Attractions: One of the world's great natural wonders, Niagara Falls is nearby in addition to the City of Buffalo. Niagara Falls State Park
More Information: Reinstein Woods EEC