By Paul Adler, Ilana Arazie & Gina Valentino
While Westchester welcomes the snowiest months of the year, we searched far and wide for the very best spots to enjoy winter sports in the region. From skiing and ice-skating to the leisurely pleasures of sledding and snowshoeing, we have assembled an exhaustive collection of the top spots to get your winter on, along with top-tier gear and seasonally themed eats to get you pumped for great days in the winter white.
Check out these six local mountains to shred some serious powder.
Tucked in the Catskills, this New York State-owned-and-operated mountain has a storied history. In the 1940s, skiers urged politicians to create Belleayre as a safe mountain for all to enjoy. In 1949, Belleayre began its first season and has evolved with new improvements to the facilities ever since. The mountain boasts 63 trails, eight chairlifts, 175 skiable acres, almost 9.2 kilometers of cross-country trails, as well as four lodges. There is a terrain park, two progression parks, multiple mogul trails, a range of intermediate to expert bumps, glade skiing, and a separate beginner area. Private and group lessons are available for kids, teens, and adults.
This mountain, located in Patterson, is family-friendly, with 22 trails, three chairlifts, and four magic carpets. Beginner skiers and snowboarders can glide down the gentle slopes, while the more advanced can be challenged by the handful of black diamonds. Known for its night skiing, Thunder Ridge offers discounted rates for students with a college photo ID for twilight and night tickets. For those looking to hone their skills, the mountain’s snow-sports school includes daily lessons and six-week lesson programs for tots, teens, and adults. Competitive skiers ages 8 to 17 can join the Thunder Ridge Race Team.
Looking to shred for a few days? Grab your gear and stay at Hunter’s resort — whether it’s at Liftside Village’s condos (slope-side at the base of the mountain), the Kaatskill Mountain Club, right at the top of the snow-tubing park, or the Pinnacle Condominiums. All accommodations have easy access to activities and deliver picturesque views and cozy amenities, like heated pools and hot tubs. The mountain itself features 66 trails, including plenty of greens and several double black diamonds, 12 chairlifts, freestyle areas of terrain parks, and 320 skiable acres. Hunter offers lessons in addition to an alpine ski team, snowboard competition team, and development competition freestyle program. The mountain is part of the Epic Pass (which includes access to national and international destinations for the season, including Vail, Whistler Blackcomb, Park City, Okemo, and Stowe).
Privately run Windham Mountain, located in the northern Catskills, features 54 trails, 12 chairlifts, and six terrain parks with more than 80 features. The ski trails are situated on two separate mountain peaks, known as East Peak and West Peak. Windham Mountain is home of the Adaptive Sports Foundation, which provides physically and intellectually disabled individuals with ski, snowboarding, and bike-riding lessons. Windham Mountain Resort offers a variety of accommodations, including inn rooms, condominiums, and private homes (Whisper Creek condos are ski-in, ski-out).
Privately owned and family-operated, Plattekill Mountain is nestled in the northwestern Catskill mountains. Featuring 40 trails, including two mile-long beginner trails and double black diamonds, the mountain has four chairlifts and one terrain park. For those who want to change up their snowboarding or skiing routine, Plattekill also offers snow tubing.
Family-owned, this ski resort straddles Hillsdale, NY, and South Egremont, MA, in the Taconic Mountains and Berkshires, respectively. Here, snow hounds will find an impressive 44 trails, eight chairlifts, 22 night skiing-specific trails, and terrain parks. Plus, the double-black-diamond Catapult trail is the steepest in the Berks. Of the mountain’s 44 trails, 16 are green, 18 are blue, and 10 are black. The mountain also has three wonder carpet surface lifts.
Ice sports and activities kick off their seasons now, and we are ready! From informal mall rinks to dedicated hockey organizations, sign up for any one of these fun hangouts, lessons, and leagues in Westchester.
For novice skaters, brush up on your stick skills during Sticktime at the Westchester Skating Academy in Elmsford. Although there are no scrimmages or games allowed, players can improve and practice their hockey skills. Private lessons are also available by appointment. All ages are welcome from beginner to advance players, and full equipment is required. Sticktime costs $25 per 60-minute sessions and $37 per 90-minute session. Check the online calendar weekly for Sticktime updates.
Murray’s Skating Center in Yonkers offers a Learn to Play hockey program hosted by the New York Rangers, where bona fide Rangers teach the next generation and sign autographs. The session takes place on February 19.
Westchester Warriors is an organization that uses its love of hockey to help others. It offers 11 ice hockey teams, at the “mite” to “midget” levels, which comprise those ages six to 18. These teams play in spring and summer tournaments throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic region at the A to AAA levels. The organization is currently raising funds for Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and has thus far raised $3,000 of its $150,000 goal to fight pediatric cancer.
Ice-skating is back in motion at Playland Ice in Rye. The rink holds public skate sessions on Fridays from 1:20 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. and Sundays 1:40 p.m. to 3:10 p.m., but make sure you register before you head over.
Get your free-skate on at Murray’s Skating Center on Tuesdays through Fridays 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Fridays 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturdays 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sundays 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $11 for admission, and skate rentals are $6. If you want a bit more structure and community, you may want to consider joining the figure-skating club.
For the first time ever, Ridge Hill has transformed its Town Square Lawn into an outdoor ice rink for the holiday season. Although walk-ups are welcome, reservations will ensure your skating time slot. The rink is open until January 29, and its hours are Mondays to Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
If you’re a purist and would rather ice-skate under the sprawling sky, amid the towering trees, check out Westchester County Parks. When lakes and ponds freeze over, ice-skating is allowed at Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, Mountain Lakes Park in North Salem, Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers, Twin Lakes Park in New Rochelle, and Wampus Pond in Armonk. To be safe, call ahead to check ice conditions.
Hudson Valley Hockey Company in Yorktown Heights sells skating equipment for the season and repairs them too. Pro tip: Owner Frank Vazquez Jr. says you should sharpen your skates every three to five hours of use.
Another fun and popular rink in Westchester is the Hommocks Park Ice in Mamaroneck, where visitors can enjoy the Friday Night Skate from 7:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. The Ebersole Ice Rink, located at Delfino Park in White Plains, is yet another skater’s paradise, offering public skating over the weekends and figure-skating lessons.
Want to curl up to a great winter sport? Look no further than this Ardsley gem.
While our county boasts only one primary spot for curling, it’s a doozy. Founded in 1932, The Ardsley Curling Club comprises an incredibly dedicated group of curling experts and beginners holding men’s, women’s, and mixed-league competitive games on an annual basis. In addition, the club offers instructional programs to get greenhorns started on the path to glory with its Learn to Curl classes. Plus, along with open-house sessions and private events, the Ardsley Curling Club offers kids’ programming as well.
If snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are more your speed, Westchester offers abundant opportunities.
Grab your gear and enjoy the calming winter air while gliding or stepping through the county’s sprawling landscapes and snow-capped vistas. One prime spot for those who love to explore atop a pair of skis or snowshoes is Croton-on-Hudson’s Croton Point Park. With 508 acres on a peninsula situated alongside the Hudson River, this popular spot boasts both superb views and plenty of historical significance.
The Kitchawan Preserve, a 208-acre natural preserve along Route 134 in Ossining, is a cross-country skier’s paradise, with the North County Trailway running across its eastern border. Those who snowshoe will find plenty of stonewalls, open fields, and dense woodland to explore.
Cranberry Lake Preserve in White Plains is also a superior location for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Cranberry Lake sports 190 acres of its own of scrubland, lakes, swamps, and a hardwood forest to traverse.
Finally, at 4,315 verdant acres, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is the county’s largest park and, as such, boasts plenty of prime spots to release your inner cross-country ace with well-maintained trails and varied terrain. None of these spots exactly your speed? You can find a full list of Westchester snowshoeing and cross-country skiing spots at parks.westchestergov.com.
Looking for a slightly less intense winter pastime? Grab a sled and hit the hills with the entire family at any one of these recreational wonders.
Wondering where you can sled or snow tube in the county? Your local public golf course is a great place to start, as many welcome kids looking to hit the hills. Yonkers’ Sprain Lake Golf Course and Dunwoodie Golf Course are both superb choices, as is Saxon Woods Golf Course in White Plains. In addition, Westchester County lists three local parks as amenable to snow tubers and sledders: Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Croton Gorge Park, and Lasdon Park & Arboretum. Keep your eye out: You may find a prime sledding spot at a local public school or municipal area, as well. We have a soft spot for Sleepy Hollow High School.
Break out that rod, put on your warmest coat, and get ready to serve up some fresh fish for dinner after hitting one these local spots.
Lodged between Cross River and Katonah, the Cross River Reservoir is perhaps one of the county’s most popular ice-fishing spots. Stocked annually with more than 6,000 brown trout, anglers can also catch bass and pickerel at this 915-acre ice-fishing wonderland.
Expect to find largemouth and smallmouth bass along with rainbow trout, yellow perch, and common carp at the Muscoot Reservoir. Just northeast of Katonah, this 1,263-acre watering hole is stocked with both brown and rainbow trout during warmer months. Similarly, Granite Springs’ Amawalk Reservoir boasts its own brown trout, bass, brown bullhead, and white perch able to be angled from its 564 acres of water (or ice).
And stocked each spring with 7,000 brown trout, it’s difficult to go wrong at Titicus Reservoir. This relatively shallow North Salem body of water has a 32-foot mean depth and is known for its supply of largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as chain pickerel, in addition to abundant trout. Yorktown Heights’ Mohansic Lake is yet another top-tier spot for ice fishing, with a more intimate 108 acres of waterways containing largemouth bass and chain pickerel, along with a few other species of fish.