Sledding, snowshoeing and more wintry fun in the Hudson Valley

Alexandra Blum, 9, of Nanuet plays in the Alexandra Blum, 9, of Nanuet plays in the snow at Highview Elementary School in Nanuet. (Feb. 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

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Mother Nature has hit the region with another winter storm, but instead of complaining about the cold weather and growing bored indoors, why not go outside and have some fun?

One of the perks of living in the Hudson Valley is a lot of wide open space, and, subsequently plenty of prime spots to go sledding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and more. So bundle up the kids, grab your snow gear and hit the road: Here are our picks for spending a day in the winter wonderland.

SLEDDING

Whether you're taking the kids sledding for the first time or are a seasoned pro, here are some popular spots in the region, many which also offer cross-country skiing and other winter fun, too.

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Yorktown Heights: A virtual winter wonderland, you can sled, go ice fishing, ice skate, snowshoe, cross country ski and snowmobile at this state park. For those looking to sled, there are multiple hills open to visitors, with signs pointing the way to the best spots. Access to the park is free; snowmobiles are required to sign in through the front desk. Info: 2957 Crompond Rd., Yorktown Heights; 914-245-4434; nysparks.com/parks/148/amenities-activities.aspx

Fahnestock Winter Park in Cold Spring: Located within the 16,000 acre Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park in Carmel, this is the perfect snow day destination in Putnam County. Up at an elevation of 1,100 feet, the park captures a good deal of snow during storms. In addition to sledding, there's snow tubing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

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For skiers and snowshoers, there are 15K of groomed, tracked and mapped trails. Skis, sleds, and snowshoes are also available to rent in the warming lodge, which also offers food, beverages (like hot chocolate) and restrooms. There's even an outdoor fireplace. The winter park is open weather permitting weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekends from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A sledding pass is $3; trail passes are $6-$9; tubing is $4 an hour. Call ahead to for snow conditions and to inquire about rental availability and pricing. Info: 75 Mountain Laurel Lane, Cold Spring; 845-225-3998; nysparks.com/parks/147/details.aspx. Clarence Fahnestock State Park is at 1498 Route 301 in Carmel; 845-225-7207; www.nysparks.com/parks/133/details.aspx.

Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River: This 4,315-acre park, the largest in Westchester County, offers activities to fulfill most of your snow day needs. In addition to sledding, there are 35 miles of marked trails perfect for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Admission to the park is $10 for nonresidents and those without a park pass, and $5 for visitors with a Westchester County park pass. Info: Route 35 and 121 South, Cross River; 914-864-7317; parks.westchestergov.com/ward-pound-ridge-reservation

Croton Gorge Park in Cortlandt: As long as there's snow on the ground, Croton Gorge Park is open and ready for sledders and cross country skiers. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk; no admission fees or park pass required. Info: Route 129, Cortlandt; 914-827-9568; parks.westchestergov.com/croton-gorge-park

Rockefeller State Park in Pleasantville: This 1,400-acre state park, open daily from dawn to dusk, offers sledding hills as well as trails for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Sledding hills are located by the Rockwood Hall Area. There's no fee to enter the park during the winter months. Info: 125 Phelps Way, Pleasantville; 914-631-1470; nysparks.com/parks/59/details.aspx

Ben Franklin Elementary School in Yorktown Heights: When school is out for a snow day (or when it's a snowy weekend), you'll find dozens of kids on the grounds of this Yorktown Heights elementary school. That's because the hill on the side of the property is an excellent location for sledding. Big and steep, sledders can gather a lot of speed and stay safe, as the hill ends in a wide open field far away from trees. In fact, the only negative thing about this steep hill may be the exhausting walk back to the top. Although the school is technically on private property, you're generally OK as long as school isn't open. Info: 3477 Kamhi Dr., Yorktown Heights

Gedney Park in Millwood: This 126-acre New Castle park is a popular sledding spot with both a small hill for beginners and a larger, steeper and often icier slope for experienced sledders. Info: Route 133, Millwood; 914-238-3909; www.mynewcastle.org

Downing Park in Yorktown Heights: The hill in Yorktown's Downing Park is not especially big, which makes it an immensely popular spot to take the younger kids sledding. The hill is short and wide, which means a lot of people can sled at once without worrying about colliding or gaining too much speed. The hill ends in a landing far away from obstacles, so it's perfect for first timers. Info: Route 202, Yorktown Heights; 914-245-4650

More sledding spots: These sledding spots, many of them located on private property, are where locals head when there's snow on the ground. Sled at your own risk.

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• Ardsley Middle School: 700 Ashford Ave., Ardlsey

• 17th hole of Lake Isle Golf Course: Lake Isle Park, 660 White Plains Rd., Eastchester

• Veteran's Memorial Park: 81 Hunt Rd., Orangeburg

• Knollwood Country Club: 200 Knollwood Road Extension, Elmsford

• Harvey School: 260 Jay St., Katonah

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• Davenport Park: Davenport Avenue, New Rochelle

• Rye Golf Club: 330 Boston Post Rd., Rye

• Pelton Park: McLean and Van Cortlandt Park Avenue, Yonkers

SNOW TUBING

These parks offer facilities great for snow tubing, in addition to other snowy sports.

Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery: If you want to give snow tubing a try, this Orange County park is the place to go. There are 12 lanes for tubing, two cable tows for return up the slope, specially designed tubes and stadium lighting for evening sessions. A few rules to know before you go: You must be 42 inches tall to ride and only one person is allowed per tube. Snowtubing is open from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and holidays. A 90-minute session costs $13 per person for Orange County residents (proof of residence required), and $18 per person for nonresidents. You can reserve in advance or buy a ticket on-site at the recreation center's front desk. The park also offers free sledding (on one hill), ice skating and cross country skiing. An on-site restaurant is open with food and beverages. Info: 211 State Route 416, Montgomery; 845-457-4910; www.orangecountynyparks.com

Sawkill Family Ski Center in Kingston: This little winter recreation center, which prides itself on its terrain's unique suitability for tubers, snowboarders and novice skiers, is in the Catskill Mountains, not far from Woodstock. There are five tubing runs open to tubers 42 inches or taller. Tubing costs $15 for one hour, $20 for two hours or $30 for three hours. Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the center also offers combination ski/snowboard or tube full and half-day prices. Info: 167 Hill Rd., Kingston; 845-336-6977; sawkillski.com

Fahnstock Winter Park in Cold Spring: See description under sledding. Tubing is $4 an hour. Info: 75 Mountain Laurel Lane, Cold Spring; 845-225-3998; nysparks.com/parks/147/details.aspx

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING AND SNOWSHOEING

Most places where cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is offered depend on natural snowfall. In addition to venues listed above that also offer trails for skiing or snowshoeing, here are some additional spots, listed in alphabetical order, to give these snowy sports a try.

It's important to note that many of these places have marked trails, but some do not. Skiers and snowshoers must own their own supplies to get started, too, although Overlook Mountain Bikes in Woodstock (93 Tinker St., Woodstock; 845-679-2122; www.overlookmountainbikes.com) and Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Kerhonkson (info below) rents snowshoes for $15 per day. Call ahead for information on conditions, hours and pricing.

Bear Mountain State Park: Seven Lakes Dr., Bear Mountain; 845-786-2701; nysparks.com/parks/13/getting-there.aspx

Belleayre Mountain in Pine Hill: There are about 9K of trails for cross-country skiers, none of which are groomed or patrolled. There's a map of the trails available online. Downhill skiing and snowboarding is also available. Info: Belleayre Mountain Road, Pine Hill; 845-254-5600; www.belleayre.com

Bronx River Pathway: From Yonkers to Valhalla; 914-723-4058; parks.westchestergov.com/historic-sites/bronx-river-parkway

Cranberry Lake Preserve in White Plains: 1609 Old Orchard St., North White Plains; 914-428-1005; parks.westchestergov.com/cranberry-lake

Harriman State Park: Bear Mountain; 845-786-2701; nysparks.com/parks/145/details.aspx; ice fishing also offered

Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Highland: Old New Paltz Road, Highland; 845- 691-8151; www.hudsonvalleyrailtrail.net

Kitchawan Preserve in Ossining: 712 Kitchawan Rd., Ossining; 914-231-4500; parks.westchestergov.com/kitchawan-preserve

Mills Norrie State Park in Staatsburg: 9 Old Post Rd., Staatsburg; 845-889-4646; nysparks.com/parks/171/details.aspx; there are also snowshoeing trails at the park

Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Kerhonkson: 5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson; 845-255-0752; nysparks.com/parks/127/details.aspx; there are also snowshoeing trails at the park and snowshoe rentals for $15 per day.

Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz: Day trippers or overnight guests at Mohonk Mountain House can cross-country ski or snowshoe (weather permitting). Rentals are available for both and fees apply. You can try disc golf in snowshoes, too, or go ice skating. Info: 1,000 Mountain Rest Rd., New Paltz; 845-255-1000; www.mohonk.com

Mountain Lakes Park in North Salem: Hawley Road, North Salem; 914-864-7312; parks.westchestergov.com/sal-j-prezioso-mountain-lakes

Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park in Dobbs Ferry: 15 Walnut St., Dobbs Ferry; 914-693-5259; nysparks.com/parks/96/details.aspx; there are also snowshoeing trails at the park

Rockland Lake State Park in Congers: Congers; 845-268-3020; nysparks.com/parks/81/details.aspx; ice fishing also available

Walkill Mountain Rail Trail in New Paltz: 12.2 miles of trails (maps available online) available for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Info: New Paltz; www.gorailtrail.org

DOWNHILL SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING

There are six main Hudson Valley ski areas catering to a wide range of skill levels. Many of these local resorts offer family-friendly perks, like ski lessons for the tiniest of tots, children's activities and baby-sitting services. Find the complete list of ski spots and all relevant information here.

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