Early snowfalls do wonders for ski areas in the Northeast, and the recent nor’easter fit that frosty bill, especially during COVID-19 when snow sports are suddenly safer than a dinner with friends at your house. (You’ll want to skip the communal areas inside the lodge, however.)
For folks who never invested the time and money to go downhill skiing or snowboarding but still want to chase away the winter blues, there are some good alternatives, too, in tubing, sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on Connecticut’s many trails.
Will Healey of the state DEEP said in an email to Hearst that “I have cross country skied in the past, and I can say it is a terrific way to get a workout in the wintertime. It’s very exhilarating!”
We’ll leave out ice skating this year, since it’s dangerous on unsupervised ponds, and indoor rinks aren’t all open during a pandemic. And even ski areas have had to make COVID alterations, as the CT Ski Areas Association recently explained.
Here are seven-plus locations for winter sports that are outdoors and are full of masks even when there’s no pandemic:
— Ski Sundown in New Hartford is open and has a Torchlight Parade on Thursday, New Year’s Eve. Lifts and trails are open from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., says Ulla Jacobs of Ski Sundown, followed by a “Torchlight Parade led by our Ski Patrol a few minutes before the clock strikes midnight. If you’d like to be part of the torchlight parade, practice will be held at 9 p.m. (two test runs down the Temptor trail),” she wrote in an email. Night lift tickets starting at 6 p.m. will be extended to 11:30 this night.
Ski Sundown is at 860-379-7669 or skisundown.com.
— Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular at the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail in Wallingford and in state parks such as Sleeping Giant in Hamden, Hop River State Park Trail in Bolton Notch State Park, which races a former railroad line through 20 winding miles of off-the-beaten track beauty, and Chatfield Hollow in Killingworth.
Go when there’s good snow cover so you’re not tripping over roots and sticks.
— Winding Trails Cross Country Ski Center in Farmington features 350 acres of woodland, lakes and wildlife and a cross-country ski center with snowshoe rentals for its trails.
“You can buy a trail pass and then use your own snowshoes or rent,” said a mother of two from Wethersfield who went after the recent snowstorm. “Also good sledding for its cross-country trails.”
See Windingtrails.org or call 860-674-4227.
— Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort in Middlefield offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing and synthetic snow, along with snowbiking.
Call 866-860-0208 or go to powderridgepark.com.
— Mohawk Mountain, in the foothills of the Berkshires in Cornwall, has 26 ski trails, seven ski lifts, snow tubing and snowgun coverage of most of the mountain.
Call 860-672-6100 or go to http://www.mohawkmtn.com.
— Mount Southington has been providing downhill skiing and snowboarding for a half-century. Easy to reach via I-84. Call 860-628-0954 or go to mountsouthington.com.
— White Memorial Foundation is the go-to place in Litchfield for cross-country skiing on 35 miles of trails over 4,000 acres. Call 860-567-0857 or go to whitememorialcc.org.