Make the most out of winter in the outdoors
It’s easy to stay cooped up inside when it’s 20 degrees outside, but you won't want to miss out on the snowy adventures you'll find in LivCo.
Going into hibernation as soon as the first flurries fly is tempting. Although it’s nice to enjoy the warmth of the indoors, winter is a beautiful time of year and there are so many activities to enjoy outdoors all winter. Winter offers opportunities to do things you just can’t do in the summer. Maybe try snowshoeing across a lake or grab some friends and go ice fishing, you never know what you'll discover. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors in the Genesee River Valley.
Explore the Outdoors
When the daylight shortens and the temperature drops, the Genesee River Valley transforms into a winter wonderland. Yes, it’s cold. But with pristine woodlands and rolling hills, even the warmest blooded among us turns into a winter lover. Travelers come from miles around to enjoy exactly what winter should be, an outdoor playground where adventurers head off on skis, snowshoes, and sleds alike, only to return and warm their fingers in front of a roaring fire.
Letchworth State Park
As if being home to one of the nation’s greatest state parks wasn’t enough, Letchworth State Park is open during the winter, and access is free to the public. Surround yourself with the beauty of cascading waterfalls and deep gorges as you stroll, drive, hike, or partake in winter offerings such as snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and snow tubing. Extend your visit by staying overnight at one of the lodging options open in the winter including the Stone House, the Swiss Chalet, and Caroline’s Cottage, all bookable at glenirisinn.com.
Harriet Hollister State Park
If you’re visiting for the first time, we recommend starting by making your way to the scenic view for a jaw-dropping overlook of the Finger Lakes region. Pack a bag with your favorite hot beverage in a canteen and strap your snowshoes on to begin your journey and get a lay of the land. Visit the park’s website for a handy map that categorizes trails by activity (Tip: there’s a designated snowshoeing trail marked on the map). After stopping at a picnic site to re-energize, grab your skis and head to your trail of choice (color-coded on the map by difficulty: easy, moderate, difficult). If there’s not a lot of snow on the ground in towns nearby, don’t let that stop you — the 2,200-foot elevation of the park makes for heavy layers of snow packed across the trails. If you’re still hungry for more outdoor exploration (and there’s daylight left), wrap up with a hike back to the car!
Choose Your Adventure
No winter trip to Western New York is complete without exploring the Genesee River Valley. You’ll be dreaming of these winter woods long after you leave! Our winter playground caters to all skill levels, from sledding enthusiasts to snowmobile lovers and long-distance skiers. Even the hot cocoa fans will find themselves putting on mittens and lacing up boots to not miss out on the fun!
Winter Trail RidingBack to Top of List
Horseback riding has a long history in the Finger Lakes, and with good reason – it’s the perfect way to get exercise, fresh air, and connect with an animal. Sightsee while you listen to the soft sounds of winter along the horseback riding trails of Livingston County along a trail ride at Letchworth Farm or Nunda Ranch, and appreciate the roots of the land through stories told by riding guides. Reservations for your reconnection with nature can be made online.
Hiking with MicrospikesBack to Top of List
If you’re the type who worries about going on winter hikes because of slippery ice and snow, there’s an easy solution at hand. With microspikes, your adventure becomes a walk in the park (literally) – and best of all, it doesn’t damage nature. Designed as a traction aid, microspikes make every step a safe and fun one, so you can enjoy looking at your surroundings entirely instead of watching where you walk. Buy the traction footwear at your local outfitter or retailer.
Ice FishingBack to Top of List
Surrounding yourself with a community of other ice fishers while sitting on a frozen lake, taking quick breaks for drinks and indulgent snacks, is really the winter version of tailgating. This inexpensive pastime is beginner-friendly and great for family bonding, socializing with your best buds, or taking a restful escape outside. Ice fishing is all about the process, so if you’re lucky enough to catch one of the more than 13 species of fish native to Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, and the DEC Office Pond, it’s cause for a celebration!
Fat Tire BikingBack to Top of List
There’s no need to halt outdoor activities once the temperature drops! With a fat tire bike, you can carry your love for summer rides to the winter. Chances are, many of your preferred trails are accessible in all seasons. Fat tire bikes are designed to traverse snow, allowing for a transformed, smooth ride. Once the snow melts, your fat tire bike remains an essential piece of equipment for riding any type of landscape – think mountains, sandy beaches, and muddy woods.
Winter Birding and Wildlife WatchingBack to Top of List
Some of the best outdoor winter destinations are also top-ranking for observing birds and wildlife in their natural habitats. Conesus Lake and the Conesus Inlet Fish and Wildlife Management Area are home to Tundra Swans, Canvasback, and Redhead that can be seen from overlooks; then continue your birding and wildlife-watching adventure by taking a short drive to MacKay Wildlife Preserve, which is home to various plants and species of birds.
SleddingBack to Top of List
Sledding can be a fun winter outing for the whole family, just be sure to get bundled up in warm, waterproof layers before heading to the hills. Get your sledding fix on the gentle hills of the Avon Driving Park, steeper hills at Starr Park in Leicester, or in Letchworth State Park where you can also enjoy hot cocoa and snacks at the trailside lodge. Be sure to check the weather beforehand and grab your favorite sled for your next outing.
Cross-Country SkiingBack to Top of List
Combining exercise, socialization, and time outside when the weather is cold can be as easy as cross-country skiing! Glide across thick layers of snow and observe the depths of land in the Finger Lakes. Choose your favorite park in the area (we know, how can you choose a favorite?!) and plan for a day of exploration. Several parks have trails perfect for an afternoon out, including Genesee Valley Greenway State Park and Letchworth State Park.
SnowshoeingBack to Top of List
If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to be weightless as you drift across freshly packed snow, it’s time to try snowshoeing. This 4,000-year-old activity makes for a leisurely outing, and our friends at Trail Otter in downtown Leicester can help you find snowshoes for a calorie-burning journey across the terrain – available to rent or buy!