WHETHER YOU TRAVEL BY SNOWSHOES, SKIS, SKATES, OR SNOWMOBILE, CHECK OUT THE ULTIMATE GUIDE ON HOW TO ENJOY THE GREAT OUTDOORS IN LIVINGSTON COUNTY THIS WINTER.
Once those first snowflakes start falling, LivCo transforms from a fall-foliage getaway destination into a quintessential winter wonderland. The perfect winters that you perhaps remember from your childhood, or that you’ve seen in movies but never experienced for yourself? That’s what LivCo is all about this season.
Think pristine blankets of snow covering the landscapes, gentle snowfall casting our cheerful downtowns in a holiday glow, families heading out to enjoy the ample winter weather outdoor activities, and then returning to a cabin or charming inn for hot cocoa next to a roaring fire. Winter doesn’t get any better than this.
So how can you create these winter memories with your family? It all starts with a little prep work — and then you can dive right into the fun.
BE PREPARED FOR YOUR WINTER ADVENTURES
There’s nothing that can ruin a great day of skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or otherwise quite like a lack of preparedness. Just because it’s cold outside, it doesn’t mean you have to be cold as well! With the right gear and foresight, you can stay toasty warm even when the temperatures drop.
Before you embark on your day spent in the snow, be sure that you’re dressed in a base layer designed to keep you warm (you can purchase these layers at your local sporting goods store); a mid-layer of clothing to also keep you warm while still letting any sweat evaporate; and a top, protective layer, which will usually be your winter coat, preferably waterproof, and snow pants.
For your extremities, you’ll want thick socks, mittens and ear coverings — again, go for winter-ready gear that will allow your skin to breathe while still keeping you toasty. The last thing you want to wear in the snow? Jeans! Once jeans get wet, they stay wet, leaving you cold and weighed down by soppy denim all day long.
All suited up? Here are tons of outdoor winter activities to fill your days.
Snowshoeing at Letchworth State ParkBack to Top of List
Letchworth State Park is simply gorgeous any time of year. It’s renowned for its waterfalls and gorges, and attracts travelers with its hiking and fall foliage. However, when the falls freeze over and the trails go snowy, that doesn’t mean you can’t visit. Strap on some snowshoes and see the sights in a new way!
Rent snowshoes at Trail Otter, an outdoor sports store and outfitter in Leicester, and then hit the trails. Snowshoeing requires a learning curve but is plenty easy once you get the hang of it. Just be sure you stay on designated hiking trails and away from cross-country ski trails, and leave your snowshoes on during your entire excursion. Taking them off can leave large holes in the snowy trail, which
can injure other visitors.
Already explored Letchworth State Park? You can snowshoe anywhere on DEC lands, as long as there’s snowpack. Other local snowshoe favorites include the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park, Stony Brook State Park, Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area, and MacKay Wildlife Preserve.
Ice fishing on Conesus LakeBack to Top of List
Conesus Lake is an outdoor recreation hub all year round. The westernmost Finger Lake, it beckons travelers from around the world with its boating and fishing in the summer and then continues to attract with its ice fishing in the winter.
If you want to give ice fishing a try, do note that this activity is safe only when the lake is completely frozen over, which sometimes isn’t until later in the winter season. For the latest information on conditions and to ask questions or get tips regarding ice fishing on Conesus Lake, consider joining the Conesus Lake Ice Fishing Facebook Group ahead of your trip.
Sledding at LivCo locals’ favorite sledding hillsBack to Top of List
Prefer your snow day to be filled with more thrills than exertion? Grab your sled and head out for adrenaline-pumping turns down some of the local favorite sledding hills.
Letchworth State Park has a few suitable sledding spots on its south side. Use the Perry Entrance and you’ll easily find a place to give it a go. Conveniently, the nearby Trailside Lodge offers hot cocoa to warm you up once you’re done.
In Leicester, Starr Park features a steep hill behind the local Presbyterian Church, near the corners of Main Street and York Road. For lots of hills and space to sled, head over to the Avon Driving Park.
Cross-country skiing throughout the countyBack to Top of List
Like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing is another winter alternative to hiking that allows you to enjoy the winter landscapes in a whole new way. You’ll need skis, boots, and poles, all of which you can rent at Trail Otter in Leicester. Then, just take a few minutes to get acclimated, and off you go!
You can find a plethora of cross-country ski trails on DEC lands and local favorite spots for cross-country skiing include the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park, Stony Brook State Park, Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area, and MacKay Wildlife Preserve.
Just before you head out on a trail, make sure that trail is designated for cross-country skiing, so you know it’s a safe choice. Additionally, note that some trails are one-way only, so look for signage to guide you. Lastly, remember to practice good trail etiquette; downhill skiers have the right of way (they’re going faster, after all!) and if you fall and leave an indent in the snow, smooth it over so as not to trip other skiers that come behind you.
Ice skating in AvonBack to Top of List
While you might not be able to ice fish until conditions are just right, you can ice skate well before the lakes completely freeze over thanks to a brand-new artificial ice rink at Avon Driving Park. You can rent skates of all sizes at Sulphur Springs Ice Rink, which is open every day, rain or shine, from dawn to 10 p.m., December to March.
Snowmobiling through the Genesee River ValleyBack to Top of List
There are plenty of snowmobile-friendly trails you can take throughout LivCo, including at the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park, Stony Brook State Park, Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area, and MacKay Wildlife Preserve. If you do plan to snowmobile, be sure to stay safe, particularly when passing through mixed-use areas. Go slow, stay on the trail, and enjoy the views!