Situated in the Catskills off the Hudson River amid the scenic and varied beauty of Upstate New York, Ulster County is a four-season playground for outdoors enthusiasts of all stripes. Even in wintertime, this hidden gem of the mid-Hudson Valley is a wondrous land of opportunity for those seeking active adventure, whether it’s skiing or ice skating. Here are a few ways to enjoy it.
Climb up a mountain…
Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you like dangling from great heights, attached far above the earth only by some rope, a pulley, and a few carabiners as you ascend a vertical mountain face? If the answer is yes, Ulster County might be your favored destination. The mountainous county is home to two ranges—the Catskills and the Shawangunks—with majestic ridges, cliffs and boulders of all sizes and skill levels. Whether you’re an expert climber or a curious beginner, numerous services in the area offer training, advice and guided tours. Just plan according to the weather, know your limits, and seek advice from the local experts.
…Or snowboard down one
Dust off snow boots and slip into your fleece: Ulster County has some of the best snowboarding and skiing on the Eastern Seaboard. Don’t take our word for it: SnowEast Magazine readers more than once chose Belleayre Mountain—one of New York’s original ski resorts, opened in 1949, with 170 skiable acres—as one of the best, including in the categories of “Best Grooming and Snow” and “Overall Favorite Eastern Resorts.” If all goes according to schedule and the weather, Belleayre Ski Center, just off the Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway, should be open for adventure by the time you read this, but check online to confirm the schedule and to find season passes.
Traverse the snow with the whole family
If you’re looking for a more leisurely skiing experience, in addition to Belleayre, Ulster County also hosts half-a-dozen resorts that offer cross-country skiing, including Frost Valley YMCA, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Mohonk Mountain House, and the Mohonk Preserve. Families seeking an adventure safe for the kiddos can snowshoe or snowtube at the Hurley Rail Trail, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, or Lippman Park.
Practice your axel
Bust out the blades and head to the Kiwanis Ice Arena in Saugerties, where visitors can jump into a pick-up hockey game (helmet required) or drop in for a casual Stick-and-Puck session to brush up on your shooting, stick handling and skating skills. Take the whole family for a relaxing afternoon of public skating, or sign the little ones up for figure skating or hockey lessons. Find the full schedule of events, camps and lessons online. Public ice skating is also available at the Mohonk Mountain House Ice Skating Pavilion.
Bike across the county
From the casual novice rider to the experienced mountain biker, Ulster County offers numerous cycling experiences. If you enjoy a challenge, hit the rugged terrain of the Catskill or Shawangunk Mountain Ridges, where you can find numerous paths both on and off-trail—or take a more relaxed, guided day (or overnight) tour across the trails, where you can soak up the country air and admire the natural wonders as you pedal through the countryside. Along the way, stop and sample the local food and drink in the area’s picturesque towns and hamlets, and admire the historic colonial architecture.
Explore the trails
Ulster County is home to 750,000 acres of protected lands and 350 miles of hiking trails , ranging from leisurely day strolls to expert-level treks. Whether you’re looking to disappear deep into a wintery forest, walk along a mountain face, or amble down a chilly shoreline, Ulster County has the perfect trail for you.
In addition to outdoor adventures, Ulster County offers abundant cozy winter activities, from shopping to dining to myriad options for enjoying art, theater and local music. Explore more on ulstercountyalive.com and start planning your outdoor adventure today.