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Try Some Off-Beat Winter Adventures

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Skating, skiing, sledding: if you’ve lived in Upstate New York for a few winters or more, you’ve done them all. If the typical winter activities have worn as thin as your 20-year-old mittens, try these more unusual adventures.


Whether participating just for a day or for a season-long team membership, curling is a challenging winter sport. The ancient Scottish team sport combines elements of bowling and shuffleboard on a sheet of ice. Players try to advance their teammate’s “stone” towards the goal by sweeping a clear path on the ice. The opposing players take turns throwing their stones towards the goal with a side objective of knocking out opponents’ stones. Utica Curling Club in Whitesboro (315-736-1724, info@uticacurlingclub.com) can help you learn more and get involved.

Zipline riding

Although ziplines are spectacular for leaf peeping, they’re also a fun way to soar through the sparkling winter mountain scenery. While securely strapped into a safety harness, zipline riders get a bird’s-eye view, along with the adrenaline rush of flying through the treetops. At Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures in Canandaigua (https://bristolmountainadventures.com) ride seven ziplines measuring a total of more than 5,000 feet. At Greek Peak Mountain Resort (www.greekpeak.net), guests can take a two-line ziplining tour that lasts approximately two hours.

Fat biking

Avid cyclists or even occasional cyclists don’t have to forgo pedaling for the winter. Fat bikes are made to accommodate tires about 4” wide. They provide better grip on the ice and offer improved traction. They’re also good for sand and mud and softer mountain biking trails, so it’s not just a “winter bike.” Check out Murdock’s Bicycles & Sports in Oswego (315-342-6848); Syracuse Bicycle in Syracuse (315-446-6816); Advance Cyclery in Syracuse (315-449-2453); Mello Velo Bike Shop and Café in Syracuse (315-307-3104); Bike Loft in Syracuse (315-458-5260); and Cuse Cycle in Liverpool (315-453-6718).

Ride fat bikes anyplace open to bicycling, from bike lanes to trails.

Mountain coaster and bobsled riding

In your day trip or weekend at Mount Van Hovenberg in Lake Placid (https://mtvanhoevenberg.com), don’t forget about the mountain coaster and bobsled rides. The mountain coaster follows the path of the 1932 and 1980 bobsled path. The Bobsled Experience (open select times throughout the winter) also offers a thrill akin to those of Olympic athletes skimming along the bobsled track at speeds of more than 50 mph.

Dog sled

Traverse the ice and snow in classic style on a dog sled tour. Naturally, rides are weather- permitting and should be booked in advance. Adirondack Kennel near Sandy Creek (https://adirondackkennel.weebly.com) provides short rides. Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours in Lake Placid (www.facebook.com/thundermtdogsled) provides dogsled rides across the glassy surface of Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, as does Mike Arnold Dog Sled Rides (518-323-7622).

Ice fishing

Even if you’re not an angler during the warmer months, ice fishing can offer another reason to get outside during the winter. Ice fishing spots abound in the CNY area (www.dec.ny.gov/ outdoor/7936.html). Of course, ice fishing requires dressing in layers, starting with a moisture-wicking layer that’s not cotton and ending with a moisture proof layer, as with any other outdoor activity. But it’s also vital to wear cleats to improve stability and to bring extra pairs of gloves to always have a dry pair available. Ice should be a minimum of four inches thick for walking safely. For driving a snowmobile or ATV, it must be 5 inches. Vehicles require 8-15 inches.