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It’s winter – time to plan for some fun in the snow. If you live in or near Monroe, Wayne or Ontario Counties, there are trails nearby that provide opportunities for a quick evening moonlit ski or a longer weekend outing. Here are 10 of my favoritesSnow Trails.

Monroe County
1. Mendon Ponds Park in Mendon has 20 miles of groomed trails for all levels of ability. The trails wind among the eskers, kames and kettle ponds of this glacially sculpted landscape. It’s a popular winter playground for avid skiers.
2. Powder Mills Park in Pittsford is another hilly park with 8 miles of marked, groomed trails.
3. For less hilly terrain, try Webster Park along the shore of Lake Ontario. It is the beneficiary of lake effect snows. Escape into the wilderness in the middle of suburbia on a myriad of loop trails.
4. Genesee Country Nature Center in Mumford is great for families. There’s a small entrance fee, but you’ll find 4.5 miles of easy, groomed trails, a warming hut, and restrooms. Plus you can rent skis or snowshoes on site.

Ontario County
5. Canadice Lake Trail parallels the west shore of Canadice Lake with gorgeous views for an easy 7.4 mile round trip. For more of a challenge, try the side loop trails up the steep hillside.
6. Cumming Nature Center is a week-end family favorite with amenities and equipment rentals. It offers 15 miles of groomed trails. There is a small entrance fee.
7. Skiers’ Mecca is Harriet Hollister State Memorial Recreation Area south of Honeoye Lake. This park sits at high elevation and promises snow cover when the rest of the area is barren. The 20 miles of trails are groomed by volunteers from the N.Y.S. Section V Ski League and are used for ski races. The trails wind through pristine woods and one trail offers a panoramic view north over Honeoye Lake.

Wayne County
8. Casey Park in Ontario offers a 1.8-mile round trip on a flat trail along the shore of a lake that formed in an old iron ore quarry. The more adventurous can continue around the lake on the hilly, narrow north shore trail with gorgeous views down to the lake.
9. Blue Cut Nature Center sits between Newark and Lyons. Here you’ll find 2 miles of easy trails through the woods and along a marshland. The trails are free, but don’t expect amenities.

When you head out to ski, it’s helpful to have a guide specific to winter such as the local guidebook “Snow Trails.” The guide describes which parking areas are plowed in winter, which roads remain unplowed and become part of the ski trail network. You’ll also learn how each trail is rated in terms of beginner, intermediate and expert runs, and which trails are too narrow and steep and are best left for adventurers on snowshoes.

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By Emeri Krawczyk, The Buffalo news, link to original article

A wise Zen Norwegian once said, “When the going gets cold, the cold don a Nordic sweater and head out into the wilderness to face their fear.”

Well, not really, but on a recent 13-degree Saturday, there I was in the middle of the woods, layered in winter clothing, overheating and absolutely drenched following a romp around the “blue” trail of Bristol Mountain’s Nordic cross-country area.

The Finger Lakes are just fabulous in winter and offer ideal One-Tank Trip opportunities like cross-country skiing. Even a total klutz like me in relatively good health can enjoy this activity that gets the juices flowing and comes without the terror of its downhill counterpart.

The Sig Other and I decided to take advantage of Bristol Mountain’s cross-country special at 11 a. m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For $35 per person, we got equipment (skis, poles, shoes), an all-day trail pass, and a lesson with the darling Angie Cannon, who believes in the “environmental and Zen aspect of the sport” rather than a high-power athletic point of view.

Our first order of business was equipment. Cannon explained the two types of skis Bristol rents — classic cross-country and “skate” skis, which are thinner, faster and require a different movement.

As beginners, Cannon equipped us “old school” with the wider classic skis. Arms raised, she measured us for skis (tips to wrist) and poles (to armpits). Mercifully, she didn’t make us step on the scale. Instead, she eyed us up for the right “camber” (the upward curve under the ski).

“For me, cross-country skiing isn’t just a means of exercise, Cannon said. “Its a way to reconnect with the natural world through a lovely rhythm that celebrates gentle movement, a calm mind, and a soulful sense of being one with the outdoors.”

After showing us how to step into our skis and hold our poles, she led us to the perfectly groomed trail — a wide path with two sets of tracks for skiers to follow and a packed area for the ski skaters or folks who prefer to ski outside the tracks.

Once we had the basic movements down, we headed to our first “hill,” where Cannon showed us how to stop by “snow-plowing” (bringing the tips of our skis together), and how to turn. While the gentle hills aren’t too intimidating, you still move pretty fast, and these skills are necessary to maintain control and balance.

For the uphill battles she showed us two techniques — a quick jog motion or shuffling up with skis in “V” formation, reminding us to use our poles to stop any backward sliding.

“If someone is really afraid to go downhill or is having trouble going up, I show them how to turn parallel to the hill and ‘walk’ down or up on the skis,” Cannon said. If worse comes to worse, she advises to take the skis off and simply walk.

After a while, we got the hang of it, and Cannon reminded us to look around at the beautiful surroundings: fresh pristine snow, a unique birch tree, birds and a big blue sky.

For Cannon, cross-country is not about speed, but about living in the moment and skiing the trail at one’s own pace.

“I think that people struggle with our long northern winters here, and getting out into forests and fields opens up our eyes to the presence of so much more life out and about,” she said. “You can find animal tracks everywhere, hear the calls of winter songbirds, see the greening of lichen on the trees and sometimes even catch a little vitamin D in the form of sunshine, which is always a good thing!”

Our lesson came to a close and our Zen master bid us farewell, leaving us to explore another trail.

Had we been up to it, we could have skied all day into the night, as one trail is lighted. However, after about another hour of skiing on our own, we were tired, hot, but absolutely gratified by our experience.

The Bristol Mountain Nordic Center is located at 5589 S. Hill Road, Canandaigua. Since it’s at the top of the mountain, you need to drive up, versus the bottom where downhill skiers can access the lifts. You can rent equipment, warm up and grab a snack in the center, but bathrooms are “nicer” port-a-potties outdoors. Cost for a cross-country trail pass is $10 (kids 7 and under are free with adult purchase); equipment rental (skis, poles, boots) is $14. In addition to cross-country, we saw downhill skiing and snowboarding. For downhill prices and information, visit www.bristolmountain.com or call (585) 374-6000. Eat, play, stay

The Bristol Harbour Resort & Restaurant, 5410 Seneca Point Road, has a lovely view of the lake. The fare is basic, but very tasty. Lunch is served late until 5 p. m., and then the dinner menu picks up, but still offers some sandwiches. We loved the bent wood chairs, fireplace and great bar you could hang out at and enjoy some Finger Lakes wines. We drove County Route 16 down Canandaigua Lake to Seneca Point Road. It’s a great way to see the beautiful frozen lake and gawk at the gorgeous lake houses that you might not see when the leaves are on the trees.

If you’d like to stay overnight, the Bristol Harbour Resort has nice ski/stay or ski/stay & dine packages. A cross-country ski and stay is $79 per person on weekends/double occupancy ($64 Sunday through Thursday) and includes your room and ski rental. Throw in dining and it’s $109 ($84.50 Sunday through Thursday) for the room, ski rental, a $55 dinner voucher, $14 breakfast voucher and bottle of Finger Lakes wine. Downhill packages start at $107. The room we checked out had a fireplace and warm Adirondack feel. Call (800) 288-8248 or visit www.bristolharbour.com for more information.

Directions: From Buffalo, hit the Thruway going east, take Exit 44 and follow Route 332 into Canandaigua. Ride is about 1z hour 1/3 . Add 20 minutes to get to Bristol Mountain Ski Resort or Bristol Harbour Resort.

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If you missed the Wild Water Derby in Shortsville this year, too bad. The years I did it, the temps were freezing or nearly freezing. This year was in the 80’s which, I’m sure, added immensely to the fun. Click here to see some photos.
Or here
for photos from previous years…here too.

Then, plan to attend, or maybe even participate next year.

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There were several times when Rich & I were out doing research for our two Take A Paddle guidebooks, that we’d drive to a waterway with all our gear loaded, with the intent of paddling a stream. Then we’d stand along the edge TAPfingerlakesSMALLand look in awe at the raging torrent before us and say in unison “we’re not paddling here today.”

Streams can change dramatically, taking on a whole new look and feel – like a chameleon. Placid moving water can become a torrent of fast current, rapids, and overflowed banks.  Spring melt can do it, and so can a recent rain.

I received an email message from Dave Walton recently, thanking me for the “Take A Paddle” book that led him to Canandaigua Outlet. However, the outlet he paddled was a far cry from what I paddled and described in the guidebook. In his shoes, I would have called it a day before launching. Especially on this stream, where access points are severely limited. If anything goes wrong, you’re far from help.

Here, in his own words, is what he experienced:

“I just completed the Canandaigua to Lyons run on the Candandaigu Outlet. Boy was that insane.. especially after all the rain over the weekend.  Not much has changed…but the water was so high, I’m sure I went right over many “low water” obstructions.

At the “football field” logjam the water was so high I actually floated around in an adjacent bean field. I camped at Cheerful Valley Campground. They graciously only charged me $15 for a 3×6 stretch of grass … no accouterments.  I went all the way to Lyons and pulled out at the NEW Rt. 31 Bridge. (on the southeast side).
Tho’ there are indeed several long spans of slow moving water after the campground, there are a myriad of challenging rapids as you approach Lyons. That caught me by surprise as it wasn’t documented in your book. A couple of the rapids were straight ahead but most twisted and turned.

Despite the stress, I had one comical encounter…I was coming to a rapid and seeing there was a left turn AFTER the rapid, I decided to stay left…the rapid didn’t seem as aggressive. So I determined to go that route. As I picked up speed, my whole canoe ended up on a huge concrete slab just a few inches below the water. I know…I know, … stop laughing.”

Paddling is great fun. Just be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Thanks Dave for sharing your experience and giving us a good laugh.

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