2012-01-11 / Schools / Briefly Noted / Coming Events Calendar

Fahnestock Winter Park: Let it Snow!

By Paul Kuznia, Director Taconic Outdoor Education Center & Fahnestock Winter Park

As winter begins, the thoughts of outdoor enthusiasts are focused on the weather. When the first Nor’easter turns up the Atlantic coast and heads toward Cold Spring, the Fahnestock Winter Park springs to life.

Many envision a downhill descent on a crisp sunny day in the mountains far away from here. However, there is another way to enjoy gliding through the woods right here in Putnam county. With its gently rolling terrain, the Winter Park is perfect for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. There are plenty of trails for all levels, from flat for novice to winding downhills for more advanced skiers. This makes the Park a favorite for families of all ages. The small inner tube sledding hill is fun for everyone, and there are even small tubes for the little ones.

Fahnestock Winter Park has opened up a whole new world to many who have never explored the winter woods or who have lost touch with the joy of playing in the snow. Nancy Ganswindt, of Garrison, recalls her first trip to the Winter Park back in 1998, as a ten year-old. “Let’s just say I was not a natural by any means, but it sure was fun!” To this day, Nancy still enjoys the park.

The beauty of the 15-kilometer trail system is hard to miss. Trails wind by forested hills, meadows, lakes and stone walls. The trails are mapped, machine groomed for skate skiing and tracked for classic skiing. Ski and snowshoe rentals, food and changing rooms are available, too.

For history buffs, trail names reflect the park’s past and its natural resources. The CCC trail name represents the period of FDR’s New Deal. During the 1930s, The Civilian Conservation Corps employed young men eager for work. Together they built Clarence D. Fahnestock Memorial State Park, along with other state and national parks across the country. The Mountain Laurel Loop trail reflects one of the most beautiful natural resources in the Park. Much of this scenic trail is surrounded by shrubs that retain their leaves all year, adding splashes of green to the winter landscape, and beautiful blooms in the spring.

In the Park, wildlife abounds. While gliding through the woods, visitors are often surprised by the tracks they see in the snow. Others are intrigued by how deer and squirrels create trail potholes in search of acorns. Ravens hang out near the Lodge and visitors are welcomed by their distinctive croak. Out of thin air a loud “Kik-Kikik-kik-kik” can be heard signaling the presence of a pileated woodpecker. Beavers have also made Canopus and Stillwater Lake their home—their engineering feats and antics can be easily observed.

New for this season are the plans to upgrade the Park, as a result of last year’s completed Master Plan for both Fahnestock and the adjoining Hudson Highlands State Park. The Parks were identified as a significant outdoor recreation venue for the mid- Hudson Valley. Plans are in the design stage now, and hopefully the renovation of the FWP Warming Lodge and Canopus beach bath house will begin within the year.

In cooperation with the Friends of Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Park, FWP held its 2nd annual Nordic ski and snowshoe swap. Proceeds will be used to purchase a new grooming roller and an outdoor fireplace.

Fahnestock Winter Park is part of the NYS Parks Taconic Region and is located in the northeast corner of Fahnestock State Park near the Taconic State Parkway at Route 301. It is open weekdays 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and on weekends and holidays 9:00am – 4:30 p.m., weather permitting. Gate closes at 5 pm. For more information, visit our website at: nysparks.com/parks/147/details.aspx or call 845-225-3998.



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