In a state that’s flatter than a Grotto Pizza box, we’re lucky to live within a few hours’ drive of winter sports excitement. Shake off the winter doldrums with an adrenaline rush down a mountain. Here are just a few favorite spots to enjoy some fun on the slopes.
Despite its reputation as a physically grueling pursuit, cross-country skiing is akin to “walking, but sliding.” So says Hans Karlsen, owner of the longtime favorite Cross Country Ski Center (three-hour drive to 1480 Route 23, Sussex, New Jersey), which is spread across state parkland and represents the Garden State’s only professionally maintained and groomed cross-country skiing trail.
At 1,600 feet above sea level—the state’s literal high point— the snow comes earlier and lasts longer than other spots on the map nearby. With new equipment for rent, great views of three different states, and peaceful trails through hollows that filter out of the wind, High Point is a breathtaking retreat in the shadow of High Point Monument, dedicated to New Jersey’s veterans. Locals know to visit from Tuesdays through Thursdays when smaller crowds get to experience tranquil night skiing.
Head a bit farther north to a town once frequented by loggers and trappers and explore the Catskill Mountains in a snow-globe atmosphere while navigating hemlock-shaded trails in the forest. Mountain Trails Cross Country (four-hour drive to Mountain Trails Cross Country, 6198 Main St., Tannersville, New York) is an eminently affordable mountain escape—just S20 for a day pass, $20 for equipment rental—with a host of bed-and-breakfasts dotting the area.
Camelback Snowtubing (two-hour drive to 107 Resort Drive, Tannersville, Pennsylvania; 570-629-1661) relishes the idea that a big rubber inner tube is indeed, sometimes, the most fun way down a mountain. The well-known ski resort pays just as much care to its 40 lanes of dedicated tubing trails. Magic carpet-style lifts carry tubers up the incline fast to maximize runs during two-hour sessions. Consider booking after dark, when the lanes light up and transform into glowing “galactic” snowtubing.
The tube park at Liberty Mountain Resort (formerly Boulder Ridge) recently underwent a major face-lift for this season, thanks to a partnership with Bubly sparkling water. The new tube park features redesigned tubes and whimsical wayfinding signage.
Covered in slick, manmade snow, the tubing lanes at Iron Valley Tubing (1.5-hour drive to 201 Iron Valley Drive, Lebanon, Pennsylvania; 717-279-7409) are famously fast. The food and drink options at this converted golf course are country club quality at the rustic outdoor Miner’s Pub.
Once the greens turn white for the winter, families travel in droves to AvalancheXpress (1.5-hour drive to 2700Mount Rose Ave., York, Pennsylvania; 717-755-0123), on the site of Heritage Hills Golf Resort. Stay relaxed and horizontal while the tubing lift gently guides you up the 80-foot hill— before you spill down again for another of countless runs.
Through April, hop on a guided tour and rip around snowy mountain trails in a rented snowmobile at Rip Van Winkle Ranch (four-hour drive to 5305 NY-23A, Haines Falls, New York). Delaware State Forest (three-hour drive to Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania; 570-895-4000) maintains nearly 115 miles of snowmobile trails open to the public with options for both long and short rides. Allegheny National Forest (five-hour drive to Marienville, Pennsylvania; 814-927-5700) connects with a network of other forestland to comprise 360 miles of trails, including the 114-mile Allegheny Snowmobile Loop. With some of the highest elevations in the state, the scenery and the snow are abundant.