You can add history, art, geology when you hit the snowy trails
CAPITAL REGION Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing can keep you happy and healthy this winter.
But how about sliding some history, geology or art into your outdoor outing?
We’ve rounded up six very different places that you might want to explore.
They all have trails and magnificent scenery.
WHERE: Route 7A, Manchester Center, Vt.
WHEN: House and exhibits are open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Ski trails are open from 9:30 to 4 p.m.
HOW MUCH: Admission to house and trails is $16 for adults, $5 for youth. Ski rental package or snowshoe rental is $15. Visitors must check in at Welcome Center. No dogs allowed.
MORE INFO: Call 802-362-1788 or visit www.hildene.org, where you can see a trail map.
When Robert Todd Lincoln decided to spend his summers in Vermont, he built a home with a panoramic view of the Taconic and Green mountains.
Lincoln, the son of President Abraham Lincoln, called the 412-acre estate Hildene and set his Georgian Revival mansion far from the public eye at the end of a long road.
The 24-room house, which contains many of the family’s original furnishings and belongings, is open to visitors year-round. Abraham Lincoln never visited Vermont, but you can see one of his iconic tall black hats, and a bed that President Taft slept in.
Outdoors, there are eight miles of walking trails through woods and fields that connect the house to different tour sights, including the Sunbeam, a luxurious Pullman Company train car that moved President McKinley around until his death in 1901.
From mid-December to mid-March, when visitors come to tour the house, they are welcome to ski or snowshoe on those trails, many of which have spectacular views.
Group, semi-private and private lessons are available by appointment.
Olana State Historic Site
WHERE: 5720 Route 9G, Hudson
WHEN: 8 a.m. to sunset daily
HOW MUCH: Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are free. Guided house tours, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, are $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, free for children under 12. Reservations recommended, phone 828-0135.
MORE INFO: www.olana.org, 822-1877
Olana, the home of artist Frederic Edwin Church, is a National Historic Landmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Hudson Valley.
Church’s 19th century stone-and-brick villa is an unforgettable sight both inside and out, with its unusual blend of Middle Eastern, Moorish and Italianate architecture, decoration and artwork.
Church, who chose the site for its majestic views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, also designed the carriage roads that crisscross the 250 acres.
More than a century later, visitors are welcome to roam the landscape.
And this winter, there’s been more snow than usual.
“We are seeing lots of snowshoers and some cross-country skiers,” says Kimberly Flook, site manager for Olana. “Some snowshoe onto the property from nearby B&Bs, some drive here and explore.”
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
WHERE: 225 South St., Williamstown, Mass.
WHEN: Dawn to dusk daily. Stone Hill Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
HOW MUCH: Free.
MORE INFO: www.clarkart.edu, 413-458-2303
Most world-class art museums are in urban areas. In Williamstown, Mass., the renowned Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is known not only for its French Impressionist paintings, but its scenic 140-acre campus.
Locals and out-of-town visitors regularly ski and snowshoe on its walking trails. From the top of the Stone Hill trail, one can see the village of Williamstown and the snow-topped Green Mountains to the north.
As The Clark is currently undergoing the final stage of a major renovation and expansion project, the museum is closed until July 4.
But you can still see artwork from the collection, in a special free exhibit through March 23 at the Stone Hill Center, which is a short walk from the museum and has its own parking lot.
On the website, you’ll also find a continuing calendar of lectures, films and video, including opera performances from The Met.
Camp Santanoni Historic Area
WHERE: Route 28N, Newcomb
WHEN: Dawn to dusk
HOW MUCH: Free
SPECIAL EVENT: Winter Weekend, March 15-16
MORE INFO: www.dec.ny.gov, 623-1200 or www.aarch.org, 834-9328
Camp Santanoni is the grandest of the surviving Great Camps of the Adirondacks, and the only one that is publicly owned.
With cross-country skis or snowshoes, visitors can tour the property and marvel at the craftsmanship of the estate’s rustic yet grand log lodges. Santanoni was built at the turn of the 20th century as a private retreat for Robert C. Pruyn, a prominent Albany businessman.
While the carriage road is wide and the terrain is fairly flat, to reach the lodge at the end of the road and return to the entrance, a skier must travel 9.8 miles.
During Winter Weekend, March 15-16, visitors will be allowed inside two of the lodges, and Adirondack Architectural Heritage staffers will give tours. For this special event, there are free snowshoes and a warming hut. Reservations are not required.
Saratoga National Historical Park
WHERE: 648 Route 32, Stillwater
WHEN: Grounds open dawn to dusk. Visitors Center open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: www.nps.gov/sara, 670-2985
More than two centuries ago, soldiers fought and died on the rolling fields near Stillwater.
In 1777, with the American victory against the British in the Battles of Saratoga, the course of history was changed.
During the winter, visitors can ski and snowshoe on the battlefield, moving from historic marker to marker or just following the tracks of other skiers.
In the Visitors Center, a ranger will be happy to answer your questions.
The February exhibit is about African-Americans who served in the Battles of Saratoga.
Opening March 1 is a Women’s History Month exhibit about women’s fashions in early America.
Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park
WHERE: 535 Stone Bridge Road, Pottersville, 2.5 miles from Northway Exit 26
WHEN: Self-guided snowshoe tours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Guided night tour at 6 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: Snowshoe pass is $12.98 for adults, $10.98 for seniors (age 65), $8 for children 5 to 12; free for younger children. Rentals are $5; phone ahead to reserve. Saturday guided tours, which require reservations, are same price and include campfire, marshmallows and a hot drink.
MORE INFO: 494-2283, stonebridgeandcaves.com, where you can check trail conditions and download map
Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park is one of the geologic wonders of the Adirondacks, with a formation that is the largest marble cave entrance in the East.
During the warmer months, visitors from around the world come to the park for self-guided, above-ground walking tours.
In the winter, visitors can snowshoe on 12.5 miles of trails with views of frozen waterfalls, snow-swept sinkholes and, of course, the famous “natural stone bridge,” which is illuminated at night.
“This is our fourth [winter] season. We started with four miles of trails,” says Greg Beckler, who runs the park with his wife and children.
Your snowshoe pass is also good for free unlimited use of the park’s nine-hole disc golf course, which is set up for winter play.
Beckler’s family has owned this land since the late 1700s, when it was given to his relatives for service in the Revolutionary War.
The park’s history, from a sawmill site in the 1800s to a tourist attraction beginning in the 1940s, is explained on markers and exhibits in the park.