Your Guide to Getting Outside in an Unpredictable Finger Lakes Winter

02/08/2024
Originally published at GoFingerLakes.org

Conditions in the Finger Lakes this winter have kept us guessing what outdoor activity is best on any given day. Fortunately, recreational opportunities abound in state parks and forests, nature centers, and rail trails, no matter what the weather brings. If you are not sure whether to use your cross-country skis or your hiking shoes, check out this versatile list of activities and locations chosen by the staff at the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Just be sure to check the forecast first.

People standing on the edge of a gorge with a frozen waterfall in winter
Photo: Nigel Kent

Winter Hiking with Waterfalls

If hiking through a snow-covered landscape while breathing in cool, refreshing air and marveling at beautiful waterfalls is your idea of fun, the Finger Lakes region is the place to be. While most gorge trails are closed in winter for safety reasons, there are still many locations to discover. Here is a list of places where hikers can enjoy winter waterfall scenery.

Labrador Hollow Unique Area

Letchworth State Park

Keuka Outlet Trail

Taughannock Falls State Park

Two people cross-country skiing
Photo: Nigel Kent

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing in the Finger Lakes is a great way for people of all skill levels to enjoy the beauty of the season. From technical terrain in state forests to groomed trails and more, there’s something for everyone.  See our top ski spots!

Bear Swamp State Forest

Harriet Hollister Spencer Recreation Area

Highland Forest

Cumming Nature Center

More Locations

Bear tracks in snow
Photo: Hannah George

Animal Tracking

You can find animal tracks and signs in many places throughout the year; however, there is something magical about looking for them in the snow. Plenty of creatures are actively searching for food in winter and leave behind clues about their behavior. Locations with diverse habitats including fields, forests, creeks, and ponds will produce interesting finds. Here are some locations that fit the bill.

High Tor Wildlife Management Area

Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve

Tanglewood Nature Center

Wesley Hill Nature Preserve

People riding bikes in the snow
Photo: Nate Hunter

Fat Biking

Yes, you heard that right—fat bikes. No need to wait for optimal trail conditions when you can ride through snow, mud, sand, and other loose terrain. Fat bike tires have a large surface area, providing more traction, stability, and weight dispersal, perfect for slippery environments. So, no more dreaming of dry trails all winter long. Saddle up and ride at these popular spots where small groups of ambitious bikers are sure to be found.

Shindagin Hollow State Forest

Green Lakes State Park

Morgan Hill State Forest

A snow covered trail in the woods
Photo: Brian Maley

Favorite Hikes on the Finger Lakes Trail

Over 950 miles long and covering some of the most scenic land in New York, the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) system runs from Allegheny State Park on the Pennsylvania border to the Catskill Forest Preserve. Here in the Finger Lakes region, there are a few hikes along the FLT that really stand out, including hikes that pass through Finger Lakes Land Trust nature preserves, NY state forests, and county parks. We invite you to explore some of the best.

Birdseye Hollow State Forest

Danby State Forest

Finger Lakes National Forest

More locations

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