Long Island’s Best Spots for Outdoor Snow Play

Make the most of your next snow day at one of these 6 winter wonderlands for sled, snowshoe and cross-country ski outings.

Long Island may not be renowned for its mountainous terrain, but its hills can sure hold their own with a few inches of snow on the ground. From incredible sledding to wilderness snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, there’s plenty here to keep anyone busy on a snow day. Here’s where to go for family fun and a little exercises the next time the weather turns.

1. Bethpage State Park

Best for: Sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing 

Home to five golf courses, the nearly 1,500-acre Bethpage State Park is chock-full of hilly, open terrain—which makes it perfect for sledding. (Note that the park permits steerable sleds only, which means you’ll have to leave that unicorn-shaped pool toy at home.) You’ll also find several miles of trails where cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are both permitted.

2. Connetquot River State Park Preserve 

Best For: Guided snowshoeing and long outings 

With more than 50 miles of nature trails and 3,700 acres of protected land spanning either side of the Connetquot River, this park preserve is one of Long Island’s best places for deep winter exploration. If you’re new to snow travel, check out the park’s guided snowshoe tours, which let you meet up with a group, get to know the park’s natural history, and scout for animal tracks alongside a knowledgeable guide. More of a soloist? Download maps for free online and plan your own snowshoe or cross-country ski adventure. 

3. Bald Hill 

Best For: Sledding

One of the highest points on Long Island, Bald Hill was the site of a local ski resort—the Bald Hill Ski Bowl—until 1980. Today, the lodge has been repurposed and the tow-ropes have been removed, but sledders can still enjoy the same rush of rocketing down Bald Hill. You can park at the Long Island Community Hospital Amphitheater lot, which now sits atop the hill.

4. Muttontown Preserve 

Best For: Cross-country skiing and historic walks[Text Wrapping Break]

At 550 acres, Muttontown Preserve is one of the largest swaths of public land in Nassau County. That means miles of uninterrupted cross-country skiing—which is why it’s one of the go-to group outing spots for the Long Island Cross Country Ski Club. The trails are also open to snowshoers, as well as to hikers year-round (though many of the paths get quite muddy when the snow begins to melt). As you roam, be sure to keep an eye out for the historic buildings that dot the property. Near the north end of the park, you’ll see the elegant Chelsea Mansion. To the south, the ruins still stand of the fabled Knollwood Estate—once owned by the last king of Albania.

5. Cedar Creek Park

Best For: Sledding

A hilly, open, 250-acre swath of public land in south Nassau County, Cedar Creek Park is open to sledders January through February. Dogs are allowed, which makes this a great spot for the whole family—furry members included. Picnic tables provide an easy spot to take a break and crack open your thermos of hot cocoa, and adjacent Wantagh Park offers plenty of trails with waterfront views.

6. Caleb Smith State Park Preserve 

Best For: Wildlife-watching, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing

Winter is one of the best times to scout for wildlife tracks—and to lay some of your own. Bring your snowshoes or cross-country skis to Caleb Smith State Park Preserve to join its year-round bird-watching programs, or plan a nature-viewing loop of your own. On crisp evenings, you can spot white-tailed deer picking their way through the powder. And around sunrise, the trees are filled with birds foraging for breakfast. Extra credit: While you’re there, be sure to check out the preserve’s Nature Museum, located in a beautifully restored 18th-century home.

Where To Rent Snowshoes and Cross-Country Skis on Long Island

If you’re new to winter sports, you can always buy your own snowshoes or cross-country skis. (Buying new is the best way to ensure a perfect fit, though many second-hand sporting goods stores also offer great options in a more affordable price range.) But if you’re just looking to dabble occasionally, or you’re trying a sport for the first time and aren’t sure if you’ll like it, renting may be your best option. 

In that case, head to your local Public Lands store. You’ll find affordable rentals, as well as expert guidance on fit and features, plus more recommendations of places to go.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.