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.