The fastidiously maintained slopes of Maple Ski Ridge beckon outdoor adventurers throughout the snowy season, readying skiers and snowboarders with lessons, equipment rentals, and day and season passes. On the lodge's four hills, instructors from the Schenectady Ski School guide budding snow pilots of all ages through the basics of skiing, snowboarding, and snowman combat, and the Burton Learn to Ride system assists new snowboarders in mastering downhill skills with specialized equipment. Inside a comfortable lodge, a crackling fire warms extremities and light fare and hot cocoa warm insides as outside, skiers sail down full-sized hills, try their hands at stunts on the terrain park, or glide up and down bunny hills courtesy of a surface tow. The lodge's dedicated staff supplements any meager precipitation with snow machines and bags full of frozen marshmallows, and all slopes undergo daily maintenance.
Like the bicycle cogs they frequently fine-tune, Plaine and Son’s highly trained staff works together to keep the business running smoothly. Plaine and Son has been expertly stocking and servicing bikes, skis, and snowboards since the 1960s. With cycles from brands such as Specialized and Trek and boards and skis from Atomic and Salomon, employees have a huge cache from which they help outdoor adventurers select the right gear based on riding styles or how many jet skis they plan to haul behind their bikes. Staffers also enlist the Specialized BG Fit Program and other fitting tools to pair riders with the right-size bikes. Once fitted, bikers can join in on Plaine and Son’s weekly group rides or enjoy free workshops in the store, which focus on biking basics such as how to mend a flat or jump the public pool blindfolded.
Frozen lakes, snowy hills, and warm ocean waves are transformed into arenas over which to slip and slide, thanks to the experienced instructors at Kite Club NY. During private and group lessons, they teach students how to strap into skis, snowboards, or surfboards, take the reins of a kite, and harness the wind's power. Kiteboarders learn techniques such as riding one-handed, leaping into the air, and even riding uphill.
Near the foothills of the Taconic and Berkshire Mountains, Pineridge Cross-Country Ski Area stretches across hundreds of acres of unsullied woodland, full of winding creeks, scenic views, and well-groomed tracks and trails. PSIA-certified instructors guide newbies through the graceful, gliding motions of traversing on skis or a snowboard, preparing skiers of all skill levels to safely traverse the 35 km of woodland trails during the day, or 4 km of lighted trails after the sun pops and sinks below the horizon.
The proprietor and chief guide behind Hilltown Wilderness Adventures, Marla BB, invites patrons to hitch their dreams of adventure onto the backs of her alaskan huskies for mushing, skijoring, and outdoor excursions in the Berkshires. Her hallmark attraction is mushing through both snowy hills and on dryland tracks—a unique offering for the region that has earned her attention from media outlets such as Mushing magazine and Animal Planet.
The skijoring and sled-dog school teaches novices how to captain a team of dogs either in a sled or on skis, which can give them give them a way to skip long ski-resort lift lines. Marla also leads day excursions through DAR State Forest, Chesterfield Gorge and Westfield River, and the Deerfield River Watershed, keeping bikers, hikers, kayakers, and bird watchers safe as she is a certified wilderness first responder and an expert in swift-water safety and rescue.
The resort at Pico Mountain has come a long way since it opened on Thanksgiving morning in 1937. It was a blustery day, and skiers held tight to a 1,200-foot towrope powered by a Hudson motorcar engine as they rose up the mountainside and tried to get reception on their rotary-dial phones. Today, the mountain is striped with 52 trails and seven lifts, including two high-speed detachable quads. Gentle learning terrain beckons newbies, smooth cruisers give intermediate skiers an easy ride, classically narrow New England steeps entice beginning and intermediate skiers, and a double-black-diamond trail challenges advanced athletes. Snowboarders and freestyle skiers interested in tricks can use the jumps, boxes, and rails in the Triple Slope terrain park, and the Snow Sports School sharpens the skills of first-timers and seasoned pros alike.
Although the resort has advanced in size and technology, it maintains a personalized, small-mountain charm. The trails all converge at one convenient central base area whose lodge boasts a sports center with a heated pool and a sauna. Guests can grab a beer and a burger or slice of pizza beside the crackling stone fireplace at the Last Run Lounge before retiring to their hotel room or condo.