Canoes float under a sunny sky, kayakers speed along lush riverbanks, and standup paddleboards engage core muscles in adrenaline-pumping workouts. With dozens of watercraft for rent and sale, BayCreek Paddling Center's team brings aquatic adventures like these to life. Their staff members, which range from young enthusiasts to 30-year industry veterans, launch customers into Irondequoit Creek, where they can float amid an orchestra of bird songs and opera-trained fish. In addition to rentals, the staff guide activities. Aboard their various watercraft, certified instructors lead lessons and nature tours that wind through glacier-carved terrain and former Seneca Native American lands.
Twenty-one runs streak across the Toggenburg Mountain Winter Sports Center trail map, furnishing skiers and snowboarders with ample real estate to perfect swerves and test nerves in the crisp high country air. Five lifts—two doubles, a triple, and a pair of beginner rope tows—hoist snowy revelers to the top of runs such as the black diamond Oh My Goat, the blue square Angora Alley, and the green circle Capricorn Caper, as well as two terrain parks. Here, a gantlet of rails, boxes, and tables not only give daredevils the chance to show off their aerial acrobatics, but also provide a rough idea of what it would be like to wear skis into a furniture store. First-timers and skiers in need of a refresher can sign up for snow school, where expert instructors illuminate proper technique during private, semiprivate, and group lessons.
Off the mountain, Chilly Choices ski shop keeps skiers and snowboarders warm on the outside with hats, gloves, goggles, and apparel. Meanwhile the Foggy Goggle and Toggenburg Cafeteria keep them warm them on the inside with toasty eats such as braised tenderloin tips and pizza.
Floodlights replace the sun during nightfall at Four Seasons Golf and Ski Center, keeping the miniature golf courses and batting cages aglow for nighttime visitors. During the summer, guests can wind through miniature fairways that incorporate small-scale replicas of The Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, and the world's smallest caddies. During the winter, Four Seasons’ slopes welcome copious amounts of snow to facilitate skiing, snowboarding, and snowtubing. The newly renovated facility also hosts a game room and specialty ice cream shop.
Orenda Springs, when not engaging school and corporate groups in high-ropes teamwork exercises, spends its winters suiting up trail lovers with ancient methods of Nordic transportation. Before setting out, a helpful instructor will educate the uninitiated in the art of falling, staying upright, and untangling pole and ski knots, as well as ancillary techniques such as how to go forward. Armed with knowledge, technique, and sturdy rental skis, cast out into the wide snowy world of Orenda Springs’ serpentine trails and espy hardy snow-resistant squirrels and sentient snowmen within the serene snowscape. Triumph over minor uphills, straightaways, and gently gliding downslopes with the power of muscle, slim skis, and guidance from the snow goddess Skadi.
Voted the Best Place to Ski in the Syracuse New Times, Labrador Mountain boasts 22 trails, ranging from the beginner's Char Run trail to the expert Cut Throat, 14 of which are brilliantly lit for twilight tootsie sleigh rides. The mountain's sprawling 250 acres play host to a ski shop, a children's center, and a slew of dining facilities. Just 30 minutes outside of Syracuse, Labrador Mountain keeps its powder open to the public from December to April, and offers lessons for both kids and adults during the daytime hours. See the website for more information about season passes and rates.
Snow Ridge Ski Resort offers skiers and snowboarders 130 acres of snowy mountain terrain with 500 feet of vertical drop. Six lifts—including four double chairs, a T-bar, and a bunny tow—usher visitors to the top of 22 different trails. Skiers of all stripes will find terrain suited to their particular skill level, including healthy servings of green, blue, and black-diamond runs. A terrain park features a gauntlet of rails and boxes designed for grinding, jumping, and mid-air wardrobe changes.
The resort is also home to a PSIA-certified ski school, where kids as young as 3 learn the ins and outs of proper downhill technique through instructional games and props. For a snapshot of current conditions at the resort, check out the ski report, which includes information on recent snowfall, the percentage of open terrain, and the number of lifts in operation.