If you have looked outside your dorm room or drove to school it’s no surprise that it is already March and there is no end in sight to snowfalls pummeling our city. Luckily for us, though, being a student in Western New York offers many options for winter activities, including sledding, downhill skiing and ice skating to name a few.
As a Buffalo native, I can tell you that each are pretty fun and worth checking out at least once (however I cannot speak much to cross country skiing). A friend and I decided to give it a try a few weeks ago and I’d like to share our experiences with you!
What is Cross Country Skiing?
Are you interested in cross country skiing but don’t know what it is? Check out this video to see the basics of this dynamic outdoor sport.
Why Cross Country Skiing?
What drew me to check out cross country skiing is that 1.) I had not cross country skied in over a decade 2.) There are many trails in Western New York 3.) Most are free.
Preparing to Ski
After some time, we decided to try our skiing skills at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Depew NY, approximately a 20 minute drive from campus. We had heard from friends that this was a good spot for beginners. The trails were well marked and looped back to the main building close by in case we got cold. Best of all, it was free to ski on the trails; the only expense was a $5 charge for ski, boot and pole rentals for the day since neither of us had a pair.
The workers at the center were very helpful. They explained how to put the boots in the skis, the basics of what to do, and where to find maps in case we got lost. After bundling up in fleece pants, hats, gloves and a winter jacket, we were ready to go!
Skiing the Trails
As seasoned downhill skiers, cross country skis took some getting used to for us. Unlike the downhill pair that we were used to, these skis were long and the heel of the boot was not attached to the ski to encourage the forward gliding motion of cross country skiing. However, after a few hours and the occasional fall, we got the hang of it. The trails at the nature preserve were in fact very easy to follow and very beautiful, winding through trees and ice covered ponds. Plaques dotted the landscape explaining the history of the preserve.
It was a Monday morning and we did not see other skiers for at least a few hours. We ended up not needing snow pants and a few of the layers of clothing after warming up, and we were able to drop them off at the parking area which was right next to the trails.
After cross country skiing for the first time in years, I definitely want to get back out there and enjoy the rest of the Buffalo winter and I hope you do too. The trails at Reinstein Woods are open Monday through Friday 9-4:30pm, Saturday 1-4:30pm and some Sundays 1-4:30pm. While some of the other state parks do not offer rentals, trails are free and worth checking. There are also cross country trails at popular local ski destinations for a trail fee, and cross country night skiing, rentals, and dinner packages at Bryncliff Resort in Varysburg approximately an hour from campus, yet still substantially less in cost than area downhill skiing.
Have you been outside enjoying the Buffalo winter? Share your experiences in the comments section below! Happy skiing!