Press Room – Bundle Up And Head For The Hills, Ponds And Rinks

Contact: Megan Casper
National Public Relations
M. Silver Associates, Inc.
(212) 754-6500
Abbey@msilver-pr.com Jennifer Aniskovich
Connecticut Commission
on Culture & Tourism
(860) 265-2777
janiskovich@ctarts.org

BUNDLE UP AND HEAD FOR THE HILLS, PONDS AND RINKS

From Stress-free Family Skiing to World-Class Figure Skating and Eagle Watches, There’s Winter Recreation for Everyone in Connecticut

HARTFORD — January 4, 2006 — Stress-free downhill slopes, cross-country trails through woodlands and meadows, skating on ponds, lakes and rinks, snowmobiling through wintery wilderness: there is no better place in New England to discover the pleasures of winter recreation than Connecticut. Anyone seeking to combine an invigorating and thoroughly relaxing weekend of outdoor fun with the cozy warmth of a country inn, comfortable B&B or family-friendly hotel need look no farther than an hour or so beyond Boston, Providence, or New York.

For those who prefer their winter recreation to be of the spectator variety, Connecticut also offers everything from ski jumping and world-class figure skating to eagle and owl watches.

Connecticut is where snowmaking was invented – at Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall (860-672-6100), one of five downhill ski areas in the state. Whatever they might lack in size (and expense) compared to some of the commercial monsters further north, all of Connecticut’s downhill resorts offer a friendly, uncrowded and stress-free brand of skiing ideal for families, beginners and experienced skiers who would rather spend their time on the slopes than in lift-lines. Mohawk, the largest with over 100 acres of trails, was built by Ski Hall of Famer Walt Schoenknecht. Woodbury Ski & Skate Park in Woodbury (203-263-2203), the second largest, offers not only downhill and snowboarding but cross-country skiing, ice skating and tubing as well. Ski Sundown, in New Hartford (860-379-SNOW), is considered by many to be the most challenging downhill area in the state, while Powder Ridge in Middlefield (860-349-3454) and Mount Southington Ski Area in Southington (860-628-0954) are particularly popular with families and what the industry calls newbies. Which is not to say that experts will be bored here or at any of the other downhill resorts where 100% snowmaking guarantees that any skier will get his or her money’s worth any time during the winter.

Cross country enthusiasts will discover that Connecticut has some of the finest, and most scenic, ski touring centers in New England. Some offer a pure cross-country experience, others, as in the case of Woodbury, feature other winter sports. Among the best known are the 4,000 acres of the White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield (860-567-0857), offering 35 miles of ski trails through meadows and woodlands, and Winding Trails Cross Country Ski Center in Farmington (860-678-9582) where, in addition to 20 kilometers of ski trails (rental equipment is available) through gently rolling hills, outdoor enthusiasts will find ice skating on Walton Pond and plenty of sledding hills.

Among Connecticut’s many state parks and forests offering cross-country skiing are Natchaug State Forest, in Eastford in the Mystic area; Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton; Salmon River State Forest in Colchester and Mansfield Hollow State Park in Mansfield. Several others also feature ice skating on ponds and lakes. These include: Osborndale State Park, in Derby; Gay City State Park in Hebron; Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middlefield; Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield, and John A. Minetto State Park in Torrington.

Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding and Quaddick State Park in East Putnam also offer ice skating au naturel (that is, as nature meant it to be enjoyed on a pond, river or lake) but, for a completely different experience, there is the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury (860-651-5400). While beginners and experts alike will enjoy the public skating hours at this renowned twin-rink facility, its real claim to fame is as the skating home to some of the world’s best ex-Soviet and Russian skaters who came to Connecticut after the fall of the Soviet Union. If such names as Ekaterina Gordeeva, Ilia Kulik, Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov ring a bell, they are just some of the world-class competitors who may be seen training here.

Despite what might be thought of as competing agendas, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers actually often have a symbiotic relationship, with the latter creating and maintaining the miles of trails through mountains and hills, meadows and valleys that both sorts then enjoy. Such is the case in several of Connecticut’s parks and forests where snowmobilers are welcome. These include Peoples State Forest in the Litchfield Hills; Shenipsit State Forest in Ellington; Cockaponset State Forest in Haddam; West Thompson Lake Federal Park in North Grosvenordale (860-923-2982) where ice skating is also featured; and Nipmuck State Forest in Union.

While visitors may contact many of Connecticut’s state parks and forests individually for information about winter sports and facilities, others do not have staff onsite at all times. The best way to get information about all the state’s recreation opportunities is by calling 860-424-3200 or by visiting the Department of Environmental Protection at www.dep.state.ct.us/stateparks.

Outdoor enthusiasts will also find a fair share of special winter events in Connecticut, starting with the 11th Annual New Year’s Resolution Nature Walk. Sponsored by the Connecticut Audubon Center at Glastonbury (860-633-8402) on January 14, the guided interpretive nature walk will take place in the 48-acre Earle Park in the state’s River Valley region. Birders have several opportunities to immerse themselves in winter while engaged in their favorite pursuit. The 20th Annual Eagle Watches on the Connecticut River take advantage of the great Bald Eagle’s winter migratory routes along the river and will take place January 21 and 28 as well as February 4, 11, 18, 25, beginning in Haddam (203-245-9056). The Audubon Center at Glastonbury also features a bird event this winter: the 8th Annual SuperbOWL, January 29, an excellent opportunity to learn more about Connecticut’s native owl population.

For another variation on flying, outdoor enthusiasts might consider a trip to Salisbury on the weekend of February 11-12. This is when Olympic-level competitors from throughout New England migrate for the 80th Annual Eastern States Ski Jumping Championships on a mountainous 55-meter jump. Call 860-435-0019 for more information.

For further information about the 52 Getaways to Connecticut, restaurants, resorts, country inns, B&Bs and other places to stay in Connecticut, please call 888-CTvisit (888-288-4748) or log on at www.CTvisit.com. Connecticut offers visitors a multi-faceted wealth of attractions, historical, cultural and recreational activities, diverse and beautiful natural landscapes, parks, beaches and wilderness sure to fulfill any getaway need.

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