So far, it’s shaping up to be the first winter in well over a decade to offer consistent-enough snowfall to provide decent conditions for pursuit of the energetic sport without having to travel all the way up into the Adirondacks or Green Mountains. The late-December blizzard laid down a good base; smaller subsequent snowfalls have continued to build it up; and critically, it hasn’t warmed up enough in between those snowstorms to melt off what we already had – unlike the pattern that has prevailed over the past decade of global warming. Every weekend, the “Parking Lot Full” signs have been going up early at Mohonk and Minnewaska, and Nordic skiers are having to exercise some creativity in finding new places to work out the old kick ‘n’ glide.
Happily, the Town of Wawarsing, over on the Route 209 side of the Gunks, just spent the past year or so sprucing up its Lipmann Park. It created a master plan, dredged the pond, enlisted local Scout troops to plant lots of trees and shrubs and, harnessing the youthful energy of the Renegades Mountain Bike Club, built a whole new system of trails. Somehow they packed 11 miles’ worth into the smallish town park, with lots of switchbacks climbing about 400 feet of altitude changes – just the kind of terrain that offers both mountain bikers and cross-country skiers a bit of a challenge. You can download the trail map at this link: http://lippmanpark.org/Documents/Lippman%20map%209_30_10%20web.pdf. Sounds like a destination that needs checking out!
This Saturday, February 5, the Town’s Lippman Park Committee, the Renegades and the Wawarsing Youth Commission are sweetening the pot with a Winter Festival designed to introduce the wonders of the refurbished Park to new users, free of charge. It wouldn’t be a proper winterfest without a Chili Cook-Off, but the presence of a pond also makes it possible to try ice-skating, broomball and ice hockey. For the wee ’uns, there will be snowman-building and a visit by Frosty himself; what is being billed as a “Snowshoe Poker Run,” presumably for the grownups; a bike race on ice (helmets and spikes required) for those wild youth who would normally be careening downhill on their mountain bikes if not for the snow; and a bonfire and hayrides for the whole family to enjoy. A concession will make hot beverages and soup available. And of course, there’s cross-country skiing, and more snow in this week’s forecast!
This Saturday’s event runs from noon to 4 p.m. But if you can’t make it then, definitely come back another day to explore the new trail options, whether by hiking, jogging skiing, snowshoeing or biking. The entrance to Lippman Park is located on Route 209 (which is also the continuation of Route 44/55 at this point) in Wawarsing, right where the Vernooykill flows down out of the Gunks and crosses the highway. For more info, call (845) 647-0200, extension 541, or visit www.lippmanpark.org.