All About Armonk

North Castle Daily News

Outdoor Winter Recreation: Ice Skating, Ice Fishing, Sleigh Riding, Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing

January 7, 2015
Now that the temperature has dropped, the Westchester County Parks Department will check daily and post a sign to permit ice skating and ice fishing when Wampus Pond on Route 128 is frozen and safe for activities. The park’s recreation activities include ice skating and ice fishing. On weekends and school holidays kids can be seen playing ice hockey on a small, shoveled area. Wampus Park is located off Route 128, 1.5 miles north of School Street. Dogs must be leashed and picked up after, but no dogs are allowed in the picnic areas.

Cross-country Skiing:
  • Cranberry Lake Preserve, located on 1609 Old Orchard Street, off Route 22 in North White Plains, has marked trails. Merestead, 455 Byram Lake Road, Mount Kisco, has open areas and marked trails.
  • Cross-country skiing paths are also located at Pound Ward Ridge Reservation**, 11 Reservation Road, Cross River
  • Rockefeller State Park Preserve **, 125 Phelps Way, Pleasantville. **Parking fees apply to the last two parks

Snowshoeing is a great outdoor winter activity that can be done on almost any hiking trail.
North Castle and nearby hiking trails include:
  • Betsy Sluder Preserve on Old Route 22 in Armonk
  • Eugene and Agnes Meyer Nature Preserve, which can be entered off Oregon Road in
      Armonk or Sarles Street in Bedford     
  • Westmoreland Sanctuary on Chestnut Ridge Road in Mount Kisco
  • Butler Memorial Sanctuary, Chestnut Ridge Road, Bedford (known for rugged terrain)
  • Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
  • Rockefeller State Park in Sleepy Hollow
  • Gedney Park of Chappaqua  
  • Whippoorwill Park of Chappaqua

Any steep and open hill offers great sleigh riding; some of the better known areas are:
  • Behind Coman Hill School* in Armonk
  • Gedney Park in Chappaqua
  • Harvey School in Bedford*
  • Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
  • Rockefeller State Park Preserve
  • Whippoorwill Country Club* in Armonk  

* Marks private property; all other locations are open to the public

Please be safe and enjoy these activities with a partner.

Nearby planned and public outdoor group activities are as follows:
  • Winter Snowshoe Hike, a three-mile round trip hike to Lost Pond of Westmoreland Sanctuary, ages 12 and up; $5. 
  • Snowshoe Tour of Ward Pound Reservation on January 18 at 1:00 p.m.

It's the Perfect Time to Take a Hike--With Your Snowshoes
By Michelle Boyle                

Updated December 1, 2014
This season's early snowfall may make this winter ideal to strap on the snowshoes and hike around the hood.

Anywhere hiking can be done is also ideal for snowshoeing. Terrains vary from the slight incline of the meadow of Eugene and Agnus Meyer Nature Preserve on Sarles Street to the most challenging climb of Butler Preserve off Chestnut Ridge Road, both in Bedford Corners. Westmoreland Sanctuary, also on Chestnut Ridge Road in Bedford Corners, offers varied trails where you can hike for a short distance on the easiest trail or more than two hours on well-marked trails. Snowshoeing in Pound Ridge’s Ward Pound Ridge is endless and is recommended for snowshoeing in its extensive hills.

I like to wear light layers, because it’s a great workout and you warm up quickly. I dress as if I were skiing. But remember that we are not high up on the chairlifts, so there will be no wind sending a chill; and I'm you more likely to open my jacket, or at least the jacket vents. One of the most important piece of equipment is a pair of solid winter boots that can be strapped around your feet and into the snowshoe. Under my boots, I like to wear thin, nylon socks, coated with polyurethane that keep my feet dry and warm. Hat, gloves, glove liners, lightweight neck warmer, snow pants with gators, and sunglasses are the standard attire.

There’s also the question of whether to use poles or not. Conditions may vary from a signficant snow coverage, to freezing rain that has left a top layer of ice that crunches under the large snowshoe. The ice prevents the point of the poles from digging in, and they may end up sliding on the surface. Some people like the extra upper body workout when using the poles, but with the poles sitting above the snowshoe, the when the arm angle is less than 90 degrees, that makes me uncomfortable. Yet the poles can assist with balance on inclines or declines. Give both options a try to find your own comfort.

Wherever you go, be sure to partner up, because . . . the more the merrier and it's always safer with a buddy.

Get in Shape for the Slopes

December 17, 2013
"As the winter continues to drop more snow on area ski slopes, many skiers will be heading north to hit the mountains. Hopefully, if you’re planning to go skiing or snowboarding, you’ve been preparing your body for the demands required to ski or ride safely," says Scott Ogren, former US Freestyle Ski Team member and founder of Ogren Physical Therapy.

As the ski season begins, it's not too late to get into condition with some stretching and strengthening before you hit the slopes. If you prepare properly, even with some simple stretching, your risk of injury decreases. Strengthening exercises help prepare you for the fatigue of muscles that you may not have used before stepping on the boards this season. Experts say the chance of injury increases under the following conditions: when the terrain is challenging, when the conditions on the slopes have deteriorated, when you're fatigued, or when at the end of the day the sunlight as the sun is setting flattens the terrain, catching you off guard.

Prepare for the slopes, says personal trainer and Co-Fitness Director of The GYM of Armonk Declan Foley. "If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, be sure to prepare your body for what you’ll be asking it to do. Knee injuries account for about 40% of all skiing injuries, so be sure to add at least six weeks of quadriceps and hamstring strengthening, as well as balance work, to keep your joints healthy and stable in the snow. And don’t forget to wear a helmet!"

"Like most sports, having a strong core is crucial," says Ogren. "Without a strong core, it's difficult to control the rest of your body, and skiing requires a balance of strength and flexibility."

Dr. Robert Silverman, owner of New York Chiro Care, gave us some tips to train for better performance. “Lunges are a good warm-up exercise. Try walking lunges/steps, alternating your forward leg and pulsing the opposite arm directed overhead and upward through the core, then take a step, hold for two seconds, alternate and repeat.”

Neil Chernick, owner and director of Access Physical Therapy says, "Squats are my favorite exercise for skiing and snowboarding -- they hit so many of the important muscles needed for skiing/snowboarding, all in one exercise. For those without any knee issues, I recommend putting a chair behind as a guide as to how low to go. Just tap your butt to the seat. For those with knee issues or "noisy knees,” don't go as low (ie. mini squats) and make sure to keep it pain-free. Symptoms like these could be a warning sign for knee issues to come and should be addressed by your physical therapist or physician."  

The images below which include the "Wall Y Exercise" are courtesy of Dr. Silverman. The Wall Y Exercise, Silverman says, "helps prevents people from rounding their shoulders, and allows a better upper body posture for exercise and respiration to be more efficient.

"Of course, your legs, and hip and buttock muscles, should be conditioned appropriately. Make sure to warm up and gently stretch your legs and lower back, before you head out. Have fun and be safe out there," says Ogren.

Finally, always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any new exercise program.

With the arrival of cold winter weather, Westchester residents can look forward to ice skating, cross country skiing and sledding at many county park locations. Participants must bring their own equipment; no rentals are available. All sports are permitted seven days a week during daylight hours only, and admission and parking are free unless otherwise noted.

Ice skating is permitted at the following locations, weather conditions permitting. Ice is checked daily at all locations; look for a “Skating Today” sign posted, which indicates safe conditions for that day:

• Wampus Pond, Route 128, Armonk   
• Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Memorial, Route 35, Somers (11 a.m. – 4 p.m. only)*
• Blue Mountain Reservation, Welcher Avenue, Peekskill
• Mountain Lakes Park, Hawley Road, North Salem
• Willson’s Woods Park, East Lincoln Avenue, Mount Vernon
• Tibbetts Brook Park, Midland Avenue, Yonkers
• Kensico Dam, Valhalla*
When snow cover permits, cross-country skiing will be allowed at the following locations:
• Blue Mountain Reservation, Welcher Avenue, Peekskill
• Croton Gorge, Route 129, Cortlandt
• Croton Point Park, Croton Point Avenue, Croton-on-Hudson
• Kitchawan Preserve, Route 134, Yorktown
• Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Memorial, Route 35, Somers
• Mohansic Golf Course, Baldwin Road off Taconic Parkway, Yorktown Heights
• Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Routes 35 and 121 South, Cross River*
• Cranberry Lake Preserve, Old Orchard Street off Route 22, North White Plains
• Maple Moor Golf Course, North Street, White Plains
• Marshlands Conservancy, Route 1, Rye
• The trails at Merestead, Byram Lake Road, Mount Kisco
• Saxon Woods Park, Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains
• Saxon Woods Golf Course, Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale
• Dunwoodie Golf Course, Wasylenko Lane off Yonkers Avenue, Yonkers
• Lenoir Preserve, Dudley Street off North Broadway, Yonkers
• Sprain Lake Golf Course, Grassy Sprain Road, Yonkers
• Tibbetts Brook Park, Midland Avenue, Yonkers
Weather permitting, sledding is allowed at Croton Gorge, Lasdon Park (8 a.m. – 4 p.m. only), Ward Pound Ridge Reservation* and Dunwoodie, Sprain Lake, Saxon Woods, Mohansic and Maple Moor golf courses.

Go to for directions and contact information for the parks.

*Parking/admission fees apply.