Dec 15, 2018
EAST BETHANY — When snow settles on the ground this winter, small tracks left in the snow give hints to what happens in the quiet of nature.
That’s when you can see the imprints left in the cold, white blanket of snow by animals and humans alike.
“The best thing about hiking when there is snow on the ground is that you get to spy on all the animals,” said Shannon Lyaski, coordinator for Genesee Park & Forest, adding when the conditions are slippery and snowy, snowshoes — which have claws on the bottom helping get traction — make it easier for people to enjoy their nature works. Mark Carra, naturalist-in-residence at the Beaver Meadow Audubon Center, said people get stir crazy during the winter and getting out and walking around is a big positive during a time of year when it is dark and depressing.
“There are times where there is animals on the surface of the pond. It depends on if there is any open water, people might see beaver, muskrats come up to the ice typically,” he said. “If there is open areas, we might even see certain birds come back. I mean there is times early and late in the season when we have great blue herons hunting for fish in little puddles on the side of the pond where there is little melted snow.”
Snowshoeing is a sport completely dependent on the weather. Lyaski said Genesee Park and Forest tend to get people on the weekends. Carra said its been difficult because to snowshoe properly, a minimal amount of snow is needed. He said people don’t want to tear up the area since snowshoes have metal grab-ons the bottom and they don’t want to harm the snowshoes by hitting rocks.
“In order to get the effect of snowshoes you want to have about six inches or more before you get the effect of having the snowshoes help you walk through deep snow,” Lyaski said. “They can be used when there isn’t a ton of snow.”
Here is a breakdown of other outdoor activities you can enjoy in the GLOW region this winter:
Genesee County Park & Forest11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany
• Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing — Park is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
• Snowshoe rentals are $5 at the Interpretive Nature Center from 10 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays; and noon on Saturday and Sundays; must be returned by 3 p.m.
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge1101 Casey Road, Basom
• Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing on Mohawk Skil Trail — open to sunrise to sunset.
• Trail is a self-guided 7.5 mile loop of Mohawk Pool.
• Free, bring your own snowshoes and skis
Beaver Meadow Audobon Center1610 Welch Road, North Java
• Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking — Nature Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 1-5 p.m. Sundays.
• Snowshoe rentals are $5 at Nature Center; free to ski, but bring your own equipment.
Letchworth State Park Castile
• Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling is allowed in designated areas, and the park is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
• Organized trail hikes depart from the Humphrey Nature Center at 1 p.m. every Saturday in December.
• A Crepuscular Walk celebrating the Equinox Sunset will depart from the River Road junction with Route 408 near Mt. Morris at 3;30 p.m. on Dec. 21.