With ski season months away and last winter becoming a (thankfully) distant memory, you’re probably not thinking of hitting the slopes. But from the big three ski resorts in the Catskills to the rolling hills of the Taconic range in eastern New York, our favorite formerly snow-covered mountains are now lush with greenery and have transformed into summer playgrounds. While Belleayre may be the only one that has actually added a beach, with the opening several years ago of a man-made lake, other ski areas have added ziplines, adventure courses, paintball, a wide variety of fun- (and food- ) filled festivals, and the ability to ride a chairlift to the summit for the sole pleasure of taking in the scenic view. For those of you who still want to speed down the slopes, Windham Mountain has exciting news: Its new Mountain Bike Park opens this month — and it means business. The Windham team enlisted the help of Gravity Logic, the masterminds behind the Whistler-Blackcomb Bike Park in Canada. Expect flow-style trails, new intermediate level terrain, and two new routes to complement the existing UCI World Cup and Race the World trails. All are accessible from “A Lift,” a detachable quad serving the peak of the mountain. The park also includes a pump track, rentals, lessons, and guided tours. Rather watch than ride? Windham is the only US stop for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, August 7 to 9. Happy trails!
Grab a harness and helmet and take on Hunter Mountain’s zipline canopy, the largest and highest in North America. The mountain’s New York Zipline Adventure Tours reach heights of nearly 600 feet and allow daredevils to zip away at 50 miles per hour. The tours feature three different sections, including the Adventure Tower — think giant jungle gym fit with rope bridges and cable walks; the Mid Mountain Tour, which is great for families; and the Summit Skyrider, crisscrossing twin zips that traverse peak-to-peak to another mountain and back.
For more adventure in the air, head over to Catamount Ski Area — located half in New York State and half in Massachusetts. Its 12-course Aerial Adventure Park allows you to navigate through the treetops, climbing ladders, crossing bridges, and hooking up to more than 50 ziplines. $53; $46, youth; $39, children.
Summertime is family fun time at Holiday Mountain in Monticello. Holiday’s mechanical bull is ready for any cowboy or cowgirl looking to meet their match. Show off your Tiger Woods skills on the 18-hole mini golf course or hit a few out of the park at one of the five batting cages. To round off the day, enjoy a little family competition and race around the go-kart track.
Ready to redeem yourself for all those lost snowball fights? Check out Liberty Paintball at Thunder Ridge in eastern Dutchess County. Dodge paintballs through 350 acres of streams, trenches, and dense jungle-like fields. Climb aboard grounded helicopters, snipe the enemy from towers, and take cover in a bus on its new field, “The Air Strip.” You want intense? Try the Missile Command, and Bunker Hill fields.
Take the kids out on the water for some kayaking at Belleayre Beach (left) or release the inner thrill-seeker in you by tackling the largest and highest zipline canopy in North America at Hunter Mountain
Windham is not the only local mountain with world-class mountain biking. In fact, Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury, which opened in 1995 and has more than 60 miles of trails, was one of the first lift-served mountain-bike centers to open in the Northeast. This year, the popular bike park, which is open every weekend, added Greenhorn, an all-new beginner trail. All-day lift and trail access is $35.
Hunter Mountain’s Scenic Skyride features a six-person chairlift that carries passengers up to the 3,200-foot summit. A ride to the top will afford you breathtaking views all the way to Vermont. Before heading back down, hike to the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower; at 4,040 feet, it’s the the highest fire tower in the state. $12, $8 children, $10 seniors.
Belleayre Mountain’s Skyride in Highmount offers vistas that do not disappoint. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the top or head back down to Belleayre Beach, situated on Pine Hill Lake. Soak up the sun on the sandy shores or paddle away in one of the kayaks or pedal boats for rent. Other summer fun at the beach includes fishing, basketball, and volleyball. Beach admission, walk-ins, $3; cars $10.