The snow has arrived. We were getting a little worried about a week before Christmas, when temps were still in the high 50s. “Will the snow ever arrive?” we wondered. “And if not, what will become of our winter guide?”
Well, as you know, Mother Nature came through like a champ last week and blasted us with several splendid inches, right in time for winter break for all the kiddies. We glared enviously out of our car windows at the hordes of children laughing and playing in the snow at White Park as we slowly drove by on our way to work. Life is SO unfair.
Anyhow, here are a few ideas on what to do around the city in the cold weather. You better get out and enjoy it fast – who knows how long winter will last?
In researching content for this issue, one thing became abundantly clear: Concord has a woeful shortage of good sledding hills.
White Park is probably your best – any possibly only – option to go zooming down a hill (the city puts up a protective fence around trees so you don’t smash into ‘em.
We’ve also heard Rollins Park is a good place for rookie sledders to get their footing.
If you know of an awesome secret place that we haven’t heard of to go sledding, by all means, hook an Insider up.
Though lots of birds skedaddle when the weather turns chilly, some tough it out and stay in the winter months.
The best place to see birds of prey, like eagles, are places along the river, especially where there’s open water, according to Becky Soumala, a biologist with New Hampshire Audubon and coordinator of the backyard winter bird survey.
Sewalls Falls is good because there are rapids and it stays open when other parts of the river are frozen, she said. Also keep a look out for Common Goldeneye ducks and Common Mergansers.
If you’re into woodland birds, check out places with a combination woods and feeders. The McLane Center at the Audubon and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests are particularly good, Soumala said.
Not in the mood to scan the skies for birds? Then let them come to you! On Feb. 12 – 13, you can participate in the backyard winter bird survey. Simply look outside and count the birds in your backyard and send the results to the Audubon. For more information about how to report the results, visit nhaudubon.org.
Rinks at White Park and Rollins Park (new this year!) are maintained by the city, weather permitting.
You can rent skates on the cheap at the White Park skate house, or you can rent the entire skatehouse for a party. Call 225-8690 for more information.
If the weather is really terrible, you can mosey on over to Everett Arena for open skate, Monday – Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., or on Sunday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Rentals will set you back $4; the entry fee is $4 for kids and $5 for adults.
And in case you’re more of an observer than a skater, the 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Championships are happening Jan. 28 – 30 at White Park. For more information on the tourney, visit blackicepondhockey.com.
There’s plenty of snow on the ground these days, so it must be time to bust out the snowshoes. Before you start trudging down Main Street with tennis rackets strapped to your feet, check out some of the Concord area’s trails.
The Concord Trail System boasts about 45 miles of walking paths that are ready for your webbed feet to stomp on. Pick up a color guide at the Concord Public Library or look it up online on the city website at onconcord.com/trails.
The McLane Audubon Center (formerly the Silk Farm Center) at 84 Silk Farm Road is home to a multitude of hiking trails as well, perfect for snowshoeing. You can rent snowshoes from the center during business hours or bring your own and cruise the trails in style.
The center is also offering a winter tracking program on Saturday, Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Your whole family can learn the ins and outs of winter wildlife tracking, and get a brief introduction to snowshoeing for beginners as well. Pre-registration is required.
For more information about the McLane Audubon Center, call
224-9909, ext. 333, or visit nhaudubon.org/center_mcla.php.
Who needs downhill when there’s an abundance of free places in town to cross-country ski? The top spots around are Carter Hill Orchard, 73 Carter Hill Road, and White Farm, 144 Clinton St. If you hit up Carter Hill when there’s enough snow, you can rent skis inside the barn during the day. The Capital Ski and Outing Club provides cross-country skis and maintains trails at the orchard from December through March. The rentals are free, but there is a donation can if you feel inclined to help the club. If you take skis out, just be sure to get them back by 5 p.m.
While you’re up there, be sure to keep a lookout for animal tracks, and keep your eyes peeled for moose and deer. And check out the new observation desk for birds.
Beaver Meadow Golf Course is another cross-country-skier’s delight. The city maintains the trails when there’s enough snow (about 8 to 10 inches), but according to a golf course employee reached by phone this week, the skiing isn’t very good yet. Check back after the next big storm.
The Winant Park behind Concord Hospital also has many trails good for skiing, as well as Sewalls Falls, the Forest Society and Oak Hill.