Seven Outdoor Winter Activities in Rhode Island

Try out snowshoeing, sledding and other winter-weather fun.

After a year filled with quarantining and social distancing, being outside in nature this winter will be necessary for our own sanity. The Farmers’ Almanac predicts a cold, snowy season, and we’ll need the white, fluffy stuff to enjoy all the fun én plein air activities at our doorstep.

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Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing: Even if heading up north to the mountains might not be possible due to travel restrictions, local powder junkies can still wander in a winter wonderland at Chafee Preserve in Wickford, Colt State Park in Bristol or Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge (spot the snowy owl for extra credit). The dedicated paths and stunning views give you the space you’ve been craving all year to spread out outdoors with friends, or you can find your own intimate spot among the arbors.

Sledding: You might have your favorite neighborhood peak, but “Suicide Hill” at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington and Fort Adams State Park in Newport are prime spots for sledding the Ocean State’s few hills. Head out once the snowfall breaks for powder runs, or the next day for speedy chutes on a packed layer of ice. BYO everything, including sleds, tubes and warm clothing.

Ice Skating: The rink at the Bank Newport City Center in downtown Providence is great for beginners and provides rentals too. Practice your Salchow jump and spins, then savor some hot cocoa to warm up. Try the ice bumper cars for a family-friendly competition. theprovidencerink.com

Hiking: If you lack winter equipment, take a hike along the snowy trails at Burlingame State Park in Charlestown and Middletown’s Sakonnet Greenway Trail. Both offer shelter from the cold winter wind and peace among the protected forest. ailt.org/trails-maps

Mountain Biking: Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick hosts the NBX Cyclocross Gran Prix race every year, pre-COVID of course, so its off-road biking options are intense. The entire family can relish a day spent in the woods, bunny hopping tree roots and rocks, riding through icy mud puddles and across evergreen needles. Don’t forget to look up to notice the diverse trees, including nineteen evergreen and sixty-two deciduous species. riparks.com/locations/locationgoddard.html

Ice Boating: Visit Block Island in the off-season and observe ice boating devotees. Depending on the wind direction and speed, they’ll be carving icy turns in frozen ponds across the island, including Sachem or Fresh ponds. If you’re lucky enough to have your own boat, follow the wind for the best insider intelligence. Helmets and many warm layers encouraged.

Downhill Skiing: Yawgoo Valley Ski Area has reduced the number of guests on the property for the ski season for both indoors and out, and it has limited the number of season passes sold by nearly 60 percent. Daily lift tickets will be reduced by at least one-third but will likely increase on peak days and sessions. Kudos if you snagged a spot on the lottery for your kids to learn to ski this winter. There might still be spots available, so give signing up a try. yawgoo.com