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Skating and Skiing Around Town: The Best Places to Ice-Skate and Cross-Country Ski in the Upper Valley

Dec 27, 2012 01:22PM ● Published by Erin Frisch

Skating and Skiing Around Town: The Best Places to Ice-Skate and Cross-Country Ski in the Upper Valley

Idyllic New Hampshire and Vermont are dreams come true for winter sports enthusiasts. Whether you have been enjoying these activities for ten years or ten days, there is a venue for you.

Ice-Skating:

• Occom Pond: This family-friendly pond is located just off the Hanover Green. From playing pond hockey, to free-skating, to sliding down the annual ice slide onto the pond, there are activities here for the whole family. A small rental facility on-site rents hockey and figure skates, as well as hockey sticks, sleds, helmets, and even cross-country skis. Come February, another exciting event at Occom is the annual Pond Party, a community party on the ice. Come and join the festivities, which include sleigh rides, ice fishing, couch racing on the ice, and even a polar bear plunge. You can also see the annual ice sculpture competition along the banks of the pond and enjoy a cup of cocoa and toasted marshmallows by the outdoor fire pit. And access is free to the public! Skating at Occom is a family tradition not to be missed.

• Hartford Municipal Arena Ice-Skating Rink: This indoor arena, which hosts many hockey leagues each season, also offers public skating on Sunday afternoons. This is a great place for beginning ice skaters because of the smooth, Zambonied surface and the low-key crowd. Don’t worry about being run over by speeding hockey players; most of the skaters are beginners and families. In fact, Hartford Arena hosts a wide range of skating lessons, both individual and group, for all ages. You can buy skating passes each time you go or a season ticket for the family. This is the perfect place for anyone who’s just learning the ins and outs (and ups and downs!) of ice-skating.

• Campion Rink: Just a short drive from downtown Hanover, this rink is home to many hockey tournaments as well as competitive figure skating leagues. One of the best features of Campion is its schedule; it has public skating time almost every day of the week. You can find the ice schedule online at www.campionrink.org. Campion Rink also houses many learn-to-skate as well as learn-to-play-hockey programs. Around the holidays, Campion Rink hosts several special events, including Skating with Santa, which raises food to benefit the Upper Valley Haven. Campion, too, is truly a community venue.

Cross-Country Skiing:

• Occom Pond: Occom Pond also hosts the Dartmouth Outing Club, one of the most accessible cross-country skiing facilities for families and pros alike. The Dartmouth Cross-Country Ski Center grooms more than 25 kilometers of pristine ski trails, looping around Hanover and across the golf courses. The trails, which lead along a brook and through pine forest, are well worth the cost of a season or day pass. Also available on the weekends are on-site, cross-country skiing clinics, with classic skiing on Saturdays and skate-skiing on Sundays. Adding to the convenience of this venue, you can rent all your equipment on-site, including boots, skis, and poles. With this resource just out your front door, there is no excuse not to take the whole family skiing.

• Oak Hill: Also maintained by the Dartmouth Cross-Country Ski Center, these trails are just around the corner. Turn right at the Co-op Community Market (past the golf courses) and then left after the road turns to dirt. These trails are the cream of the crop; they were professionally groomed in 2003 for the NCAA Championships, and the same set-up and quality have been maintained ever since. Try the Silver Fox Trail, the main trail that consists of easy, moderate, and difficult segments. There is a warming hut in the parking lot where you can buy day and season passes as well as drinks and snacks.

• Woodstock Ski Touring Center: You don’t have to be a guest at the Woodstock Inn to enjoy these facilities. With 30 kilometers of trails groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, you can’t go wrong here. You can rent all the equipment you need at the Nordic Center shop, for both skiing and snowshoeing. Lessons are also available.

Where do you skate and ski in the Upper Valley?

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