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Erie County Parks ready for winter recreation

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Mon, Dec 21st 2020 10:15 am

Casinos will be closed due to COVID-19 concerns, but bathrooms will be open

The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry is prepared to offer a full slate of family-friendly winter activities at county parks once measurable, lasting snow arrives and dipping temperatures provide the consistent cold and freezing conditions necessary to support winter fun. Activities including sledding, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing can be enjoyed in various Erie County parks. Casino bathrooms will be open for use, but the rest of the park casino areas will be closed due to COVID-19 safety procedures.

“Our Erie County parks system has a lot to offer year-round, and winter is a great season to be outside enjoying time with family and friends in our beautiful natural settings,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “Whether it’s downhill skiing at Emery or Chestnut Ridge, cross-country skiing at the Elma Meadows and Grover Cleveland golf courses, or sledding at one of our other great parks, there is a lot of free fun waiting to be had when snow is on the ground.”

Winter sports offerings are updated daily at http://www2.erie.gov/parks/ and it is recommended that individuals and families check the website and weather conditions before heading to a park.

When the weather permits, sledding will be available at six parks (Akron Falls, Chestnut Ridge, Como Lake, Ellicott Creek, Elma Meadows and Sprague Brook), ungroomed cross-country skiing at 10 parks (Akron Falls, Chestnut Ridge, Como Lake, Ellicott Creek, Elma Meadows, Emery, Forestry, Grover Cleveland GC, Sgt. Mark A. Rademacher Memorial/Hunters Creek and Sprague Brook), groomed cross-country skiing at three parks (Elma Meadows, Grover Cleveland, Sprague Brook), downhill skiing at Chestnut Ridge and Emery, snowboarding at Chestnut Ridge and Emery, and snowshoeing at all Erie County parks except Akron Falls. Warming huts on cross-country ski trails at Sprague Brook and Forestry will be closed due to state COVID-19 protocols.

Downhill skiers and snowboarders will find their way back uphill made easier at Chestnut Ridge by the new ski tow and at Emery by the “Magic Carpet,” a 920-foot long conveyor system/moving walkway that skiers and snowboarders stand on for a five-minute ride up the hill after their downhill run.

“We encourage residents to check the website before coming out to enjoy winter activities at our parks. Because we don’t control the weather, we can’t be certain that all activities will be happening on any given day in the winter,” said Commissioner of Parks, Recreation & Forestry Troy P. Schinzel. “Some snow has already fallen and when we get a good freeze there will be plenty of winter fun to go around.”

Hours of operation:

•“Magic Carpet” at Emery (weather permitting), 3-7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays

•Ski Tow at Chestnut (weather permitting), 4-7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays

•Sledding at Chestnut Ridge/Como Park (lights), 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

•Sledding at Elma Meadows/Akron/Ellicott Creek/Sprague Brook (no lights). 10 a.m. to dusk daily

When the ground is frozen and there is at least 6 inches of snow, snowmobile trails will also open in select Erie County parks. More information can be found at http://www.wnysnowtrails.com/ .

For more information on the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, visit https://www2.erie.gov/parks/.

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