Now that the ground is covered with a layer of the wintery white stuff, the annual national Winter Trails Day provides a perfect opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to experience some of the best outdoor exercise the season has to offer.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Notchview Reservation in Windsor, beginners as well as more advanced enthusiasts can snowshoe and cross- country ski on the tended trails of this popular outdoor destination under the careful stewardship of the Trustees of Reservations.
Beginners can sign up for free cross-country ski lessons at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with a free waxing clinic at 11 a.m. and a ski fit testing station from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
At 11:30 a.m., naturalist Aimee Gelinas will lead a snowshoe hike through the woods. Everyone can enjoy half price trail fees of $6 adults, $3 children aged 6 to 12 years offered throughout the day, with some tasty free popcorn to fuel the fun.
A limited number of free two-hour snowshoe rentals with trail passes are available to give a taste of this energetic winter pastime. Ski rentals must be arranged in advance at local outdoor sports equipment suppliers.
Notchview is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk (around 5 p.m.) Regular admission is $12 adults, $6 children aged 6 to 12, with no charge for kids aged 5 and under. Information: www.
notchview.org, (413) 684-0148.
At Hilltop Orchards in Richmond -- an outdoor center and winery with commanding scenic views of the surrounding countryside -- beginners can enjoy free 30 minute clinics at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. for snowshoeing, and at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for cross country skiing. Equipment rentals and instruction are included. Space is limited and preregistration is required.
Following the lesson, practice your newfound skills for the rest of the day for a $10 trail fee that includes equipment rental and access to miles of groomed trails designed by Winter Olympian John Morton.
Afterward, visit the Barrel Room to relax with some warming hot chocolate and cider by the stone fireplace. Information: www.hilltoporchards.com, (413) 281-2028.
Middle schoolers don't have to wait till prom for a fancy night out filled with music and dancing. On Friday, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., students in grades 6 to 8 can put down their Playstations and iPods and head over to Berkshire South Regional Community Center in Great Barrington for a Winter Wonderland Dance.
This community New Year's celebration is open to students from any school. Kids should leave their jeans and sneakers at home and dress up in semiformal finery for a fun night out with their peers.
Snacks and beverages are provided and admission is $12 at the door. A 2012-13 school year middle school event permission form signed by a parent is required and can be completed in advance or filled out on the night.
The dance is part of a full schedule of special events offered by Berkshire South for youth and teens, including game nights and pool parties, classes in American sign language and knitting, crafts activities such as papermaking, and anti-bullying programs.
Families are invited to free community suppers on Mondays from 5 to 6 p.m., while teens and adults can take part in free ukulele band and group singing sessions.
Information: berkshiresouth.org, (413) 528-2810
If there's a young LEGO enthusiast in your family, be sure to check out the new LEGO club now meeting on the third Wednesday of each month at the Pittsfield Library.
This Wednesday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., school age fans of those colorful blocks can get together with fellow aficionados for some building fun on the theme of "Rocket Ships and Outer Space." Kids can trade design ideas, listen to cool music and get those creative construction juices flowing!
There is no charge to participate and registration is not required. Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Duplos (oversize LEGO-style blocks) will be on hand to keep younger siblings entertained. Information: www.pittsfieldlibrary.com, (413) 499-9480.