snowmobiles in Oswego
Upstate New York

Winter Activities in Oswego County to Enjoy This Season

When it comes to winter activities in Upstate New York, Oswego County is full of great options! Nestled between one of the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, and two mountain regions, the landscape is perfect for winter fun. From snowmobiling and ice fishing to
Admittedly, the weather this season has been unusual, but with the recent snowstorm, it’s time to get out and adventure! So here are some winter activities in Oswego County to enjoy this season.

Upstate New York Winter

Ice Climb at Salmon River Falls

Salmon River Falls is easily one of the best places to hike in Oswego County. It also has one of the best views – particularly during pink sunsets. But because of the steep drop into the gorge, and the rushing waterfalls, the gorge trail is – understandably – closed in the winter. But the trail IS open to registered ice climbers.

That being said, ice climbing is not for novices. Folks planning to ice climb in the Salmon River Falls Unique Area should be experienced and climb in pairs for safety. You must provide all of your own equipment, including ice picks, helmets, gloves, rope, crampons, etc. For more information about ice climbing at the falls and to download the registration form, check out the Oswego County Tourism website.

Snowmobile Along the Trails of Oswego County

In a state filled with snowmobile trails, Oswego County is no stranger to the snowmobiling crowd. Winter enthusiasts can enjoy over 360 miles of snowmobile trails, centered in Mexico, NY. Several clubs help to maintain the trails throughout the season, and provide guidance regarding weather and safety. The Oswego County website also maintains updated information on the trail conditions throughout the winter.

Popular trailheads are located throughout the county. Grab a meal and go for a ride at The Grist Mill in Parish. Or begin your trip at a park, like Selkirk Shores in Pulaski, Mexico Town Park, or Kasoag Lake Park in Williamstown.

While exploring the beautiful snowy landscape is the best perk of snowmobiling, visiting bars and restaurants along the trails is just as much fun. Check out these restaurants in Oswego County accessible by snowmobile. And remember, drive responsibly. A snowmobile is still a vehicle, and no one should drive one while under any influence.

The Eis House

Under new ownership as of November 2022, The Eis House in Mexico is run by the quartet of Allers siblings. The restaurant prides itself on its rustic charm, fresh menu, and large event space.

The Grist Mill

Located off Route 81 exit 33, The Grist Mill is a family-style restaurant in Parish with space for plenty of parking and a place to get fuel. The restaurant is open daily from 6:30 til 9.

RFH’s Hideaway

Family owned and operated since 1973, RFH’s Hideaway in Phoenix serves pub-style lunches and dinners. The desserts are homemade and the prices can’t be beat.

Sandbar

If you’re exploring the trails along the northern shore of Oneida Lake, Sandbar will be your best bet for food and drinks. The bar is known for drink specials and live music.

Trek the Trails with Skis or Snowshoes

Just like there are hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails, there are many miles of trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Since Oswego County is full of state parks and forests, there are plenty of places to explore after a snowy day. The best part is that the parks are FREE to visit in the winter.

Selkirk Shores and Battle Island are both great options for snowshoeing and skiing along marked trails. One of my favorite places for casual hiking, Great Bear in Fulton is a great spot for winter walks too. Surprisingly – or not, you’ll find the longest trail systems in the wildlife management areas. Little John (in Redfield and Boylston) boasts 18.8 miles of trails while Three Mile Bay (in West Monroe and Constantia) adds another 10 miles.

Places like the Amboy 4-H Environmental Education Center have snowshoes that visitors can borrow. They are also hosting an upcoming moonlight snowshoe walk on Friday, March 10th at 6pm.

Go Ice Fishing on a Frozen Pond

Upstate New York is famous for fishing all year long. Bass and walleye in the summer, salmon in the fall, perch and walleye in the winter. There are several ponds in Oswego County that freeze over quickly in the winter, and ice fisherman flock to those spots early in the season. Whitney Pond, Sandy Ponds, Panther Lake and others make great spots to catch fish in the winter.

Later in the season, Oneida Lake freezes over, making that the biggest and most popular spot for ice fishing in Upstate New York. During the most extreme cases, fisherman have been known to drive cars and snowmobiles across the lake to set up their tents. But… I’d advise against it. There’s no need to send emergency crews to rescue a drowning vehicle!

The NYS DEC has a list of ponds and lakes great for ice fishing. Be sure to reference it when planning your trip. As always, make sure to have all of the necessary equipment. And check the weather reports and local ice fishing Facebook groups for advice on ice thickness.

a pile of fish on the ice from ice fishing in Fulton, New York
Photo courtesy of my brother’s recent ice fishing trip in Fulton, NY

Ice Skate for FREE at Cullinan Ice Rink

In a new initiative from Mayor Billy Barlow, visitors can skate for FREE during specified times at James P. Cullinan Ice Rink at Kingsford Park School. For those who need to borrow skates, they are available to rent for just $2 per pair. The rink is also available for private events.

Visit the Museums and Learn Some History

No matter the weather, one thing that you can always do in the winter is visit the museums in Oswego County. The region has some pretty unique history as well as great family-oriented places to visit. The Starr Clark Tin Shop & Museum in Mexico showcases the history of the Underground Railroad in Oswego County. And while it’s most poular in the summer, the H. Lee White Maritime Museum remains open all year long.

Need another option? Check out the best restaurants in Oswego.

Tell me your thoughts!