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Outdoor Adventures

Outdoor Adventures: Step outside in 2013

Mt.Sunapee

Mt.Sunapee

Start the new year off with a ski or hike, and then change it while getting outside.

The best morning to ski is New Year’s Day, a time when the early bird gets the corduroy as revelers snore away the best part of the day.

It is a morning of hope, rejuvenation and promise.

So keep going by stepping outside your comfort zone in 2013 and encouraging others, too.

There’s got to be someone around who wants to learn to ski or snowboard but grimaces at the cost. No excuse for that, as January is learn to ski and snowboard month with discounted and free packages with group lessons, rentals and lift tickets across the country.

“Another benefit of learning how to ski and snowboard is that participants can burn a lot calories,” said Mary Jo Tarallo, executive director for learn to ski and snowboard month.

Select New Hampshire ski areas are upping the ante with a week of free novice lesson packages from Jan. 12-18 for skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. To take part in that week, go to skinh.com to register and download the coupon. Then contact the ski area to make a reservation.

“It provides an ideal opportunity to try something new with your family at a price that everyone can afford,” Ski New Hampshire’s Karl Stone said.

In Vermont, several areas are offering $29 novice learning packages, too. They’re non-holiday and going fast. Grab one before they’re gone at ski.vermont.com/learn.

Another popular free and discounted introduction to the worlds of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing comes on Jan. 12 with national winter trails day. Those two pursuits blend well with those with a weight-loss resolution – an hour of brisk cross-country skiing burns 700 calories while snowshoeing uses 550 calories.

In the White Mountains, Great Glen Trails and Bretton Woods are participating, while Vermont has more choices – Smugglers’ Notch, Rikert’s in Ripton, Strafford Nordic, Goshen’s Blueberry Hill, Ole’s in Waitsfield and Grafton Pond. Be sure to call ahead to make reservations, and check wintertrails.org for any changes.

New Year’s Day is also a time to go for a free family-friendly guided hike as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes program.

In New Hampshire, choose from two free family-friendly guided hikes as a way to ring in 2013. Plans call for a moderate two-mile hike from the Hikers Cabin in Monadnock State Park in the southwest corner of the state. The other is an easy 1.5-mile hike starting from the visitor center at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion Historic Site in Portsmouth.

Elmore State Park in Lake Elmore, Vt., is the site of a four-mile easy hike starting at 9 a.m. Sleep in a bit before heading to Kettle Pond State Park in Groton at 1 p.m. for an easy two-mile hike around the pond that is estimated to take about 2 1∕2 hours. Little River State Park in Bolton is hosting a 10 a.m. easy hike of about two miles. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Stevensille Trailhead in Underhill Stae Park for a three-mile hike.

Take the little snowboarders to a terrain park, one especially for them. Last weekend, Loon in Lincoln unveiled two new parks for young riders – the Burton Riglet Park and Lil’ Stash.

The Burton Riglet Park is designed for 3- to 6-year-old snowboarders who are just getting started. Instructors ease the learning process by towing little riders through the park.

Families with slightly older snowboarders will find the Burton Lil’ Stash in a mellow glade with rollers, logs, bonks and carvings of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. It’s a quiet place to develop park and freeriding skills, and the easy gladed terrain lets aerially-challenged parents have fun, too.

Northern Vermont’s Jay Peak also has a Burton creation for kids, and one that partners with Disney. Buzz Lightyear has already arrived in the Northeast Kingdom and is slated to hold court in the five-acre snowboard park scheduled to open Jan. 18.

Take to the air at Sunapee. There’s more than one way to get air with the canopy zip line tour that serves up eight zip lines, three rappels and a rope bridge. Plus, the ski area has a new big air bag that allows skiers and riders a chance to practice and learn new tricks before taking them to snow, a sure-fire way to change things up in 2013.

(Marty Basch can be reached throughonetankaway.com.)

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