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Snowfall cheered by ski resorts, winter sports enthusiasts

January 21, 2016
By Jimmy McCarthy ( , Westfield Republican

To the delight of ski resorts and winter enthusiasts, snowfall and frigid temperatures have returned to the region with force.

After a warm start to the winter season, outdoor recreational activities are picking up with Monday snow accumulations throughout Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. Temperatures will look to stay below the freezing mark through Sunday with chances for more snow, according to National Weather Service forecasts.

An increase in outdoor activities at Peek'n Peak Resort in Clymer began two weeks ago as cold temperatures came and rounds of snow pummelled the area. Chris Scott, vice president and owner of Peek'n Peak, said trails and lifts didn't open until Dec. 26 - the latest start in the resort's history. Scott said the weekend saw high attendance numbers as many people had a three-day weekend.

"Obviously, December was very slow," Scott said. "It was not cold enough to make snow and it was a challenge during the first couple weeks of December. We're getting a real healthy dump that all ski resorts around here needed. We sure hope it stays around."

Holiday Valley in Ellicottville saw similar activity with 6 inches of new snow reported Monday morning. Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director, said the trails were filled with people as 45 slopes and eight lifts were open along with cross-country trails, the Mountain Coaster and tubing park.

Snowmobiling is ramping up as all trail systems and clubs opened Monday, according to the Chautauqua County trail conditions hotline. Over 400 trails in the county are groomed regularly during snowmobile season due in part to the hundreds of volunteers and private homeowners giving their time and land. Over 5,000 snowmobiles are registered in the county with many more sleds from other counties and states coming to enjoy the trails.

The Ellery Sno-Cruisers opened Monday as Ryan Crandall, member, said interested riders from Ohio and Buffalo were calling. Crandall said many out-of-county riders are attracted with extensive trail networks and lake effect snows that constantly batter the area during the season. The club's trails run through Stockton, Cassadaga, Bemus Point and Greenhurst.

"We actually just opened our trails Monday for the first time this season," Crandall said. "We're definitely thrilled to see this snow and are hoping for more. One of the groomers was out getting the trails ready for snowmobilers. The more snow we get the better trails pack down to get a better base."

Snowmobilers are urged to ride with caution during snowy conditions and reduced visibility. Riders should also be aware of waterholes as some portions of the ground remain unfrozen.



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