Ice Skating Is Alive and Well on the East End

With mild temperatures throughout 2012 and no snow on the East End until the year’s last days, 2013 should prove to be a bit colder and whiter than what we’ve had the last 12 months. And with that cold weather comes ice skating—a time-honored rural winter tradition.

There are a number of excellent spots to skate, both natural and manmade, on the East End, though Southampton Town’s ice rink in Hampton Bays is not among them this season. The local rink needs a liner replacement, which will cost about $4,000 according to Hampton Bays/Westhampton Patch, but the Town needs those funds for more critical repairs relating to Superstorm Sandy.

Westhampton Beach’s ice rink, which is usually at the Village Marina, may also remain closed this winter, and so far, Riverhead has yet to complete its plans to create a public rink on the Peconic Riverfront. Despite this bad news, skating options still exist on the East End, especially if the weather gets cold enough for pond ice.

The Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton has provided great skating, as well as hockey clubs and lessons for years now, and it continues to do so in 2013. The rink is already open and going strong with open skating and programs for toddlers, students and adults. Buckskill has a cozy clubhouse with skate rentals and an open fire where skaters can relax and watch the action on the ice with a hot cup of soup, hot chocolate or coffee from their full service snack bar.

Drop by the Buckskill Winter Club at 178 Buckskill Road in East Hampton. Call them at 631-324-2243 for more info or view the full calendar of events at www.buckskillwinterclub.com.

On the North Fork, people are already skating at the Mitchell Park rink in the Village of Greenport. Public sessions begin at 3 p.m. and end at 5 p.m. on weekdays (it closes at 6 p.m. on Mondays) and skaters can hit the ice as early as 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The rink has youth hockey after public skating five days per week and adult hockey begins after that three days a week. Greenport also offers lessons, rentals, skating school and family nights. Admission is very reasonable, starting at $3 for kids and seniors.

For more about the Greenport rink at Mitchell Park, call the Village of Greenport at 631-477-0248 or visit www.villageofgreenport.org for full schedules and info.

To skate on natural pond ice, East Hampton’s Town Pond has long been a local favorite. The shallow manmade pond is fairly safe, even if the ice did break, and it draws hundreds of happy skaters when temperatures drop well below freezing.

For an even more free and natural experience, Hook Pond in East Hampton has some of the best and longest skating around, but the depth and remoteness of the pond poses serious danger unless the weather in bone-chillingly cold and the ice is absolutely frozen solid. But in the right conditions, one can skate farther and freer than just about anywhere. Please tread carefully here.

The same goes for Southampton’s Turtle Pond, Round Pond and Big and Little Fresh Ponds. All of these options can be great places to skate if you’re careful and considerate.

Ryder’s Pond in North Haven is another old favorite spot for skaters.

Check your Google Maps satellite view for ponds in your area, but be very careful to check the salt content of each pond and whether or not they may have natural warm springs feeding into them, like Trout Pond in Sag Harbor. Saltwater and warm springs do not make for safe ice, if they make for ice at all.

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