We line the kids up at the top of the hill, count to three, and then push them down. Then we grab our own snow tubes, line them up, and let the teens working the hill throw us down. Like sledding, with its quick drop and wind-in-your-face thrill, snow tubing takes the crashing element out of the equation with tracks that are corralled. And with a bouncy ride, it’s more comfortable, too. If you sit or lay on top of the tubes without touching the ground, you go faster. If our kids were littler, under 42 inches, we’d use a double tube, sort of two tubes stitched together, and race down the hill as one.
Our group's 4-7-year-olds rarely waited for us at the bottom. Instead, like the many older kids and teens there, they just picked up their pull-strings and tugged their snow tubes right back up the hill. Past the mini-lodge that serves hot chocolate, there’s a sort of conveyor belt to bring people to the top of the hill. The people who work it are encouraging and sweet with the kids. They can slow the belt down if anyone misses a step or needs more time to step off at the top.
Hunter Mountain’s Snow Tube Park is the largest in New York State. In the shadow of the mountain’s spectacular trails, there are tubing hills of varying heights with trails of varying lengths, plus a Mini Tubing Park for kids and families. There’s a snack bar, but you can also bring in your own food, and eat inside the lodge or at the outdoor picnic tables. Our party of three families never found the fire pit, but we weren’t looking that hard either. Once we started going up and down the hill, even the parents didn’t want to stop. By the end of our session that day, it was just starting to snow shower. The sky had darkened and a rainbow bent itself above the mountains for our last run.
Hunter Mountain’s Snow Tubing Park, 64 Klein Avenue in Hunter: Two-hour sessions, every hour on the hour, Fridays 5-7p, Saturdays 10a-7p, and Sundays 10a-3p; $20 per person, $30 for kids 33”-42” with adult. Check the website for special holiday hours. Friday Night Family Fun Pak is $52 for four people, Friday nights only. Ask about birthday parties and fundraisers. Book ahead online or purchase at the door. Space is limited in any given session and hours may change, so call ahead to confirm availability: (518) 263-4223.
There are lots of wonderful restaurants for all tastes and budgets in Hunter and Tannersville. If your journey takes you through Palenville, though, make a pit stop at the Circle W Café for hot drinks and the most amazing sandwiches for $10 and under (the grilled cheese is just $5.) It’s got easy café seating (check inside the antique drawers for napkin notes from patrons of the past), family-friendly service, plus a general store where you can buy staples like milk and eggs as well as vintage tin toys!