We are fortunate here in Fort Wayne, Indiana to benefit from the best of all seasons. I cherish a good snowfall and embrace these cold Indiana days. Why am I so keen on winter? Perhaps it’s because I always feel like a kid when I play in the snow. Catching a snowflake on my tongue, speeding down a hill in a laundry basket sled, feeling the crunch of snow beneath my boots – these all have a magical way of bringing out that carefree, childlike spirit.

Luckily, winter is no exception when it comes to finding fun and thrills in Fort Wayne. Below are a few ideas for outdoor fun in the snow. It’s not a comprehensive list; just a few suggestions to help you begin your adventure. What is your favorite winter outdoor activity? Did I overlook something amazing in this winter wonderland? Share your ideas in the comments below. By the way, did you pledge to become healthier in 2012? Playing outside in the snow is a great way to achieve that goal and you’ll be too busy having fun to notice. Winter Sports at Allen County Parks Our amazing County park system has an abundance of winter sports to enjoy. Bundle up and have fun cross-country skiing, sledding, ice-skating (pond and rink), snowmobiling and taking winter hikes. Check here for the latest ski conditions at Allen County Parks. If there is more than four inches of snow accumulation, visit Fox Island and Metea County Parks for cross-country skiing. They even offer a limited number of skis available for rent. Rental prices for both parks are $6.00 per hour for adults and $5.00 per hour for children 12 and under. Please note the parks stop renting around 4:00 pm each day so that all skiers are accounted for before the park closes. Owl Prowl January 7, 2012 (5:30 pm - 7:30 pm) Fox Island County Park, 7324 Yohne Road, 46809 Cost: $2.00 “We will gather indoors to discover whooo our resident owls are, and then head outdoors to try to call some in. Dress for the weather and for trails.” Registration for this event is required. Please contact Ron Zartman at rzartman@allencountyparks.org or (260) 449-3186. Cross Country Ski Clinic January 7, 2012 (10:00 am -12:00 pm) Fox Island County Park, 7324 Yohne Road, 46809 Cost: $7.00 includes one-hour rental or voucher for future ski rental. $3.00 if bringing own equipment. “Learn how equipment works, waxing vs. no-wax, purchasing, ski prep and maintenance, how to dress and receive basic instruction and practice on technique, weather permitting. Leave phone number, shoe size, height and weight when registering in order to reserve equipment.” Registration for this event is required. Please contact Ron Zartman at rzartman@allencountyparks.org or (260) 449-3186. Cross Country Ski Clinic January 14, 2012 (9:00 am - 12:00 pm) Metea County Park Nature Center, 8401 Union Chapel Road, 46845 Cost: $ 7.00 “Learn how ski equipment works, waxing vs. no-wax, what purchase is, ski prep and maintenance, and how to dress for the sport. After a basic instruction session, we will ski the trails of Metea and practice our technique, weather permitting.” Please pre-register for this event by January 11, 2012. For more information or to register please contact Michael Gobert at mgobert@allencountyparks.org or (260) 449-3777. Headwaters Ice Skating Rink Enjoy gliding around this iconic winter scene. Set in the heart of downtown (at Clinton & Superior streets), you’ll feel like you’re in a snow globe at Headwaters Park Ice Skating Rink. The rink offers concessions, skate sharpening services, and private ice rentals. Skate rental: $2 Regular Hours Monday-Thursday: 1-8 pm Friday: 12-10 pm Saturday: 11 am-10 pm Sunday: 12-8 pm Extended Holiday Hours (Through January 5) Monday-Friday: 12-10 pm Admission Age 13 and under: $3 Age 14 and over: $5 Kids age 13 and under skate FREE every Wednesday. Text Winterval Saturday, January 28 Sponsored by Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation, this new downtown festival is sure to be the highlight of the season. Parks & Rec are pros at providing fun-filled activities and now they’re bringing fun to the midst of winter! “Winterval” is an all day (and night) family-friendly bash in downtown Fort Wayne. As an added bonus, all of the events are FREE or offered at a steep discount. Stop by one or two events or be a trooper and party from sun up to sun down. Click here or contact Parks & Rec at (260) 427-6000 for more information. Winterval Schedule of Events: 9:30 am - 5 pm Historic Fort Wayne, Nouvelle Annee 1752 (Free Will Donation) 10 am - 5 pm Science Central (Half Price Admission) 10 am - 5 pm History Center (Half Price Admission) 11 am - 10 pm Headwaters Park Ice Skating, Figure Skating Exhibitions 1 – 2 pm Auer Center for Arts & Culture, Coffee Shop Talk about costume design for ballet performances 1 - 3 pm Lawton Park, Polar Bear Rugby Game (Free Admission) 1 - 5 pm Botanical Conservatory - Down on the Farm ($1 Off Admission) 2 - 5 pm Community Center - Winter Carnival (Free Admission) 5:30 – 6 pm Arts United Plaza, Northern Lights Exhibition, Public Art Display with an Emphasis on Lights (Free Admission) Sledding Hills Whooosh! Here is the insider information on where to catch the best slopes in Fort Wayne. Have fun and be careful out there! Shoaff Park (6401 St. Joe Rd.) Franke Park (3411 Sherman Blvd.) Ivan Lebamoff Reservoir Park (2300 Clinton) Metea County Park (8401 Union Chapel Rd.) *When we have enough snow accumulation, the sled hill at Metea County Park will be open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. Winter Running - Three Rivers Running Company Enjoy the great outdoors and stay motivated in the company of this friendly group. A local favorite, Three Rivers Running Company, hosts a running group each Wednesday. This group meets all year (yes, even in the winter) and is suitable for all ages and abilities. Try it – this will instantly boost your cool factor. Three Rivers Running Company 4039 N. Clinton St., Fort Wayne, IN 46805 Wednesday Night Running Group at 5:30 pm (260) 496-8000 Winter Walks Lindenwood Nature Preserve will host two nature walks this winter. Enjoy a guided walk through the woodlands while you stay on the lookout for signs of various critters. Saturday, January 21 and Saturday, February 28 1:00 – 2:00 pm Cost: $3.00 Lindenwood Nature Preserve, 600 Lindenwood Avenue Please contact the Parks & Recreation office at (260) 427-6000 or simply click here to register. Pond Skating If you’re in the mood for nostalgic pond skating or some friendly pond hockey, then keep reading. Ice skating is available when the ponds have frozen to a safe level. How will you know when it’s safe to skate? Signs are posted around the pond, announcements will be made in the newspaper, contact the Visitors Center or call Parks & Rec at (260) 427-6000. Pond skating is available at both Reservoir and Lakeside parks. Lace up and enjoy! Ivan Lebamoff Reservoir Park, 2300 Clinton St., 46803 Lakeside Park, 1401 Lake Avenue, 46805