For the past 2 years one of my winter goals has been to go on a dogsled ride. When I took my family to Lake Placid in the February of 2012, there was a sign across the street from our hotel that read “dogsledding: $15.” Unfortunately, I noticed said sign just as we were leaving.
Fast forward to this past February for a return Lake Placid adventure. We had a solid weekend of snowshoeing and XC skiing already planned out and arrived in LP Friday afternoon around 2. We couldn’t check into our hotel room until 4, so it was the perfect opportunity to see if the dog sledding rides were still offered. We were in luck and headed down to Mirror Lake where a team of huskies were reportedly waiting. It ended up being the biggest disappointment of the trip. The sled was tiny, the dogs looked disinterested, the ride was literally a five-minute pull along a square pathway and we were the only people over five feet and the age of ten who were waiting. We called it a bust and decided that waiting for our room to open up at a bar was probably a better option. Another dog sled-less winter.
Dogsledding is still on my agenda for this year so imagine my delight when researching my last post, “8 Ideas for ‘Winter Fun’ Getaways” when I found a company that offers dog-sledding rides here in Pennsylvania. Even better, it’s located in NEPA. Arctic Paws Dog Sled Tours is operated out of the Golf Course at the Inn at Pocono Manor, not far from The Crossings just off of 380.
What makes Arctic Paws even more appealing is that it isn’t just a dog sled ride. It’s actual dog sledding lessons. You’re not just riding but learning to guide the sled and “mush” the dogs. If you’re wondering how much work it entails, it’s been described as a combination of skiing and mountain biking.
I emailed Susi, who owns Arctic Paws along with her husband Eric, because I had a few questions about the process. Susi was gracious enough to answer as well as provide these photographs. Arctic Paws has been operating for five years now by Susi and Eric who have a combined 20 years experience with the dogs. The dogs in question are Alaskan and Siberian Huskies. Some of them have been raised by the couple since they’ve been puppies while others are rescues. There are currently 22 dogs in the stable and while the lessons and rides last for an hour, you’re allowed to interact with the dogs for as long as you’d like.
Since snow is an integral part of the dog-sledding experience Arctic Paws opens reservations for tours in mid-December after the first major snowfall. Susi said that the best time to book is when there’s between 4-6 inches of snow and the weather is cold. Even if there is snow on the ground once it gets higher than 36-40 degrees then the dogs don’t like to really run. She recommends touring either first thing in the morning as the dogs are fresh and rearing to go or the last tour in the afternoon when no one else is hanging around and you have the dogs all to yourself. Unlike the Lake Placid tour, this is not just for children, although they are welcome if they’re over 5 years old.
Tours usually consist of 6-8 people so this is a great activity to do with a group of friends. Because the snow fall can be unpredictable reservations are only confirmed if there’s definitely enough snow to go out. The tours operate Saturday and Sunday 10-4 and the cost for an adult is $60.00.
If you want to build an entire weekend around dogsledding, there’s plenty to do. Barley Creek Brewing Company and Camelback Mountain are right in the immediate vicinity. The town of East Stroudsburg might be a nice place to stop for lunch or shopping and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area is also close by if you’re not too tired out. You can also check out my list of things to do in Scranton in NEPA if you want to make that your base camp for the weekend.