Here are some places to go for fun in the snow. Any public park is open to casual snow play and has restrooms and parking and often has picnic tables. The old-school practice of stopping along any snowy road and tramping over private hillsides is strongly discouraged, often by law enforcement.
PINECREST DAY-USE AREA: Banks of Pinecrest Lake are popular for sledding. Picnic tables are available and restrooms are open. Head east on Highway 108, turn onto Pinecrest Lake Road.
LONG BARN ICE RINK: The family-friendly rink has a windowed warm area for watching and skating aids for beginners. The rink, beside the Long Barn Lodge, is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through the winter holidays, said spokeswoman Caitlin Powers. Cost is $7.50 to skate, $2.50 for skate rental; 586-3533 or 800-310-3533; longbarn.com.
SPICER SNO-PARK: The closest sno-park to Modesto, Spicer has snowmobile trails, cross- country ski trails and snow play areas. Cost is $5 for the carload (buy ahead or at convenience stores nearby). Take Highway 4 to Spicer Road, about 45 miles east of Angels Camp; 795-1381; www.ohv.parks.ca.gov.
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HIGHWAY 108 SNO-PARK: This sno-park is six miles east of Strawberry on Highway 108. It has snowmobile trails, cross-country ski trails and snow play areas. Cost is $5 for the carload (buy ahead or at The Strawberry Store in Strawberry). 965-3434; www.ohv.parks.ca.gov.
BEAR VALLEY CROSS COUNTRY: This ski resort's cross-country section is open to snow play and features gentle to moderate hills for sledding and tubing (must rent resort's sleds and tubes). As of Saturday, the resort had a 46-inch base of packed powder. One-day pass: $22 adults; $15 for ages 13 to 17; $10 for 9 to 12; $1 for 8 and younger. Rentals: snowshoes, $20; sled, $10; tube, $15. Take Highway 4 to Bear Valley; 753-2834; www.bearvalleyxc.com.
LELAND HIGH SIERRA SNOWPLAY: A family-friendly lodge offers food, games and warmth. There was 2 to 3 feet of snow over the weekend, manager Mike Wright said. The facility has sleds, saucers and one-person tubes that tow to the top of the hill. Cost is $19 per person or $30 with tube tow rope privileges on holidays and weekends, $18 and $20 on weekdays. Take Highway 108 east past Sonora, turn right four miles past Strawberry onto Leland Meadows Road and continue two miles; www.snowplay.com.
DODGE RIDGE: This ski resort has bunny slopes and some snow play areas. Its Web site said it had 24 to 28 inches of packed powder. Skiers can drop off their 4- to 6-year-olds at a play program for about $100. Take Highway 108 past Sonora. At the "Y" take Pinecrest Lake Road, then take the first right onto Dodge Ridge Road; 965-3474; www.dodgeridge.com.