The Monmouth County park is one of the only places in this part of the state that offers groomed trails for cross country skiers -- or those who just want to borrow equipment to try the sport for the first time on the edge of the nearby field.
"So often snow sends us inside," said Monmouth County Parks Superintendent of Recreation Andy Spears at the Thompson Park Ski Hut on Friday. "But when we see snow, we want to go outside."
"Kids have that intuitive nature to go outside, and parents should reward them with coming to the parks, where they can go sledding and skiing and even see wildlife sometimes -- like a fox, or deer, or a coyote."
Typically, the Ski Hut will open up to rent out the boots, skis and poles as soon as the snow is three to four inches deep. A trail groomer is used to smooth out a path for skiers when the snow gets six inches deep. Powdery snow is the best kind for skiing, and on any given snowy Saturday, there may be two dozen people in the park on skis, said Spears.
Families are encouraged to give the skis or snowshoes a try, even if only for a 20 minute foray on the relatively flat terrain and gentle hills. All sizes can be accommodated. Snow boots start as size one for young children, and reach up to 13 for adults.There is enough equipment for 30 to 40 skiers, and between 20-30 snowshoers, said Spears, so naturally it is best to come early for best choice and fit.
Bring along a camera phone for a "selfie" on skis with a backdrop of Marlu Lake, says Principal Park Ranger Mary Mautner. It's worth a souvenir.
IF YOU GO
The rental operation is at the Ski Hut located adjacent to the Three Barns Parking Lot at Thompson Park.
Cross-country ski and snowshoe equipment are available for rent, conditions permitting. Rentals are available when there is at least three inches or more of snow. Skis and/or snowshoes are available on a first come, first serve basis; you may call in advance to see if your size is available, as sizes are limited. Equipment can be held for a maximum of 1 hour.
Everyday from 9am-4pm
Ski Equipment: $15.00; Snowshoes: $10
Equipment rented after 3pm must be returned by 12noon the next day.
Evening Rentals (January 7-March 31)
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 5-8:30pm
(If there are 3+ inches of snow for a night on the trails.)
Equipment must be returned end of evening. Headlamps recommended. For more additional information, please call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.