Fun ways to combat cabin fever in Hollis, Brookline and beyond

This winter seems endless, and even snow lovers are beginning to think, “Enough!”

Before cabin fever begins to set in and you start to feel like Jack in “The Shining,” remember there is a lot to do around here to shake the midwinter blues.

Being in nature and being active are classic cabin fever cures. Research shows that going outside and being active for even brief periods can help us feel better.

Skiing does the trick for some, but it can be an expensive sport and not for everyone. However, it’s easy to strap on a pair of snowshoes and head to the nearest fields and woods. Or, there’s the 2,200-acre Beaver Brook Association in Hollis and Milford.

The land is open from dawn to dusk for people to snowshoe and cross-country ski. Visit to find its calendar filled with outdoor events, including full-moon hikes, fitness hikes, hiking with dogs, a parent-child nature hour and animal tracking hikes.

On Saturday night, Beaver Brook will combine snowshoeing with romance at its annual Valentine’s Day couples snowshoe and bonfire. The cost is $40 per couple, and registration is required. Call 465-7787 or visit

From 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, you can snowshoe or hike for an hour (and Beaver Brook provides snowshoes) to work up an appetite for hearty stew. Chef Liz Barbour will show how to make two healthy stews. Recipes and tasting are included.

Here are other fun wintertime activities:

Ice skating

Amherst opened its second ice rink recently, so now there’s one at the middle school and a smaller one on Middle Street, which is a good size for teaching young children to skate.

Brookline has a small community ice area next to the ballpark, and Milford now has two ice rinks at Shepard Park.

Bedford has a new ice rink at the new Bedford Village Commons off Route 101.

Sleigh riding

Merrimack’s winter fun opportunities will be evident at its Winter Carnival on Saturday, Feb. 21, at Wasserman Park, where there will be ice fishing, a cardboard-box sled contest and snowmobile rides courtesy of the local snowmobile club.

People can snowshoe at Wasserman Park or the Horse Hill Nature Preserve, and the town recreation department is planning a cross-country skiing area.

Bedford has two sledding hills, one by the town playground at 20 County Road and the other at Benedictine Park off Wallace Road.

Not far over the town border is Amherst’s popular Bragdon Hill, on Route 101, near the LaBelle Winery.

Wilton has Carnival Hill, of Whiting Hill Road, both open for sleigh riding all winter.

Contra dances

Since colonial times, New Englanders have been gathering in town halls for contra dancing, a regional version of square dancing. Every fourth Friday, people of all ages gather in the Milford Town Hall auditorium to dance to old-time and Irish fiddle tunes.

No partner is required, since dancers switch partners throughout the evening, and there’s no need for dancing talent or experience, since the caller explains the steps at every dance.

The cost is $7 for adults and 50 cents for children ages 6-12. For more information, call 249-0625.