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Aron Bosworth | 11.06.2018

Winter in the Adirondacks is breathtaking, and fortunately it is a long season for those seeking snow-filled adventure. Because there are 6 million acres to explore, cross-country skiing is a fittingly favorite pastime in the Adirondacks. With miles of trails extending over varied terrain, the Adirondacks are a ski destination that appeals to both beginning and expert skiers. Expect twisting runs and downhill glides that are surrounded by scenic mountain vistas and towering forests. Those who are new to the sport can seek out less challenging terrain and ski lessons on groomed trails at select locations. Whether it's under the stars, around a frozen lake, or on terrain designed for an Olympian, the Adirondacks has it. Below is a list of groomed and backcountry trails to get you started.

Dewey Mountain Recreation Center, Saranac Lake

A 2,050-foot mountain with a total of 7.5 miles of groomed trails and backcountry-esque trails for those in search of a bigger challenge. All trails are one-way to avoid oncoming traffic. Dewey offers ski rentals and night skiing on select nights. Locals love their ski jam nights with live music, food, and drinks. It’s all family friendly, and it is located just 1 mile southwest of downtown Saranac Lake.

The Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC), Paul Smiths

The VIC has 9 miles of groomed trails and 25 miles of backcountry trails located on approximately 2,700 acres, some of which are fit for skate and classic skiing. Visitors here can choose from a full range of ski trail difficulties and lengths. There is an indoor space to rent skis, gear up, and to warm those muscles. The trails are scenic with undulating hills. The VIC is unique in that it contains every Adirondack ecosystem except for alpine tundra. Expect to see expansive wetlands and myriad ponds and lakes.

Tupper Lake Groomed XC Ski Center, Tupper Lake

In winter, the Tupper Lake Golf Club is transformed into 3.2 miles of groomed trails, a groomed snow tubing hill, and 2 miles of more challenging backcountry trails. The six main trails that connect Tupper Lake Golf Course to Big Tupper Ski Area offer a variety of terrain and scenic vistas extending to the surrounding lakes and mountains. You can bring the dog along, and it’s open to night skiing with a good headlamp. They host full moon parties with night skiing and bonfires in addition to an annual Brew-ski. The trails are free.

Camp Santanoni, Newcomb

A 9-mile round-trip backcountry trail with slight elevation gain that is great for a leisurely ski. This ski trail is actually a seasonal road, so it’s nice and wide in order to accommodate vehicles in the summer. It leads to the historic Great Camp Santanoni, once a destination for the wealthiest of travelers during the Gilded Age. The camp is open for tours during the weekend, making it a great ski destination. There are no ski rentals, and the trail is free.

The Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC), Newcomb

This 236-acre property has 3.6 miles of backcountry trails that follow the shores of Rich Lake and Rich Lake Outlet. These trails are known for their stunning scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities, all on a scenic peninsula. Various loops are possible, ranging from easy to more challenging. There are no ski rentals, and it is free. Some trails here connect to the Camp Santanoni Trail.

North Hudson Cross-country Ski Trails, North Hudson

The North Hudson Cross-country ski trails consist of 9 miles of well-marked backcountry trails on property that was once home to Frontier Town, an Old West theme park. The remnants of the theme park remain, and the trails range from easy to moderate; many are considered great for beginners. There are no ski rentals, and the trails are free.

Lapland Lake Nordic Center, Northville

Lapland Lake Nordic Center is surrounded by 24 miles of groomed trails that are fit for classic and skate skiing and that range from easy to expert. Ski across a frozen lake or skate one of the more challenging trails designed by former Olympian Olavi Hirvonen. Lapland offers a full resort experience with ski rentals, lessons, tubing, ice skating, sauna, restaurant and bar, and on-site lodging in Tupas (cabins).

Fern Park Recreation Area, Inlet

This area has 20 miles of groomed trails along with a warming hut, sledding hill, and indoor skating rink. The trails are wide. They offer both singletrack and doubletrack trails. Enjoy night skiing on 1 mile of well-lit trails. There are no ski rentals, and the trails are free.

CATS Trails, Lake Champlain Region

This is a large network of 50 trails spanning over 100 miles and ranging from easy to moderately difficult. Incredible views extend along the Adirondack coast, which spans Lake Champlain. This is a major trail network in the valley that CATS (Champlain Area Trails) builds and maintains. Expect a backcountry experience that’s never far from town. The trails are free.

Jackrabbit Ski Trail, Keene to Paul Smiths

This 31-mile trail runs from Keene to Paul Smiths and connects with four ski centers and several backcountry routes along the way, spanning several Adirondack communities. Expect a serious hill between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and between Old Mountain Road in Lake Placid and Keene. You can choose to tackle only a portion of the trail or take on the challenge all at once. Most of the trail is backcountry and free.

Mount Van Hoevenberg, Lake Placid

An impressive 31 miles of groomed trails ranging from easy to expert and fit for classic and skate skiing. There is a range of varied terrain with wide trails because they were designed for the 1980 Winter Olympics. Pull off along the trail to get waffles at a cozy trailside cabin. They also offer lessons, can make snow, and are the biathlon training center for Olympians. Enjoy a lodge with ski rentals and a full bar with food. If you’re in town, check out the International Loppet race that will be held here in March, 2019. It involves eating and drinking at designated rest stops as well as skiing to the finish line, and it is a spectacle not to be missed.

Cascade Cross-country Ski Center, Lake Placid

Explore 12 miles of groomed trails that are ideal for all skill levels. There is a variety of terrain here, including some good downhill runs. Cascade is a family-run operation with a cozy feel and good local craft beer on tap in the lodge. The main lodge features a Nordic shop with ski rentals, a bar and restaurant, and onsite lodging. They also host night skiing with full moon parties and bonfires.


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