Groomed trail
Yes
Elevation Gain
1,000.00 ft (304.80 m)
Distance
13.00 mi (20.92 km)
Warming hut
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

When the cold sets in and the snow begins to fall, the buzz of life that engulfs the vibrant woodlands of central New York's forests throughout the warmer months is covered in a thick coat of powder. The chirping birds, croaking toads, eager fishermen, and curious hikers who provide the summer's perpetual energy take shelter, leaving the woods in a state of eerie tranquility. However, this state doesn't come without enchantment. For some, the mysterious serenity of nature in the winter is too enticing to ignore, and they choose to bundle up and head out into the cold. For these individuals, especially those who enjoy strapping on a pair of cross-country skis, Stoney Pond State Forest's 13-mile network of designated ski trails makes it one of the better locales for a winter adventure.

Located at a convenient distance from Syracuse, and right around the corner from Cazenovia, Stoney Pond State Forest is a great option for local skiers who want to get outside but don't want to make the trek all the way up north. Although the quantity of snow won't quite match that of the Adirondacks, the forest sits on a hilltop and tends to accumulate more powder than the surrounding area. Along with this, even though there are snowmobile-accessible roads in the forest, they are not permitted on the ski trails, and it is not uncommon to spend an outing in complete solitude. 

However, what really sets these state lands apart from other nearby skiing hubs is the way in which they are maintained. After recieving permission from the Department of Environmental Conservation in 2018, a group of local skiing enthusiasts has taken it upon themselves to groom the trails. Although the frequency of the grooming may vary and likely won't always encompass all 13 miles, the experiences I've had can vouch for a maze of smooth trails large enough to keep you busy for an entire day. 

Free access to a system of trails as large as this one is absolutely unheard of, and those that are making it possible are doing it completely of their own accord. So if you make it out to Stoney Pond State Forest this winter and see someone working their butt off, winding their groomer through the woods, make sure you take the time to thank them.

For additional information, vist the DEC's Stoney Pond State Forest information page.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Groomed trails. No snowmobiles. Free.

Cons

Narrow trails.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

1,660.00 ft (505.97 m)

Highest point

1,900.00 ft (579.12 m)

Features

Family friendly
Wildlife

Trail type

Loop

Typically multi-day

No

Snowmobiles allowed

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Comments

Right in our backyard!
02/23/2019
Sam, great write-up!
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