Nordic Skiing New York

Adirondack Forest Preserve

The Adirondack State Park is the place to head if you want a wilderness experience in the highest mountains in the state. The Eastern High Peaks is best-suited for true mountaineers. The Pharaoh Lake, Siamese Ponds, and Handerondah Wildernesses offer extensive trail networks into the backcountry. If an organized trail system is what you want, try the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area, an international standard course with 20 miles of looped trails.

Violent blowdowns ocassionally rumble through the Adirondacks. Enormous amounts of deadfall can change conditions drastically and take years to clean up. So if you are headed into the backcountry, be sure to check locally about what to expect.

Symbols for Trail Rating: N-novice, I-intermediate, E-expert
Click on maps for closer views.

Caroga Lake Area

Fulton County
USGS 7.5'; Quads: Canada Lake, Caroga lake

The trail from Pine Lake to Green Lake to Indian Lake may be entered at Pine Lake or Green Lake. It is about 3 1/2 miles in length and includes steep areas. The trail is groomed by Fulton County.

Royal Mountain Area

Fulton County
USGS 7.5' Quad: Lassellsville

The trail is adjacent to the private Royal Mountain Ski area and can be entered from the ski area or from Glasgow Road public highway. The trail which includes steep areas, is groomed by Fulton County.

Schroon Lake Area

Hoffman Notch Trail (I)
USGS 15'; Quad: Schroon Lake

This north-south route through Hoffman Notch is 7 miles long. The stream crossings are not bridged. The northern end terminates on the road connecting North Hudson with Newcomb. The southern end is reached from a side road off Hoffman Road from the Village of Schroon Lake.

Northerly Approach:
Leave Interstate 1-87 at Exit 29, and drive west on Boreas Road towards Blue Ridge. In about 4 miles, pass the Elk Lake Road on the right. Continue an additional one-half mile to a sign at the crossing of the Branch river.

Southerly Approach:
Leave the Village of Schroon Lake on Hoffman Road, thence on Young's Road and Potash Hill Road.

Pharoah Lake Wilderness Area

Novice trails indicated by N; All others I
USGS 15'; Quad: Paradox Lake
DEC"Trails in the Schroon Lake Region"

This wilderness area contains a network of trails that connect 22 small and large ponds. There are 14 lean-tos dispersed in this area. The effects of past forest fires may be seen as bare snow slopes on some of the mountains. The area exhibits many cliffs and ledges which add to its scenic attractiveness.

Interesting ski tours can be found on the trails leading to (1) Goose Pond, a secluded pond set deep in a hemlock forest, (2) Crane Pond, (3) continuing past the lower slopes of Crane Pond to the lower slopes of Pharaoh Mountain, past the Pharaoh Mountain trail toward Pharaoh Lake, from the Village of Adirondack and via Pharaoh Lake Road north of Brant Lake.

Those entrance points that are grouped around the northern perimeter of the area are approached via Route 74 which begins at the Northway, 1-87, exit 28 just north of Schroon Lake. The eastern end of Route 74 starts at Ticonderoga.

The two entrances into the southern perimeter are approached by leaving 1-87 at Exit 24 via Brant Lake, or leaving 1-87 at Exit 25 at Pottersville.

For Sucker Brook Horse Trail
Leave Pottersville north on Route 9, turn right at a sign for the Word of Life Camp. Follow a secondary road around the southern end of Schroon Lake for about 4 miles to the Village of Adirondack. At the general store in Adirondack, proceed due east for 0.2 miles to a Y fork; turn left and continue to a T intersection. Take the left fork again. The road shortly dead-ends in a parking lot at the start of the Sucker Brook horse trail. For Pharaoh Lake Road Horse Trail
Take the Adirondack Northway, 1-87 to Exit 24. Turn right on Route NY 8 leading to Brant Lake. Follow around the shore of Brant Lake to its further end. Turn left on Palisades Road which will continue around the end of the lake. The road will veer to the left again. Two-tenths of a mile beyond this turn, or 1.2 miles from Route NY 8 turn right on Pharaoh Lake Road and follow it to the parking lot. From the unloading area, the trail leads northerly to the crossing of Mill Brook and follows the south side of Pharaoh Lake Brook to the outlet of Pharaoh Lake Brook to the outlet of Pharaoh Lake and the intersection with the Sucker Brook horse trail to the left. The trail continues up the southern side of Pharaoh Lake for about a mile to 2 lean-tos and a horse shelter. From here the trail turns easterly and then southerly terminating at the Springhill Ponds.

Eastern High Peaks Area

USGS 15'; Quad: Mt. Marcy

Click on map for an enlarged view.
The Eastern High Peaks Area is primarily a mountaineering area. The upper slopes of these mountains are hazardous locations characterized by sweeping winds, extreme cold, glare ice, and sudden white-outs. The climbs themselves are too steep and narrow to be practical for most Nordic skiers. Therefore, Nordic skiing opportunities are best limited to those valley and approach trails as indicated.

The principal approaches to the Eastern High Peaks are from the Village of Keene Valley and from Adirondack Loj, both of which are reached from Route 73. A third approach from the southwest is at the upperworks trailhead located at the end of the Tahawus County road off Rt. 28N.

USGS 15'; Quads: Mt. Marcy, Santanoni

Routes from Adirondack Loj, and from South Meadows. (The truck trail-N, others-I) Adirondack Loj is located at the end of Adirondack Loj Road which branches from Route 73, 5 miles east of Lake Placid. Parking is available for a fee. South Meadows is found on a side road that branches left from Adirondack Loj Road, 3.8 miles from Route 73. The truck trail into Marcy Dam starts at South Meadows.

The summer hiking trail to Marcy Dam and thence to Lake Colden is heavily used by snowshoers and hikers and the snow is often not suitable for Nordic skiing. The preferable route to Marcy Dam is via the South Meadows road, and then the truck trail.

A mile beyond Marcy Dam, on either the blue or yellow trails, the routes quickly become steep and narrow. This area is remote and should be reserved for only expert Nordic skiers, well versed in wilderness travel and winter survival.

The Johns Brook Trail from the Garden parking area in Keene Valley to Johns Brook Lodge and thence on the Orebed leanto. Hogback leanto and Klondike Notch is also suitable for cross country skiing.

It is important to know and remember that almost all the trails in this area are also hiking trails. While most use skis or snowshoes, occasionally hikers will walk the trails and severely damage the surface with deep footprints and"post holes".

Mt. Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area
This area contains about 20 miles of looped trails built to international cross-country ski trail standards, and designed for both recreational skiing and formal races. It was the site for the 1980 Olympic cross- country and biathlon Nordic skiing events. It is one of the outstanding Nordic skiing facilities in the east.

It is found on Route 73 between Lake Placid and Keene, about 7 miles southeast of Lake Placid and 7 miles southwest of Keene.

The trail system is laid out in interlocking loops so that a route of any desired distance can be selected. All loops start and end at a central stadium. Trail maps are posted throughout the area showing the direction to the stadium.

Also completed in 1979 are additional trails for the 50 km (32 mile) Olympic ski event. These will also be available for recreational use.

Upper Saranac Lake-Lake Clear Area

Horse Trail Complex to Rat Pond, Bone Pond (N) and, Fish Pond (I)
USGS 15'; Quad: St. Regis

This area contains a number of short level loop circuits on both sides of Route 30, and an additional 5 mile bridle path to Fish Pond. Except for a steep spot on the Fish Pond trail 2 miles from the start, these routes are recommended for intermediate skiing.

From Saranac Lake, take Route 86 to Lake Clear Junction. Continue on Route 30 about 3 miles to the intersection of Forest Home Road to the left. The Department of Environmental Conservation's Saranac Inn headquarters is found on the right. The trail starts just west of the headquarters. It crosses the old railroad bed and follows the railroad for ]/4 mile before turning into the woods to Fish Pond. The short loops to Rat Pond and Bone Pond are recommended for novice skiers.

Tupper Lake Area

Cold River Horse Trail System (I to E)
USGS 15'; Quads: Long Lake-Santanoni
DEC"Horse Trails in NYS"

Originally laid out to provide experience horsemen with 30 mile circuits in a wilderness setting, this trail system also provides routes having widths and grades suitable for Nordic skiing.

The distances are such that these complete circuits can only be attempted in winter by persons of extraordinary skill and endurance in combination with very favorable snow conditions. The winter use of these trails can, therefore, only be recommended as in-and-out routes. Of these, the Racquette Falls trip (I) is the most popular involving a 10 mile round trip. Only the starts of the other routes are indicated. For complete information, refer to ''Horse Trails in New York State" and "Trails in the High Peaks Region," both available from Department Headquarters, 50 Wolf Road, Albany, New York 12233.

From Tupper Lake, take Route 3 east 6 miles to Wawbeek Corners. Keep right on Route 3, pass Panther Pond/ and turn right on Ampersand Road in the hamlet of Corey's, coming 2.4 miles from Wawbeek Corners. Pass the Stoney Creek Ponds on the left. The road is plowed in winter only to the bridge that crosses the Stoney Creek Ponds outlet. Limited roadside parking is available.

Trombley Landing (N)
USGS 15'; Quad: Long Lake

From Wawbeek Corners, a short trail leaves generally south to the Racquette River at Trombley's Landing, distance 1 1/2 miles. This route is suitable for novices.

Newcomb Area

The Santanoni Preserve (I)
USGS 15'; Quads: Newcomb-Santanoni

Click on map for an enlarged view.
Take Route 28N to Newcomb. Near the center of town, at the west end of Harris Lake, the trail into the Santanoni Preserve departs from a barrier on the north side of Lake Harris Inlet. The distance to Camp Santanoni is 5 miles.

The Northville Lake Placid Trail

DEC;"The Northville Placid Trail"

The 132 mile long Northville-Placid Trail enters the woods at Benson, crosses Route 8 at Piseco, crosses Route 28 at Lake Durant, crosses Route 28N at Long Lake and emerges from the forest at Averyville, a few miles from Lake Placid.

Between these access points, the wilderness sections extend from 25 to 35 miles of unbroken stretches. The trail has blue foot-trail markers.

Sections of this famous wilderness trail include terrain suitable for skiing and are in the scope of a 12 mile round trip. Details are given below.

Benson to Silver Lake Lean-to (I)

USGS 15' Quad: Lake Pleasant

The trail from Benson is a gentle but continuous climb to Silver Lake, with very few steep spots. Round trip to Silver Lake is 12.6 miles. the return is an excellent, almost continuous ride.

Proceeding on Route 30, turn west on Benson Road 3.2 miles north of Northville. Follow this road to an iron bridge, 6 miles from Route 30. After crossing the iron bridge, bear right on a dirt road at a triangle where the blacktop road swings sharply left. Continue about 1 mile or as far as the road is plowed.

South from Piseco (I)
USGS 15'; Quad: Piseco

The Northville-Placid Trail crosses Route 8 at Piseco just east of the suspension bridge over the Sacandaga River, a distance of 8 miles. This requires that about 600 feet elevation loss must be reclimbed on the return trip; the distance is 8 miles.

North from Piseco (I)
USGS 15'; Quad: Piseco

Click on map for an enlarged view.
The trail north of Piseco is almost level for the first 2.5 miles. It then ascends a wet weather streambed which is subject to washouts in thaws, exposing large rocks. Beyond this point, the trail moves over generally even ground to the crossing of Fall Stream. The trail then descends to the crossing of the Jessup River, 7 miles from Piseco. Beyond this point it is 33 miles to the next plowed road. A large number of lumber roads intersect the trail in the next few miles. It is not recommended to proceed much beyond the Jessup River crossing.

Stephens Pond, Cascade Pond and Tirrell Pond (I)
USGS 15'; Quad: Blue Mt.

The Northville-Placid Trail crosses Route 30, 3 miles east of the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake, South of Rt. 30, it connects with trails to the Cascade Pond and Rock Pond. North of Route 30, there is a connecting trail between the north end of Tirrell Pond and the Blue Mt. Lake-Long Lake highway. All of these trails are suitable for cross country skiing.

Indian Lake Area 

Whortleberry Pond (I)
USGS 15;' Quad: Newcomb

The trail into Whortleberry Pond and Ross Pond starts from the north side of Route 28 about 7 miles east of Indian Lake. A Department sign marks the trailhead. This route is a jeep road for most of its length. There is a steep spot going over the height of land north of Bell Mountain.

The Abanakee Loop (N)

USGS 15' Quad: Blue Mountain

Located about 1/2 mile to the east of the center of Indian Lake Village, opposite Lake Adirondack, the Abanakee Loop is designed to acquaint novice skiers with Adirondack wilderness skiing conditions. It is a compact trail network that touches upon Lake Abanakee, and no part of it is more than a mile from the highway. The trail starts at a short side road just beyond Gendreau's Cabins on Route 30.

North Creek Area

Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area (I)(E)
USGS 15'; Quad: 13th Lake

The principal Nordic skiing route runs approximately north-south from Thirteenth Lake coming out on Route 8, about 4 miles west of Baker's Mills. It follows the Sacandaga River for most of its length.

The Shanty Brook section off Route 8 goes over a shoulder of Eleventh Mountain. The descent down the north slope of this mountain is steep and is hazardous under frozen snow conditions. The remainder of the trail has generally easy grades.

A side trail to the Siamese Ponds branches to the west about 4 miles from Route 8 an additional distance of 2 1/2 miles. The grades on this portion are steeper than the rest of the trail. There is a leanto at this trail intersection. The total distance from the foot of Thirteenth Lake to Route 8 is approximately 12 miles.

The Northern terminus of the route is found by taking Route 28 to North Creek and then to North River. About 5 miles from North Creek and 1 mile beyond North River look for a road, left, marked for Thirteenth Lake and for Garnet Hill Lodge.

For the southern approach, take Route 28 to Wevertown and turn west on Route 8. The sign for Shanty Brook and Siamese Ponds is about 10 miles west on Route 8 from Wevertown.

Lower Slopes of Crane Mountain (N)
This is a short novice trail about 1 mile long from the trail head to the Crane Mountain Observers cabin.

Take Route 28 to Wevertown, and turn west on Route 8. In about 11/2 miles reach Johnsburg, and turn south on South Johnsburg Road. Follow this for approximately 7 miles to a right-hand turn marked with a sign"Crane Mt. Trailhead." Continue for almost 2 miles and turn right again at a second corner similarly marked. Follow this road to the end, about half a mile.

Gore Mountain Ski Center, North Creek (N) (I)
In addition to lift serviced downhill skiing, the Gore Mountain Ski Center has added a number of cross-country ski trails. There is a half-mile loop for novices, a 4-mile intermediate trail, and a 3 mile wilderness trail. Information and trail maps are available at the main lodge.

Cranberry Lake Region

USGS 15'; (I-E) Quad: Cranberry Lake
DEC"Trails in the Cranberry Lake Region"

The Five Ponds Wilderness Area, southwest of Cranberry Lake is one of the most remote and least used areas of New York State. Penetration of this area in winter is a true test of wilderness skills. It is suitable only for people who carry and know how to use field repair materials and survival equipment. There are about 40 miles of trails in this area.

Starting point is the Village of Wanakena, which is 2 miles south of NY Route 3, joining Watertown with Tupper Lake. The turnoff to Wanakena is 4 miles east of Benson Mines, and 8 miles west of Cranberry Lake.

In Wanakena, cross a one-lane bridge across the Oswegatchie River. The High Falls truck trail goes straight ahead. For the Dead Creek Flow truck trail, turn left after crossing the bridge, and go one-half mile beyond.

The Dead Creek Flow route covers more interesting terrain and reaches Dead Creek Flow, a long narrow arm of Cranberry Lake in about 2 miles A red marked hiking trail goes around the end of the Flow to a lean-to on the opposite shore.

The High Falls truck trail is generally level for most of its length. The Leary trail, blue markers, branches to the left in 1.4 miles. In combination with the truck trail, it is possible to make a loop trip of nine miles. As the Leary trail contains a number of ups and downs, this route is rated expert.

Old Forge, Inlet, Limekiln Area

Trails in the Haderondah Wilderness (N. to E.)
USGS 15'; Quad: McKeever
DEC"Foot Trails in the Old Forge - Big Moose Region

Click on map for an enlarged view.   
The Haderondah Wilderness northwest of Route 28 at Old Forge offers several possibilities for combining cross country skiing with winter camping.

The first access is opposite the DOT parking area on Route 28 at O'Kara Lakes. To reach the second access, turn north on Tower Road just before the railroad bridge at Thendara. Limited parking is available at the gate at the end of the town road.

The cross country routes utilize existing foot trails and a small portion of a little used snowmobile trail from Big Otter to Pine Lake. The degree of difficulty of each trail segment is noted on the map above.

McKeever Truck Trail (N)

USGS 15' Quad: McKeever

The McKeever Truck Trail provides an opportunity for interesting skiing. The Hamlet of McKeever is on Route 28, north of Otter Lake. Turn right before bridge over Moose River and park at end of plowed road. This trail starts at the gate on the truck trail and follows along the South Branch of the Moose River for 6.0 miles.

Third Lake to Limekiln Lake Crossover (I)
USGS 15' Quad: Old Forge

This route connects the northern end of Third Lake with the road system in the Limekiln Lake Public Campground, a distance of 7 miles. It uses old logging roads and other trails existing in the area. The route involves gentle grades.

In Old Forge, take South Shore Road for 6 miles. The trail starts one-half mile southwest of Petrie Road. Because the trail crosses some private land, please remain on the marked trail.

The eastern end of this trail may be reached by continuing on South Shore Road through the Town of Inlet and then to Limekiln Road shortly thereafter. The campground is at the end of this road.

Loop Trail Around Black Bear Mountain (I)
The start of this trail is found in the Village of Eagle Bay on Route 28. From the junction of Big Moose Road and Route 28, proceed 1 1/4 miles east to a marked trailhead. The trail passes around the eastern end of Black Bear Mt., and returns to Route 28, about one-half mile further east.

Cascade Lake (I)
In Eagle Bay take the Big Moose Road. The trailhead is 1 mile from the center of town. The distance to Cascade Lake is about 1 mile. The round trip to go completely around the lake is about 5 miles.

Moss Lake Trail (N)
From Eagle Bay, take the Big Moose Road approximately 2 1/2 miles to the trailhead. The trail follows an old bridle path around the lake and offers several excellent vistas. The trail is 2 miles in length.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Jul 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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