Nordic Skiing New York
Symbols for Trail Rating: N-novice, l-intermediate, E-expert
With the exception of the Haines Falls area near the North Lake Public Campground, the Nordic skiing opportunities described are adventuresome routes for advanced intermediate and expert skiers. In the Catskills, most of the valley floors and lower slopes are in private ownership, while the lands of New York State are found on the upper slopes and summits of the mountains. Some of the routes are through-trips which connect one valley to the next over or between the mountains. Local steep spots on such routes are unavoidable. Users will find the heavier and wider mountain skis to be preferable to the very light and narrow skis used for flatland trail skiing.
Northern Catskill Mountains
Tannersville and Haines Falls Area Trails near the North Lake Public Campground (N)
USGS 7.5'; Quad: Kaaterskill
Click on map for an enlarged view.
A complex of 19th century carriage roads that surrounded famous resort hotels make excellent 20th century Nordic skiing trails partly suitable for novices. Other trails are part of the North Lake public campground road system. Some of these are now marked as horse trails for summer use, and for Nordic skiing in winter.
At places, these trails approach a line of cliffs which rim the area to the south and to the east affording spectacular views of the Hudson River valley. Caution: Approach the edge of the escarpment with caution in winter, particularly on south-facing exposures, because meltwater from the sun may freeze into ice at the edge. Avoid the blue-marked Escarpment trail which runs directly above the line of cliffs.
Take Route 23-A to Haines Falls, and turn north in the village at a road leading to the North Lake Public Campgrou nd. At 2.2 miles a Department sign will indicate a side road right which leads to the Kaaterskill Falls. The parking lot for the falls is reached in 1 mile. The ski trails and the horse trails leave from behind a barrier to the left. The summer Escarpment trail (yellow markers] leaves directly from the parking lot. This trail is not suitable for skis.
The best views are from Boulder Rock and from the site of the old Mountain House. These locations are 2.2 and 2.5 miles respectively from the parking lot.
Overlook Mountain(I-Tannersville to summit),(E-Meads to summit)
USGS 7.5'; Quad: Katterskill-Woodstock
An old road over Overlook Mountain connected Tannersville with Meads and Woodstock. The approach from the north via Tannersville is less steep and is suitable for intermediate skiers. The descent from the top to the south to Meads is better considered an example of ski mountaineering than of Nordic skiing. The route is of jeep road width, but is continuously steep. This part of the route is rated expert. The trail is 7.6 miles long.
Notch, blue markers; and to the Devil's Path to Indian Head Mountain, red markers. These side trails are not suitable for skiing. At the junction of the Indian Head trail, the Old Overlook Road trail continues on the left fork with blue markers.
In Tannersville, take County Route 16 towards Platte Clove for about 6 miles. A Department sign indicates a turn-off to the south (right), on Prediger Road. The trail starts at the end of Prediger Road on red markers.
Take either NY Routes 212 or 375 to Woodstock. Turn north in the village on County Route 33, but when this road bears left, keep straight on Meads Mountain Road which climbs steeply. The trail is found about 2 1/2 miles from town at the height of land.
Southern Catskill Mountains
The routes described are all close to Big Slide Mountain, the highest of the Catskill summits, and consequently are in the heaviest snowfall regions of the Catskills. While this makes for a long snow season, the heavy snowfall also may introduce driving and parking problems, as all the approaches are on narrow county or town roads. The recommended approach is from the south via the hamlet of Claryville which is found 5 miles north of State Route 55. While this area can be approached from the north via State Route 28 via Big Indian and Olivera, the road through the pass is extremely steep on its northern side.
From either Ellenville or Liberty take State Route 55 to Curry. Turn north on County Route 19 and proceed about 5 miles to the intersection of Claryville Road, right, and West Branch Road, left.
Slide Mountain (E)
USGS 7.5'; Shadaken-Peekamoose Mtn
While the trail up Big Slide Mountain is an old jeep road for most of its length, this ascent is an exercise in ski mountaineering and the equipment selected should be suitable for this kind of duty. The summit elevation is 4,180 feet and the distance is 2.9 miles.
From the intersection of the West Branch Road and the Claryville Road, take the left fork and follow the West Branch Road past Frost Valley to Winisook Lake, a total distance of about 13 miles. The trail departs to the right and is marked with a Department sign. Follow yellow markers. In 0.9 miles the trail forks. Take the left fork to Slide Mountain, red markers. The right fork, yellow markers, goes to Claryville.
Winisook Lake, Claryville Trail (I)
USGS 7.5'; Quad: Shandaken-Peekamoose Mtn.
This is a through route of about 4 miles which leaves the parking lot at 2470 feet, climbs through a pass southwest of Slide Mountain at 3100 feet, and descends to the end of the Denning Road to Claryville at 2100 feet. This trail branches from the Slide Mountain trail 0.9 miles from the start. Follow yellow markers.
To reach the southern end of this trail, start at the intersection of the Claryville Road and the West Branch Road. Turn right on the Claryville Road and follow it straight to the end, a distance of about 7 miles. The road name changes to the Denning Road after Claryville.
Belleayre Ski Center (N, I, E)
The Belleayre Ski Center has cross-country ski trails for novice, intermediate and expert skiers. The trails utilize old bridle paths, hiking and ski trails. Information can be obtained at the base lodge. The Belleayre Ski Center is located off Route 28 near Highmount.
Lower Hudson Valley
Stissing Mountain Multiple Dutchess County Use Area (N)
USGS 7.5'; Quad: Pine Plains
The Stissing Mountain Multiple Use Area is located approximately 9 miles east of Rhinebeck at the northern end of Dutchess County. The terrain contains a number of small hills and is suitable for novice use. Take the Taconic State Parkway to the intersection of State Route 199. Turn east for 0.5 miles, then take County Route 53 to the south. In 3 miles the Hicks Hill Road will leave to the northeast at a Y intersection. The parking area is found at approximately 0.5 miles along the Hicks Hill Road.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication