Nordic Skiing - Five Great Places
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An Evening Sleigh Ride in the Adirondacks
A Winter Hike into the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area

Saranac Lake is a wonderful destination for Nordic skiing. The rolling expanse of our lake country makes for scenic trails which run the whole range of challenges. From groomed cross-country paths with parking lots to beautiful backcountry locations, we have a trail for every taste.

Dewey Mountain

Saranac Lake has a hometown cross-country skiing complex at the edge of town. Half of the mountain, all the way to the top, is threaded with thirteen kilometers of groomed trails. It's a photogenic forest with almost as many birches as evergreens, which makes for a lot of sunlight falling on the trails.

Enjoy skate or classical Nordic skiing on the lower trails, which are also lighted as twilight approaches. On the upper mountain, the trails are left ungroomed for a backcountry experience. Vertical drop from summit is 440 feet, but there are plenty of beginner loops.

A four kilometer snowshoe trail wends its way in a big loop to the top of the mountain for views of the Saranac Chain of Lakes. It heads back on a separate trail, occasionally crossing the other trails. It's permissible to walk along the edges of the cross-country trails, but don't disturb the groomed surface. 

Dewey Mountain has a network of groomed trails

The winter calendar has ski races, paint ball biathlons, ski jams with live music, and full moon ski nights with bonfires. At the beginning of the year a brand new lodge was built; a gorgeous room for hot beverages and general warming up with all the new friends enjoying the same sport.

Rentals and trail fees are very reasonable. Equipment rentals. Find out more about Dewey Mountain Recreational Center.

Mount Pisgah Veteran's Memorial Ski Center

Our other ski hill, Mount Pisgah, offers downhill, tubing, and backcountry trails. This lets the whole family, old or young, bold or relaxed, be able to find something to enjoy. There's over one hundred acres of winter fun on this mountain where generations of village children have learned to ski.

For cross-country fans, there are thirty acres of glade skiing in the evergreen forests on one side of the mountain, which has sweeping views of the valley rolling down to the Saranac River. Only the downhill trails are lit at night, so headlamps are recommended. Even though it is just outside of town and there is ample parking, the feel is that of the wild woods.

Mount Pisgah has cross country and downhill trails

The welcoming lodge has a two-sided fireplace, a snack bar, and giant windows to watch everyone exploring the snow. Prices are low enough for the whole family to choose their favorite activity. Equipment rentals. Discover Mount Pisgah Ski Center.

Jackrabbit Trail

The world-famous Jackrabbit Cross Country Skiing Trail has its final leg at a trailhead just minutes from downtown. There are fifty kilometers of trail in total, which connects with ski centers and other backcountry trails.

The romantic origins of this Old Country Nordic trail stretches back into the Roaring Twenties, to a Norwegian living in Lake Placid, Hermann "Jackrabbit" Johanssen. In Norway, Nordic skiers traveled from town to town on skis, and this rugged gentleman (he lived to 111) was a cross-country skiing pioneer and visionary at a time when there were few skiers of any kind. He blazed the first backcountry trails which would grow into the system named in his honor.

The Jackrabbit Trail can be joined at this Saranac Lake trailhead

The Jackrabbit Trail begins at Paul Smiths and takes skiers through Lake Placid and into the High Peaks. This incredible group project is not yet completed. One day it will link Keene, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake.

Access to the ungroomed sections is free, and there are trail passes which allow the use of some of the four cross-country ski centers which connect along the trail. This extraordinary trail network was built, and is still maintained, by the volunteers of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council.

Paul Smiths VIC

Paul Smiths is a college, a hamlet, an iconic Adironack guide and hospitality pioneer, and the site of the Visitor Interpretive Center's gorgeous and extensive trail system. It truly shines in winter, part of a weather system and geologic area known for some of the most reliable snow cover and abundant bluebird days in the whole area.

Much of the system is located in the St. Regis Canoe wilderness, a wild, roadless, uninhabited group of lakes and islands. In winter, it's the setting for exquisite hiking and climbing and stunning skiing vistas. It encompasses a bog (boardwalks allow safe travel), several ponds, and the challenge of Mount Jenkins.

There are over twenty-five miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing, skate skiing, and snowshoeing. For all their remoteness, these are some of the prettiest and most polished trails any skier could dream of. Built from the youthful enthusiasm of the forestry students under the guidance of nature-loving instructors, streams are spanned with wooden bridges, viewing platforms rear up from the trails, and perhaps the world's largest collection of Leopold benches offer places to take a rest and some pictures.

The Paul Smiths VIC has an amazing variety of ski and skate trails

There's a birding center, an art gallery, a natural history museum, and on Sunday afternoons, live music in the great room. One inexpensive trail pass offers access to the entire system. Cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals. Explore the Paul Smiths College VIC.

Fish Pond Ski Trail

For more wilderness experience on fresh snow, we have a number of backcountry trails to choose from. The Fish Pond Ski Trail is a main artery of the trail system in the St. Regis Canoe Wilderness. Trails connect the many water bodies that are so much fun to paddle on in summer, and makes for a unique wilderness that is equally lovely in the winter.

This ungroomed trail is a portal to the unexpected and the whispery silence of the deep winter woods. There's a narrow trail passing Little Clear Pond and Little Green Pond on the way to the Fish Pond Trail. Expect to spot chickadees, woodpeckers, marten, red fox, fishers, coyote, white-tailed deer, snowshoe hare, and squirrels.

the backcountry of the St Regis Canoe Wilderness

From this central trail, many summer hiking and carry trails now let a skier explore gentle slopes, small ponds, and the frozen lakes of the St. Regis wilderness. It's a popular route since it's highly reliable. As many skiers say, "There always seems to be snow on Fish Pond Trail!" 

Parking on the trailhead in Lake Clear. Visit the Fish Pond Ski Trail.

Find a cozy place to stay. After working up an appetite, have a hearty dinner. Explore all of our cross-country skiing trails.

Author:Pamela Merritt
An Evening Sleigh Ride in the Adirondacks
A Winter Hike into the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area

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Monday, January 25th, 2021
The nature trails at the Paul Smith's VIC are open dawn to dusk for snowshoeing, hiking, and xc skiing. Please remain socially distant.  Cross-country Ski and Snowshoe Center Take...
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Mt. Van Hoevenberg is now open for the 2020/2021 season. We are happy to announce that the Lake Placid Nordic Center at Mt. Van Hoevenberg opened on Friday, November 27th, 2020. We are eager to...

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