Did you know there is a railroad track that goes all the way from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake? I knew about it, but I never paid it much attention until I started to think about its potential as a cross-country ski. Winter hit early in the Adirondacks this year and I was ready to set this idea into action. I headed out that morning with one goal in mind — to ski from Lake Placid all the way to Origin Coffee in Saranac Lake. The plan for the day was skiing, with the reward of a great cappuccino at the end.
The beauty of living in the Adirondacks is the endless skiing opportunities right out your front door. You don’t even need to drive to get to them. I grabbed my skis and walked over to the railroad tracks to set out on my adventure. For a trip like this it's good to bring plenty of water and a snack — my personal favorite thing to use is a Camelbak style backpack, which has a tube for hands-free drinking. There are plenty of places to buy gear before you go, like Lake Placid’s local running store The Fallen Arch, and Green Goddess Market and Café on Main Street is a great go-to for food.
The railroad tracks start near Lisa G’s, a restaurant on Station Street, and it looked as though I was the first person to ski the tracks this year. I set into some untouched, pretty deep snow and started on my journey. Making tracks in deep snow is slower moving, so right away I knew it was going to be a bit longer of a day than I had anticipated, taking a total moving time of around three hours one way.
I skied along the tracks following the river. The views here reminded me of a winter postcard scene. After I crossed Old Military Road, I was pleasantly surprised to see snowmobile tracks, which provided me with a packed-down trail. This lasted only about a quarter of a mile until it was back to me making trail again. The tracks stretch straight through the heart of the Adirondack woods. It was beautiful to be out on a solo expedition surrounded by snow-covered trees, with the only sign of life around being the prints in the snow from deer, bunnies, and all sorts of other wildlife. t was an extraordinary maze of animal tracks coming in and out of the woods all the way to Saranac Lake.
I skied the whole way on the railroad tracks, and I only had to take my skis off a few times to cross roads and one un-frozen bog until I reached the street I needed to take to get to downtown Saranac Lake. There, I decided the snow on the side of the road was plenty enough to ski on so I skied alongside the road, up over the hill and down to the village's main municipal parking lot.
My plan was a success! I made it from Lake Placid to Origin Coffee in Saranac Lake on my cross-country skis. Inside Origin Coffee I was instantly presented with a feeling of warmth, from the atmosphere to the smell of coffee. Everyone was enjoying themselves in good conversation — this is the epitome of what a coffee shop should be. It is worth any drive or ski to grab a cup of coffee there.
I was hungry and very much craving my cappuccino. I ordered a green mango smoothie and an almond milk cappuccino, left my skis at the front door, and relaxed while enjoying my adventure over good coffee. It’s always a joy to sit and feel the glowing energy of other patrons — overhearing conversations of ski adventures and other outdoor activities; listening in on the lives of others living and enjoying the Adirondacks. It makes you more acutely aware of just how special this part of the world is.
If you are ever in need of a new adventure, try skiing to Saranac Lake via the railroad tracks and end it at Origin Coffee!