Submitted by guest blogger Eileen Mowrey
Let’s be honest, it’s easy to complain about winter. It’s cold, the roads can get a little snowy, and many of your favorite activities get put on hiatus. But why wait for the snow to melt to have fun? Embrace winter this year by discovering a new outdoor hobby – snowshoeing!
Snowshoeing is a great way to make winter work in your favor. After all, it’s an activity where more snow is considered better! Luckily for you, the Adirondacks get plenty of snow and the region has tons of great places for both first-time and experienced snowshoers to hit the trails. While rugged, mountainous trails might intrigue seasoned snow warriors, beginners might find more comfort at winter recreation centers like Dewey Mountain Recreation Center and the Paul Smith’s VIC.
Dewey Mountain Recreation Center
Best known for its groomed cross-country ski trails, Dewey Mountain also has 2.5 miles of curated snowshoe trail for you to explore. Open daily, every day is perfect for a jaunt to Dewey’s summit. And at just $5 for a day pass, it’s a great way for beginners to get their start in a welcoming environment.
The loop trail begins at the base lodge and winds its way up the eastern side of the mountain through thick forest, intersecting ski trails and out-of-season mountain bike routes as it goes. With fresh snow on the ground, following the switchbacks can get confusing. But, if you keep an eye out for the yellow trail markers, you will never find yourself too far off course.
Deep in the woods the silence of snowfall weighs heavy on the ears. As rays of sun peak through the trees, and a slight breeze blows snowflakes from high branches, the sky glistens. It’s like living in your own personal snow globe.
As you continue to climb, the ski trails you pass will transition from easier greens to moderate blues and then, eventually, challenging blacks. That’s a sign you’re almost at the top. When you crest the final ridge enjoy the feeling of victory and take a moment to look around. Though the summit is forested, glimpses of Saranac Lake, the Saranac Chain of Lakes, and surrounding mountains can be seen between the trees.
When you’re ready to go, you have two choices: return via the eastern trail or descend down the western side. This route can be steep at times, making the return trip seem much faster than your climb. Before you know it you’ll be back at the warm lodge sipping cocoa and recounting your adventures.
Whether you’re new to snowshoeing or just looking for a fun place to spend the day, Dewey’s snowshoe trail is a great place to play in the snow. Unlike their ski trails, the snowshoe route is dog-friendly, so your four-legged friends can join in the action. Don’t have snowshoes yet? Dewey offers rentals for $12 for a half day and $18 for a full day. They even allow you to take the full-day rentals off premises to continue the experience on your own!
Paul Smith’s VIC
The Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center is a mecca for outdoor sport, especially snowshoeing. More than nine miles of groomed trail, almost 25 miles of maintained mixed-sport trail, and six miles of snowshoe-only trail gives you more acreage to explore than you can cover in a day! Trails range in difficulty and length, intersecting at many points to create an intricate web for your enjoyment. This venue's ease of access and variety make it a great choice for snowshoe hikers of all ages and abilities.
During the winter season the VIC is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk. Day passes can be purchased in the main lodge and cost $10 for adults, $5 for children 6 – 17, and are free for kids five and under. Snowshoe rentals are also available. When you stop in the main lodge to purchase your day pass, be sure to check out the displays! Touching on everything from Adirondack history to the animals, trees, and plants you might see along your way, the small expo provides fascinating background for the amazing experience you’re about to have. Before you go, ask the friendly VIC staff to review a map with you and recommend the best trails for your skill set and desires.
Looping around waterbodies, snaking through the forest, and traversing wetlands on boardwalks, there’s a wide variety of stunning sights awaiting you at the VIC. Thanks to a series of brightly colored trail signs, navigating the vast network of trails is easy. Get your blood pumping and your limbs limber on the Barnum Brook trail, a short, easy loop trail that will take you through the forest and along the edge of Heron Marsh before crossing a small river on a series of bridges and returning to the start. Several scenic overlooks along the way provide great photo opportunities, especially when the sun is setting. If you’re itching for a full day adventure, continue onto the Jenkins Mountain Trail and tackle a snowy summit!
Once you’ve finished Barnum Brook, set your sights on something new. The Heron Marsh trail circles the water and traverses the longest section of boardwalk onsite. Several smaller boardwalks jut out over the water and feature wooden benches where you can rest while you take in the view. One of the coolest features of this trail is Shingle Mill Falls. Despite being iced over at most points during the winter, it’s still a remarkable sight! The route also takes you past a couple of authentic Adirondack lean-tos – the perfect place to enjoy a winter picnic or a quick snack.
Snowshoeing is a wonderful way to experience winter in the Adirondacks, but don’t let the cold get the best of you. By dressing in warm layers and wearing warm, waterproof boots, insulated socks, hats, and mittens or gloves, you can beat winter’s frosty nip for hours on the trail. Pro tip: pack a bag with extra layers, a hot beverage, and your favorite trail snacks for added comfort!
Discover a new love for winter when you snowshoe at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center and the Paul Smith’s VIC. It’s more than a day’s activity – it’s the start of a new winter passion!
Why not make Saranac Lake your winter vacation destination? Start exploring spots to stay, satisfy your cravings, and do a bit of shopping.