February 2019 - CELEBRATE WINTER
Enjoy the Snow and Ice!
By Darryl Caron
Our winters are short and spring is just over a month away so get outside and make your own adventures. Many locals and visitors ignore the naysayers and celebrate winter with upstate New York destinations, activities and events.
It’s a great time to get family and friends outside. Whether you cruise the wintery trails by ski, sled, snowshoe, fat bike or dog sled, upstate New York has it all. With affordable lift tickets, trail passes, rentals, and a great variety of events, planning your next winter day or weekend trip has never been easier. It’s no fun being cooped up inside all winter. Get out of your home, office or gym, and try some of these ideas for winter outdoors.
Skiing and Snowboarding
With dozens of ski centers and hundreds of combined ski trails, it is no wonder that New York boasts some of the best skiing and riding, welcoming families, friends or groups. Go enjoy a day at Whiteface, Gore, McCauley, Willard or other ski areas, and experience everything from gentle slopes to challenging steeps. Be sure to check out their websites for midweek and March savings, ski lessons, learning camps, ski and stay deals, trail conditions, and special events of all kinds!
Remember your local ski shop or outfitter for mid-season sales on alpine and cross-country ski gear, clothing and accessories, ski demos for test drive, and ski tune-up specials. We’re gifted with many great retailers, including High Adventure, Play It Again Sports, Alpine Sport Shop, Inside Edge, Mountainman Outdoors, High Peaks Cyclery, Berkshire Outdoors – and shops at the ski centers.
With many Nordic centers and hundreds of kilometers of groomed cross-country ski – and snowshoe – trails across our region. Plus, some areas offer many miles of backcountry ski tours, what better way to get out to enjoy winter and cross-train for your favorite summer sport!
Whether you are looking for a peaceful trail winding along frozen rivers, groomed and track set trails, or a day of challenging adventure, visit Mt. Van Hoevenberg, Lapland Lake, Garnet Hill, Osceola Tug Hill, Dewey Mountain, Pineridge, McCauley Mountain, Cascade or other ski centers. The town of Inlet offers free XC ski and snowshoe trails, ice skating rink with warming hut, and sledding hill for the whole family. Long Lake, Raquette Lake and Old Forge are also popular destinations for skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, skating and more.
The Lake Placid Nordic Festival, featuring the historic Lake Placid Loppet 50K and 25K citizen classic and freestyle races, is on Saturday, March 16. There will also be Citizen Challenge Races/Tours of 12.5K, 6.25K and 3K distances. It falls on St. Patrick’s Day weekend so plan on Irish themes and wearing green
Or, try backcountry, alpine touring or Telemark skiing with a downhill, XC ski center or guide service such as High Peaks Mountain Guides that offers rentals, lessons, instruction and shuttles – ideal for individuals or groups. The Adirondack Mountain Club also offers introductory courses and workshops in Lake Placid and Lake George.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe through the beautiful state parks, local preserves, or hike the Adirondack backcountry. If you have never been and would like to try, contact the cross-country ski centers, St. Regis Canoe Outfitters or High Peaks for snowshoe excursions that provide you with the equipment and instruction.
Garnet Hill, Lapland Lake, Pineridge and Dewey offer full moon skiing and hiking for a true nighttime winter adventure. Two local manufacturers, NeviTREK and Dion, offer handmade snowshoes for hiking, running and walking.
In addition to the popular Dion WMAC Snowshoe Series, the Adirondack Snowshoe Fest is on February 23-24. It’s hosted by Dewey Mountain Recreation Center in Saranac Lake on Saturday – where the 2017 World Championships were held – and Paul Smith’s College in Paul Smiths on Sunday. Saturday’s events include a guided snowshoe tour, 10K race and 5K Shoe-Be-Do race, plus kids’ snowshoe scavenger hunts, marshmallow roast and hot cocoa. Sunday includes a naturalist led snowshoe tours, 5K race and 15K race, plus snowshoe obstacle course, build your own snowshoe kits with PSC students – and more hunts, marshmallows and cocoa. All 18-under are free.
Have you always wanted to try ice climbing but don’t know how or didn’t have the right equipment? High Peaks mountain guides have clinics and trips for climbers of all levels of experience and ability. Introductory, one-day courses offer ice climbing equipment and safety as well as practical experience for climbing moderately angled snow and ice terrain. The best part is they provide all the technical gear needed for your first traverse, so what are you waiting for!
Whether you enjoy indoor or outdoor skating, upstate New York has plenty of options. Enjoy outdoor skating at the Saratoga Spa State Park, Empire State Plaza, Olympic Speedskating Oval, and many local lakes and parks. Some lakes now have plowed skating lanes, including Mirror Lake with its two-mile plowed loop.
If no or low snow, lakes or ponds with safe ice are ideal for skating in the wild – including Lake George and Lake Champlain. For indoor skating hours as well as rentals and lessons, contact almost any hockey rink near you. And, of course, there are many rinks at town and city parks in the region.
The fat biking momentum continues to grow as more people ride the ATV of bicycles year-round to escape spinning indoors on the trainer. It’s a slower pace but riders keep their fitness and get some fresh air outside in the winter. The low air pressure adds some dampening of bumps, adding stability and traction – the snow is compressed with a wide variety of grooming solutions! It’s also very social as group rides are at a slower pace in the snow so it adds fun for all.
Fat bike events are gaining in popularity. The Saratoga Fat Bike Rally is celebrating five years at the Saratoga Spa State Park on Saturday, February 9, featuring guided rides, low-key races, raffles, bikepacker’s challenge and beverages.
Many area shops carry some or a fleet of fat bikes including Bike Barn, Grey Ghost, High Peaks, Placid Planet, Rick’s and Tomhannock. In addition to sales, most offer demos and rentals, and a few offer lessons and tours. Mountainman Outdoors now offers fat bikes from Growler Performance Bikes.
Tubing or Sledding
For those who just can’t get enough time on the slopes or would rather go down the hill sitting down, try tubing at Willard Mountain or tobogganing at Lake Placid Toboggan Chute. Tubers can enjoy a day or night of leisurely outdoor recreation that’s fun for all ages.
With the President’s Week holiday, there are plenty of winter activities across upstate New York. For outings, races and festivals, see the Calendar of Events listings in this issue. The snow and ice will be gone before we know it, so get outside and enjoy it now!