A few years ago I made it my New Year’s resolution to cross-country ski every day. Did I hold that resolution through to December 31st? Nope! But did I ski as much as I could that year? You bet I did. The beauty of cross-country skiing in the Lake Placid area is that there are enough trails to keep you skiing throughout the winter, and enough variations in terrain that you’ll never be bored. With a good number of trail miles under my skis, I like to think I have a favorite spot, but what drives me to keep going is knowing that there is always more to explore. From groomed cross-country ski centers to untouched backcountry thrills, the Nordic skiing here is incredible.
Get your kicks at MVH
Mount Van Hoevenberg is the gold-standard of groomed Nordic skiing. In fact, the trails here are used for world-class events, which included the 1980 Olympic biathlon, cross-country skiing, and cross-country skiing portion of Nordic combined. Even though the ski center at Mount Van Hoevenberg has been used in elite competition, that doesn’t mean you should shy away from exploring them yourself! With over 50km of ski trails, there is something for everyone - from the easy Flatlander to the up-and-down roller coaster Brookside.
Need a snack? The brand new Mountain Pass Lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg has everything you need for a bite to eat, and you can get the latest Nordic gear at the only SWIX Concept retail store in North America.
To the future!
Cascade Cross-Country Ski Center has been a family-owned gem in the region for years. From Full Moon Ski Parties to mellow family afternoons, the wonderful trails here provide fun for all abilities. And snowshoeing, too! Rentals are available and friendly, knowledgeable staff can help you get the new gear you might need from the retail store. (Full disclosure: I bought my first pair of cross-country skis at Cascade years ago and I spent that entire winter exploring the trails, and have not looked back since.)
In early 2022, it was announced that the Adirondack Mountain Club was purchasing Cascade Ski Center, but the ski center will run as-is until April 1, 2022.
Groomed ski centers are great. You can learn, refine skills, and still explore. But when you’re ready to take your skis into the backcountry, there are some good options around Lake Placid that shouldn’t be missed!
For example, the Jackrabbit Trail, which runs from Keene to Paul Smiths, is the perfect place to lay down a fresh set of tracks. With tight turns and varied terrain, those with more experience will delight in finding classic Adirondack ski tours like Avalanche Pass and Marcy Dam. Even trails closer to town are fun to venture down. The Peninsula Trails, Henry’s Woods, Heaven Hill, and the golf courses all offer prime places to ski just a few minutes from downtown! One of my friends said it best: “I like that there are so many places to cross-country ski within a very close proximity to town and that the trails are pretty easy with fun rolling hills.”
But what’s your favorite?
I know I mentioned my favorite spot earlier, but I didn’t say what it was. So, here it goes: my ultimate favorite cross-country skiing trail in Lake Placid is the section of the Jackrabbit that goes from Old Mountain Road to Keene. It’s a climb, it’s a long downhill, it’s wild: it’s amazing, and the #1 reason why I like skiing in Lake Placid.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here is what some other locals had to say about skiing in Lake Placid:
- “Heaven Hill is always heaven, as long as people are taking care to not posthole.
- “Lake Placid Golf Course is always fun, especially for the dog! There’s something about big open spaces that the dogs just feel like they need to run, run, run! It’s great for tiring them out!”
- Favorite spot - “Heaven Hill: epic views, good mix of terrain, typically very good snow. There's lots of easy stuff, but there are also some steep drops that are optional.”
- Favorite spot - “Henry's Woods: I like it because it scares me. It’s usually pretty packed out and very fast, but what's life without some spice?"
- “I love cross-country skiing to the Whiteface Brook lean-to from the Little Cherry Patch Pond parking lot when I want a longer tour.”
- “I like to make a date with friends of ours that live in Lake Placid to do a night ski through John Brown's Farm. We gear up with our headlamps and do the lower trails, then head out into the far field, and back down on that end of the property. The lower field is great if you want a quick loop, but I prefer the upper field and wooded trail! Skiing at night in those fields gives you a great view of the stars!”
- “A nice ski is heading out to Whiteface Landing via the Connery Pond trail. If conditions allow, we cut across the pond to avoid the steep, narrow wooded trail. Once you hit Whiteface Landing, you may want to ski on Lake Placid Lake over to the Moose Island lean-to. Again, that’s only if ice conditions allow.”
- “The McKenzie lean-to is a great ski: uphill on the way in and downhill ALL the way back.”
With so much good skiing in and around Lake Placid, it’s impossible to experience it all in one trip! Go ahead, take a full week to ski your way around town. There are plenty of cozy hotels, good restaurants, and shops to keep you warm, fed, and in shape for the trails.