Adirondack Ski Touring Council
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING AND SNOWSHOEING
PO Box 843, Lake Placid, NY 12946
Adding up all the cross-country ski trails in and around Lake Placid, NY reveals that the region stands as a major xc skiing and snowshoeing destination. The Adirondack Ski Touring Council (ASTC) was developed in 1986 as a nonprofit corporation to promote cross country skiing, and to build/maintain the Jackrabbit Trail, which runs for 35 miles (56 km) from Keene, NY to Paul Smith's College. In recent years, ASTC has expanded its mission to assume winter maintenance of other popular ski trails including the Connery Pond and Hayes Brook Truck Trails plus Marcy and Wright Peak ski trails.
Jackrabbit Trail was named for Herman "Jackrabbit" Johannsen, a Norwegian native and Lake Placid skiing pioneer (1916-28). He was nicknamed Jackrabbit for his ability to hop around in the deep snow. Part of this extensive trail was a stagecoach road in the 1880s. It required negotiation and hard work to accomplish and it has something for everyone with terrain suitable for novice skiers to expert. The trail includes groomed sections and ungroomed wilderness areas and it was designed with stops along the way with sections winding through towns and existing commercial cross country ski area trail networks. For a map click Jackrabbit Trail Map.
The Olympic Sports Complex complex (518-523-2811, www.orda.org), is the site of the Nordic and biathlon races during the 1980 Olympics. For a full page of info click Olympic Sports Complex. It requires a trail fee and has 50 km of marked trails that average 15 ft. wide that are regularly groomed and patrolled; there is snowmaking (5 km); and emergency phones. The complex has 10 marked loops offering one expert, six intermediate and three novice tours with additional expert skiing on the Porter Mountain racing loops. The Fresh Tracks program offers specialized ski experiences such as biathlon, Tai Chi, women only, skiing with kids, etc.
The JackRabbit Trail - There is a trail fee required on some of the groomed sections between Lake Placid and Mount Van Hoevenberg (aka Olympic Sports Complex). Trail maps are also available at the shops. Popular access to the Jackrabbit Trail are at Alstead Hill Road in Keene, Whiteface Inn Lane in Lake Placid, and McKenzie Pond Road. The entire trail should take about 10 hours to ski but most skiers do it in 2 or 3 days while spending the evenings in local inns. Sections of the trail are often tracked within a day after a storm. There is no transportation available along the trail and most skiers often enjoy separate JRT sections. Here is a synopsis of the Jackrabbit Trail:
Saranac Lake to McKenzie Pond Road - 2 miles of ungroomed for beginner to intermediate ski abilities. Go from the North Country Community College gym. Then ski 3/4 mile along the railroad grade before turning left for another 3/4 mile to McKenzie Pond Road.
McKenzie Pond Road to Whiteface Club Resort - 5.5 miles of ungroomed trail intermediate to advanced. Start at the road and ski briefly along a power line, then to McKenzie Pond Truck Trail at one mile. After another flat mile the trail climbs 1.5 miles and then descends another 2 miles to the Whiteface Club Resort.
Whiteface Club Resort Nordic Center to Mirror Lake - 3.5 miles of mostly ungroomed intermediate trails. Skiers may transit the Whiteface Inn Nordic Center without paying a fee by following JRT markers. The JRT leaves the groomed trail at a half mile and reaches the Howard Johnson's Restaurant at 1.75 miles. Cross Saranac Avenue and go to the left of the convenience store and follow a paved road for .2 miles (may have to walk it) and then trail resumes on the right. West Valley Road is at 3 miles and then climb to the Crowne Plaza passing the hotel on the right walk or ski down to Lake Placid's Main Street and across to a tobgobban slide on the shore of the Mirror Lake.
Mirror Lake and Lake Placid Resort to the Cascade Cross Country Ski Center - 7 miles of intermediate groomed trails that require a trail fee. Pass Lake Placid Club cottages to the Lake Placid Resort Nordic Center. Cross the golf course to River Road at 3 miles. Parallel River Road for a quarter mile and turn left up a driveway for another quarter mile then up Craig Wood Golf Course and on to Route 73 at 5.5 miles. Cross Route 73 to the Cascade Cross Country Ski Center.
Cascade Cross Country Ski Center to Keene - 6 miles mostly ungroomed intermediate trails. Follow Main Street to Easy Street for three quarters of a mile then left on to Route 73 to top of the pass at 3.5 miles. Ski down to Adirondack Rock and River at the end of the trail.
The newest section of the JRT starts on Rte. 30 about one half mile north of junction with Rte. 86. It follows Paul Smith's College trails past Church Pond to crossings of White Pine Road, Jones Pond Road, and Rte. 86 before heading south to join a power line that is followed to a trailhead opposite the Lake Clear Elementary School on Rte. 30, about one half mile north of the junction with Rte. 186.
John Brown's Farm is an attraction in the area. He was a historic figure prior to the Civil War famous as an abolitionist, who attempted to organize armed insurrection among slaves in Harper's Ferry in VA that failed.
The Lake Placid Club Resort Nordic Center (518-523-2556, www.lakeplacidcp.com) has trails (about 15 km) and connects with the more secluded Jackrabbit Trail. The trails, which are on a golf course and in the forest are not open all the time. XC skiing and snowshoeing is a free amenity for lodging guests. Rentals for xc skiing and snowshoeing are available.
The Whiteface Club & Resort Nordic Center (518-523-2551, www.whitefaceclubresort.com) provides 15 km of gentle sloping, professionally groomed and track-set trails with skating lanes. The Whiteface Club offers a full range of Alpina ski equipment and Tubbs snowshoes for rent and the ski season runs Dec 15th through Mar 15th (weather permitting). Hours of Operation: Wed - Sun 9am — 5pm (or dark); Christmas and President’s Week: Open 7 days. The staff is ready to arrange lessons, answer questions, and give guidance on clothing, equipment and trail conditions.
Cascade Cross Country Center, Lake Placid (518-523-9605, www.cascadeski.com) This is an area that has 20 km of groomed trails with a ski shop, rental equipment, a large fireplace, and dorm style bunkrooms for overnight accommodations.
Top notch accommodations and services in Lake Placid at the Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa with spa, food and beverages, and guide packages.
Directions: Take the NYS Northway (Interstate 87) directly north; take Exit 30 off the Northway onto Rt. 73; drive approximately 25 miles north towards Lake Placid; from the north (Plattsburgh, Canada) take the Northway to Rt. 9N (this is not Route 9 north but instead Route 9N) to Keene, NY; go northwest on Rt. 73.
Photo credits: Jenni McEwen; Annie McKinley