By Phil Brown
Winter came late. We didn’t get our first decent snowstorm until the second week of December, maybe six inches over two days, enough to ski the new trail at Henry’s Woods outside Lake Placid.
The 2.5 mile trail winds, climbs and descends through a two-hundred-acre preserve on the outskirts of the village.Tony Goodwin, executive director of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, designed the trail for hiking and skiing. It’s five feet wide, and most of its surface is smooth and covered with crushed gravel, making it a good bet in early winter
“If you get six or seven inches of light powder, you can probably ski it,” he said.
Goodwin classifies the difficulty as “low intermediate or novice,” depending on conditions. “There is one S-turn that would be a bit of a challenge for a novice skier,” he said. “The rest is novice terrain.”
He recommends skiing the loop clockwise. In the other direction, skiers will face a steeper downhill with several sharp turns.
Located off Bear Cub Road, Henry’s Woods is owned by the Uihlein Foundation. The preserve is named after the philanthropist Henry Uihlein.
The trail did not officially open until this past fall, but locals have been skiing it for the past two winters.
“I like it a lot,” said Adirondack photographer Nancie Battaglia. “It has nice rolling hills and different types of trees, both hardwoods and pines.”
Battaglia, who is an intermediate skier, says she has no trouble on the S-turn if conditions are good. The ascent may discourage some skiers, but Battaglia doesn’t mind it. “Generally, whenever you climb, there’s a good ride,” she said.
She sees a fair number of snowshoers, dog walkers, and others on the trail.
From the large parking lot, the trail goes 0.3 miles to a junction—the start of the loop proper. If you turn left here, the trail climbs steadily for about 0.4 miles. It continues on the level for about 0.5 miles before beginning a series of descents and returning to the junction.
Goodwin said there are plans to build three other trails in Henry’s Woods, though only one will be suitable for skiing. When completed, the trail system will exceed four miles.
Directions:From NY 73, turn onto Old Military Road near the ski jumps south of Lake Placid village. Drive 0.8 miles to Bear Cub Road and turn left. The entrance to Henry’s Woods will appear on the right in 0.1 miles. If coming from Saranac Lake, turn right onto Old Military Road from NY 86. Bear Cub Road will be reached on the right after 3 miles.