An early-season ski in the Adirondacks

Backcountry ski on Bloomingdale Bog Trail
The Bloomingdale Bog Trail in the Adirondacks. Photo by Phil Brown

We got three to four inches of snow Sunday night, just enough to lure me out of the office for a backcountry ski on my lunch hour on Monday afternoon.

I went to the Bloomingdale Bog Trail, an old railroad bed that needs only a few inches to be skiable. The base was thin, but overall the skiing was quite good.

The trail starts off Route 86 outside Saranac Lake and extends about eight miles to Onchiota. On Monday, I skied about two miles up the trail, just far enough to get a good view of the bog, and then turned around. After all, this was a workday.

Despite the brevity of the trip, I was thrilled to be kicking and gliding through the light powder. It really felt like winter had arrived—especially when my fingers got numb from the cold.

Bloomingdale Bog
Bloomingdale Bog.

One of the perks of living in Saranac Lake (or most anywhere in the Adirondacks) is that it’s easy to get out for a short backcountry ski, either on your lunch hour or after work. The Bloomingdale Bog Trail is one of several Forest Preserve trails on my circuit. Others include the trails to Moose Pond and Oseetah Marsh and the start of the Jackrabbit Trail. I also spend many a lunch hour skiing up and down Dewey Mountain.

We’re not sure if the Bog Trail will be skiable later in the week. The temperature is supposed to climb into the forties on Tuesday, and there is chance of rain on Wednesday. If the forecast holds true, the best bet for next weekend may be the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway.

In any case, the Bog Trail will be back in shape soon enough. It’s a good place to ski early in the season or in low-snow years. Skiers should be aware that it is also used by snowmobiles.

Starting at the south end of the trail, you pass a large beaver pond and then enter a corridor of evergreens. Emerging from the evergreens, the trail goes through an open area, enters another evergreen corridor, and eventually comes to wide-open views of the bog, one of the largest in the Adirondack Park. If you keep going, you’ll come to a bridge over Twobridge Brook at 2.75 miles and County Route 55 at just under 4.0 miles. The trail continues another four miles on the other side of the highway.

Part of the trail in the first mile has been flooded by beavers. Hikers had broken through thin ice here. To avoid the resultant slush, I carried my skis about a hundred yards. Once this section freezes over, it should be fine. Until the base builds up, the trail will be scratchy in a few places.


About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

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