Cross-country skiers who live in or near Saranac Lake don’t have to travel far in pursuit of their pastime: Dewey Mountain, a small peak on the outskirts of the village, has ten kilometers of trails.
Dewey’s lower trails are groomed by a snowmobile pulling a roller, but the trails on the upper part of the mountain are left natural, providing a taste of the backcountry experience. Dewey also has separate snowshoe trails.
Locals ski at Dewey whenever they have a little time to kill—before work, after work, even after dinner (some trails are open at night). I like to ski Dewey during my lunch hour. It takes me thirty minutes or so to get up to the summit, which offers a view through the trees of the surrounding lakes and peaks. The ride back down takes only ten minutes or so.
Dewey also draws tourists looking for a less-expensive alternative to the state-run trails at Mount Van Hoevenberg. A day pass at Dewey costs just $5. Last winter, a day pass at Van Ho cost $18.
“We get a lot of people from outside the area,” said Steve Doxzon, owner of Adirondack Lakes and Trails, which runs Dewey for the town Harrietstown. Last season, Dewey saw more than two thousand skier-days.
Doxzon said Dewey needs eight to ten inches of snow for the lower trails to open and a foot to eighteen inches for the ungroomed trails.
There’s no snow here yet, but Adirondack Lakes and Trails has been busy getting Dewey ready for winter, improving drainage, removing large rocks, and, last weekend, replacing a rotten bridge. Steve Langdon, an experienced trail builder, oversaw the bridge construction. Several other volunteers showed up to do the grunt work. The community spirit is part of what Dewey is all about.