Notes from the ski trail

Oseetah Marsh on Monday, looking toward McKenzie Mountain. Photo by Phil Brown.
Oseetah Marsh on Monday, looking toward McKenzie Mountain. Photo by Phil Brown.

I went backcountry skiing around Paul Smiths both days this past weekend and found the conditions outstanding, but who knows how long the snow will last.

On Saturday afternoon, I skied to the summit of Jenkins Mountain, starting at Black Pond on Keese’s Mill Road. I skied across the pond, climbed over an esker, and picked up the Jenkins hiking trail. I broke trail most of the way. The sky was overcast, so the summit view was not great, but I had a blast coasting back down the mountain in my own tracks. The snow at the top was relatively powdery.

The next afternoon I skied to Grass Pond from the Hays Brook trailhead in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest. The trail was well tracked, which made for fast traveling. You reach the pond via an old woods road. After visiting Grass, I continued up the old road for another mile or so, breaking trail. I had not done this before, so I was curious where it went. It led to an open forest, at which point I ventured off trail in hopes of finding the Osgood River, but I gave up when the ski turned into a bushwhack.

Judging from my weekend trips, I’d say skiing at the Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths will be a good bet in the days ahead.

On my lunch hours Friday and Monday, I skied to Oseetah Marsh from Route 86 in Saranac Lake. Snow has got thinner along the trail and in the marsh in the past few days. The marsh is looking browner. Snow also is vanishing on the railroad tracks in the vicinity. Rails are exposed and, in some places, so are the ties.

Even after the snow melts in the valleys, there will be skiing in the High Peaks. I may get up there this week. If so, I’ll post another report. When I skied Marcy a few weeks ago, though, I noticed there was less snow up there than usual for the time of year.

Snowy woods a mile past Grass Pond. Photo by Phil Brown.
Snowy woods a mile past Grass Pond. Photo by Phil Brown.


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.

Reader Interactions


  1. Harold Sperazza says

    Yes Phil, it was a great weekend for XC skiing in the ADKs. A friend and I followed your advice from some previous Adirondack Explorer articles and skied the jackrabbit trail across The McKenzie Ridge down to the pond. What an enjoyable trip! The snow was perfect and for me that was one of the most enjoyable XC downhill slopes I’ve ever skied on. The following day we did the Deer Pond loop which was simply gorgeous. Along the way we came across a recently killed deer that, from the looks of the tracks in the snow, was taken down by several coyotes. All that was left to the carcass was 2 hind legs and a mound of hair. Nature in all of its primal fury! I must say, I greatly appreciate that Adirondack Explorer rag!

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