It’s late January, but we’re still waiting for midwinter ski conditions. That said, you can find good skiing if you pick the right spots.
At lower elevations, you want to stick to smoother trails—such as truck trails and old woods roads—as there might not be enough snow to cover big rocks and roots.
At higher elevations, this is less of a problem. Tony Goodwin reports on the Jackrabbit Trail website that there is 26 inches of snow at Lake Colden and three to four feet above the 4,000-foot contour.
The Jackrabbit itself, which stretches 24 miles from Saranac Lake to Keene, is in decent shape. I skied the section from Saranac Lake to Lake Placid last Friday and had no problems. We had a little rain Saturday, but it was followed by a few inches of snow. I returned to the Jackrabbit on Sunday to ski the hill above Whiteface Inn Lane and found it in good shape. Nevertheless, there may be a few rocks that are not fully covered, so you should be cautious on the downhills.
Tony reports that the Avalanche Pass Trail also is in decent shape: “Boulders below Avalanche Camp now mostly covered, and only a few thinner spots on the ski trail to the top of the pass and down to Lake Colden. Overall good skiing.”
He also says the Marcy Trail needs more snow but is skiable above the steep hill encountered after the second crossing over Phelps Brook (sometimes called “50-meter bridge”).
Following are a few observations from my own ski trips.
Last week I tried out a new trail in Newcomb called the Upper Hudson Ski Loop. Except for a few rocks, it was very skiable. Much of the route follows old logging roads or former ATV trails. (Since the state now owns the land, logging and ATVs are now verboten.) I doubt that conditions on the trail have changed appreciably as Tony reports that the old road to Camp Santanoni in Newcomb has a foot of cover.
Two weekends ago, I skied the Janack’s Landing Trail in the Five Ponds Wilderness, starting out in Wanakena, and found that it had plenty of snow. Rick Kovacs, owner of the Wanakena General Store, said conditions haven’t changed much. His wife skied to Janack’s Landing the other day. Rick says the trail to High Rock and indeed the entire High Falls Loop should be skiable. “You might have a few bony spots here and there,” he told me.
This is also a good time for pond skiing. In recent weeks, I skied ponds in the St. Regis Canoe Area and the Fish Creek Ponds region. For the most part, conditions were excellent on the ponds: a few inches of snow over rock-solid ice. As always, you must be aware that ice might be thin where there is current, such as near outlets, inlets, and narrows. The ice should be at least four inches thick.
You check out my Adirondack Backcountry Skiing page on Facebook for photos of some of my trips and read comments from other skiers. One skier took a multi-day trip in the western High Peaks last weekend and found conditions generally good. He also said the trail to Raquette Falls was in good shape.
If you take a ski trip, feel free to post a comment of your own.