Skiing the Jackrabbit in Saranac Lake

The Jackrabbit Trail passes through a pine forest on the outskirst of Saranac Lake. Photo by Phil Brown.

I got out of the office this afternoon to take a short ski on the Jackrabbit Trail in the Saranac Lake, curious to see how Monday’s mini-thaw changed conditions.

The official start of the trail is at North Country Community College. From there you ski up the railroad tracks to a beautiful pine forest. However, I approached the forest from the opposite direction, starting where the tracks cross Route 86 on the outskirts of the village.

The amount of snow on the tracks was ideal for skiing. Before last week’s snowfall, I had occasionally scraped a piece of gravel while skiing on the tracks. Not today. After yesterday’s warm temperature and drizzle, that was a good sign.

After a half-mile or so, I turned into the forest. With any evergreen forest, a certain amount of the snow that falls from the sky gets hung up on the leafy branches and never makes it to the ground. So in low-snow times–as after a thaw–the cover can be thin. However, I skied all the way to McKenzie Pond Road, the start of the next section of the Jackrabbit, and didn’t see any bare spots. The few inches of snow we had after yesterday’s rain certainly helped.

Conditions were not perfect. The trail was bumpy, and fluffy powder left by last week’s storm is now dense and compact. You can make a pretty good snowball with it. This makes it harder to control your skis outside the narrow track formed by earlier skiers. With more snow and/or use, conditions should improve.

Note: the photo above was taken on earlier trip, but that’s pretty much how the forest looked today, with snow clinging to the trees.


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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