Choose Your Own Cross-Country Ski Adventure
by Elizabeth Folwell
With snow in the forecast for Friday in the Tri-Lakes and central Adirondacks, the cross-country skiing could be terrific. January’s two thaws, which led to bare ground around Lake George and the Champlain Valley, still left a decent base on many trails near Tupper Lake and Long Lake.
What do you prefer in a half-day outing? Do you steer clear of narrow backcountry routes that may have challenging topography, tricky stream crossings and unbroken tracks? One destination that offers five miles of groomed track, nice views, rolling terrain, is free and welcomes dogs happens to be right outside Tupper Lake, at the golf course.
The Tupper Lake Country Club ski options include gentle circuits around the snow-covered fairways, old logging roads and paths to Cranberry Pond. Beginners can handle the golf course, with about 75 feet of elevation gain, and the Little Logger section is good for intermediates. The more open sections are wonderful at twilight, especially now that days are getting longer. To get there, take the Big Tupper Ski Area road from Route 30 and park at the clubhouse.
Also near Tupper Lake is the Deer Pond loop, popular with mountain bikers in warmer weather and appreciated by intermediate skiers. Routes are usually tracked out after fresh snow but you may end up breaking trail too. You can cover more than seven miles or select a shorter trip; take your topo map or GPS because there are several routes through this section of the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. Dogs are welcome here, and do remember to bring water and food for them since they’ll be hungry and thirsty after a romp in the snow. Parking is off Route 3/30 or from the Fernow trailhead on Route 30.
For experienced backcountry skiers the 8.6-mile out-and-back trek to frozen Raquette Falls is a winter classic. Though snowshoers and skiers really enjoy this destination, there’s no guarantee you’ll find packed snow on the woods roads that become skinny hiking paths. A group of three or more can take turns breaking trail, and on the way back to your car you’ll fly on the tracks you’ve made. Access is from the end of Coreys Road, off Route 3 east of the intersection with Route 30.