The air is super crisp, cold, and clean as I drop my skis down at the trailhead. A fluffy poof of snow jumps into the air where the skis land. I take a deep breath and look around. The boughs of the balsam trees hang heavy with big clumps of powder. A super-fine dusting of snow falls, very slowly filling in the tracks from an earlier skier. I close my eyes and listen — it's unbelievably peaceful. The winter landscape insulates me against the sounds of civilization, which are drowned out. I can actually hear the sounds of fine specks of snow as they tap the brittle leaves of the beech trees around me.
I sign in at the trail register and crouch down to clip my 3-pin bindings into my skis. Then, grabbing my poles, I adjust my backpack and start down the trail. The temperature is in the single digits but, very quickly, I feel quite warm and comfortable. My breath comes in quick puffs of white steam. The snow on the trail is perfect and my skis glide with a slight swish sound. My right boot always makes a quiet squeak and soon I get into a rhythm: swish, squeak, swish, squeak.
I love skiing in the woods of the Adirondacks. Many times, it is exactly the peace and tranquility I need to escape from whatever stresses are happening in my life.
Lucky for me — and for you — the heart of the Adirondacks is chock full of wonderful trails that can be hiked in the summer but then skied in the winter!
In my opinion, the best way to enjoy getting out on the trail is to combine it with a great meal — a warm hearty breakfast, a yummy satisfying lunch, or just a tasty snack packed into your backpack. Here is my list of ski trails and places to grab a meal.
The Indian Lake area has a number of great ski trails. There is a wide variety for a range of ski levels, and some great spots for pre-adventure coffee and breakfast or for grabbing a sandwich to take out on the trail!
Trails in Blue Mountain Lake:
- The Durant Loop, starting from the Durant Lake Campground, beginner: This is an easy out-and-back ski that's good even with only a little bit of snow. An average skier can probably ski it in 45 minutes or less. Park at the campground entrance on Route 28 and follow the snow-covered road in and through the campground.
- The trail to Tirrell Pond, intermediate to advanced depending on ski conditions: This is a longer ski, so be sure to have a packed lunch with you. It can be an out-and-back ski or, if Tirrell Pond is frozen, you can ski across and follow the Northville-Placid Trail out toward Durant Lake. There is a pullout where the trail comes out onto Route 28. You can park another car here and make it a point-to-point ski. For either out-and-back or point-to-point, start at the north end of the parking area for Blue Mountain. The trail will follow an old logging road and then veers to the right. It starts out with a bit of a climb and then there is a gentle descent to the pond.
Before setting out on either of these ski trips, here's where you can get some perfect workout fuel:
- The Pig II Deli in Indian Lake is great for a quick bite. Craig, at the Pig II, is always friendly and makes a great breakfast sandwich or a packed-with-meat sandwich! If you stop in, be sure to ask him what the take-out dinner special is for the day!
- The Adirondack One Stop in Indian Lake may look like a gas station out front but it is much, much more! Stop here for great breakfast sandwiches, great packed lunches, and to grab all your small grocery store needs.
There are several excellent trails to try out in the Long Lake area. I suggest trying one of these:
- The Three Brook Loop Trail, intermediate: To reach the trailhead, head toward Newcomb on Route 30 from the three-corners in Long Lake, near Hoss' and Stewart's. At 1.5 miles, Tarbell Hill Road will be on your left, the trailhead for Three Brook Loop will be on the right. There is a register with a general map of the trail. It follows the Northville-Placid trail south, looping off the trail to the west and then heading north at the base of Sabattis Mountain. It eventually links back to the N-P trail and heads north back to the parking lot. It should take an average of two hours. (*This trail is a bit remote so be sure to be prepared and make sure you tell someone about your plans.)
- The Big Brook Cross-Country Ski Trail, intermediate: A bit to the north of town, heading toward Tupper Lake, this trail is a little over 4 miles but has only a small elevation gain. Here's a great description of the trail and where to access it.
- Burn Road Trail of Sabattis Road in Whitney Wilderness area, intermediate: 6 miles north of Long Lake, this trail can be accessed through Circle Road and Sabattis Road.
And, of course, there are some excellent restaurants open all winter long in Long Lake:
- Adirondack Growl & Grub, open 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Stop here for deli sandwiches, salads, craft brews, stay in or take out, fresh baked rolls, and soups.
- ADK Trading Post, open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Known for excellent soups, warm paninis — stay in or take out — sandwiches hold their heat! You can also get your cross-country ski rentals here!
- Adirondack Hotel, open 11 a.m. - last call!
- Long Lake Diner, offering lunch until 2 p.m. The pub is open from 4 p.m. - closing.
And ski rentals are available at both ADK Trading Post and at Hoss' Country Corner!
If you are looking for some groomed trails, Inlet has some great options.
- Fern Park, where there are 22 kilometers of groomed trails! Two kilometers are even lit up until 10 p.m. for night skiing.
- Inlet Golf Club and Limekiln Lake Campground each have about 3.5 kilometers of groomed trails as well as a number of touring trails.
Before heading out (or after your big trip), make sure to get some great food in Inlet at one of these restaurants:
The Tamarack Cafe, serving breakfast and lunch Friday-Sunday and holiday Mondays.
- Drake's Inn, serving dinner Thursday-Sunday, open Saturday and Sunday for breakfast and lunch.
- The Woods Inn, serving dinner Thursday-Sunday, open Saturday and Sunday for lunch.
- Screamen Eagle, serving dinner Tuesday-Sunday, open Saturday and Sunday for lunch.
- The Ole Barn, serving lunch and dinner every day.
- Red Dog Tavern, serving dinner Wednesday-Sunday, open Saturday and Sunday for lunch.
- And EZ Mart is open every day serving fresh breakfast sandwiches, donuts, and lunch specials — take-out only.
Get out those ski boots, dress warmly and try out a trail or two this winter!