There are nearly endless backcountry skiing opportunities in the High Peaks Wilderness Area which are less than 30 minutes from Cadence Lodge. Popular access points for these trails can be found at the Adirondack Loj just outside of Lake Placid or “The Garden” in Keene Valley. There are several excellent guidebooks that more than adequately describe these trails and I won’t repeat those efforts here. Adirondack Cross Country Skiing by Dennis Conroy or Classic Adirondack Ski Tours by Tony Goodwin are but two of the many options available.
And, of course, the Jack Rabbit Trail running from Keene to Saranac Lake is an absolute classic and can be skied in its entirety in one long day or, as is more common, in segments. (There is also a 9 mile section between Lake Clear Junction and Paul Smiths VIC which has not yet been connected to the rest of the trail). You can find details here: http://www.jackrabbittrail.org/map–description.html
Of course you always have the option of heading to either Cascade Cross Country Ski Area or Mount Van Hoevenberg (both on State Route 73 just east of Lake Placid) for some top quality kick and glide on maintained trails. You can get a nice lunch and a drink or two in the Cascade’s cozy restaurant and tavern and their ski shop and knowledgeable staff are top notch.
If, however, you desire a little more adventure or just some peace and quiet, there are several trailheads close to the Lodge that you may want to check out. The skiing ranges from gentle kick and glide touring to rowdy descents down exposed slide paths. If you’re interested in the latter, we strongly recommend that at least one member of your party have the ability to assess avalanche danger and that everyone carries an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel and is familiar with their use. We’ve tried to provide general descriptions of some of our favorite tours here but recall: Conditions can change rapidly and there is no substitute for first hand, real time observations. Now that all those tedious qualifications and clarifications, warnings and disclaimers are out of the way, here’s some stuff that’s near at hand.
Cooper Kiln Trail and Slide
This can be done either as an out-and-back or as a ski through – the latter option will require a drop car, a punctual friend or an unrealistic faith in the kindness of strangers. This is basically an ascent up and over the Wilmington range – a six or seven mile, saw-toothed ridge that runs along the length of Bonnieview Road and just to its west – in a generally north-south orientation – from near its intersection with the Stephenson Range which runs generally east-west. There is a pond up high, the aptly named “Cooper Kiln Pond” (although it shows up on USGS maps and on some trailhead signs as “Cooper Kill Pond” for some reason ). From the trailhead on Bonnieview Road (see directions from the Lodge below), it’s about four miles up the DEC “red” trail to the pond and six miles straight through with a bit of climbing. The “upper” trail head is on Forestdale Road about a half mile beyond its juncture with the Whiteface Memorial Highway.
There is, as promised, a slide – born sometime during, or in the immediate aftermath of, Hurricane Irene in late August of 2011. Because of its recent vintage, the cataclysmic power of this event is still very evident; uprooted trees and dislodged boulders litter the run out at the bottom of the slide where it enters a broad drainage that flows basically east toward Bonnieview Road. The very top of the slide is quite steep, faces almost due north and often is not skiable. The lower angle portion that holds snow better and is often “in” midwinter, has a slightly more north-east aspect and begins at the base of a prominent rock cliff perhaps 15 feet high which you can clearly see from the bottom of the slide. If you really have any business being on this slide with skis or a board strapped to your feet you’ll find it easily and without any need for direction. If your goal is just to check out the slide, park at the Bonnieview Road trailhead; the slide is a short distance off the DEC “red” trail described above – before you get to Cooper Kiln Pond. There are no signs but if you’ve seen this slide from afar and have studied a topo map you’ll sniff it out.
But if your goal is to ski the entire trail, start at the “upper” trailhead on Forestdale Road, about four miles from the Lodge, and enjoy a near 2000′ vertical drop to Bonnieview Road after about a 1000′ of climbing. Take a left when leaving the Lodge and go about an eighth of a mile to a four-way stop known as the Four Corners. Traveling straight through at the Four Corners and heading up the Whiteface Memorial Highway you’ll bear right onto Forestdale (or Franklin Falls) Road about three miles along and you’ll find the trailhead .7 miles along on the right.
The Bonnieview Road trailhead is about 3.5 miles from the Lodge. Take a left when leaving the Lodge and go about an eighth of a mile to the four way stop (“Four Corners”). Take a right on to Bonnieview Road. The trailhead is on the left about 3.2 miles along.
When the conditions are right this trail can be skied with pretty light tackle – although you’d definitely benefit from metal edges and a bit of heft under foot even in the kindest of conditions as the descent to Bonnieview Road is actually pretty sporty. If your goal is the slide, or some of the tempting tree shots you’ll see along the way, AT or “heavy tele” is the way to go for most. Split boards will work well too. Have fun and be safe! This is some nice Wilmington backcountry that you don’t have to slog, or work very hard, for.
This newly minted trail provides access to a beautiful view of Wilmington from the southern flank of Morgan Mountain on the Stephenson Range. The trail starts at Forestdale Road, on the right, about .3 miles beyond the turn off to the toll booths and before you get to the Cooper Kiln trailhead described at 1 above. This trail is not marked as of yet but, unless there has been a storm, you will see evidence of other skiers and snowshoers. This cool little trail meanders along a gentle contour about a mile or so to an impressive slab of open rock locals have dubbed “The Beach”. Not a strenuous ski by any means, save this one for when you have an hour or so to burn and the weather’s nice. Stuff a few beers in a friend’s pack when he’s not looking and kick back and enjoy them when you reach your destination – which you will in pretty short order.
Poor Man’s Downhill
Or the “PMD” as it’s commonly referred to, is actually just a portion of a dedicated snowmobile trail but it makes for a fun ski when conditions are right. This trail was constructed for snowmobiles and though improved occasionally by the great people at Barkeater Trail Alliance for the enjoyment of the mountain bike community in the non-winter months, it remains a snowmobile trail. If you hear a machine approaching, and you won’t much of the time, please yield the right of way as disagreements between user groups gives me the sads. If you just want to ski this trail the way it’s typically ridden in the summer or fall, you’ll need a friend to drop you at the upper trailhead or a method of retrieving the vehicle you’ve left there. The upper trail head is only three miles from the Lodge. Take a left out of the Lodge and go the short distance to the four way stop known as the Four Corners. Travel straight through and onto the Whiteface Memorial Highway. The trailhead is on the left just before Forestdale Road enters on the right, about 3 miles from the Four Corners. The Great State of New York has kindly been clearing a serviceable parking area at the trailhead in recent years. The trail descends about 1200 vertical feet over approximately three miles and comes out behind Up a Creek Restaurant (good eats!) and LeepOff Bicycles (good bikes!). An instant classic among mountain bikers, we’ve found the PMD to be a fun little ski when conditions permit. Like The Beach, this is not a ski to plan an entire day around; more like something to do with headlamps when the day is over but you’re not quite ready to quit. Another way to ski this trail is to start at the bottom and climb and descend. A well waxed or decent waxless ski is all that’s needed. Although a pretty fast and exhilarating run on a mountain bike, this is a very tame run on skis except in icy or thin conditions. It can be managed on pretty light gear but if you think it may be icy metal edges will help keep the experience “uneventful”. I’m told that a link-up between the PMD with the Flume Trails is in the plans which will open other winter adventures in the future. We’ll keep you posted.
A relaxing, easy tour out to the quieter, more remote end of Lake Placid (the actual lake – not the village with the hockey and the miracles and all that business). Take a left out of the Lodge and go the short distance to the four way stop intersection known as the Four Corners. Take a left , which keeps you on Rt. 86, and head up through the Wilmington Notch – past the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area. The trailhead’s about five miles from the Four Corners on the right as you’re headed toward Lake Placid from Wilmington – just past the bridge over the West Branch of the AuSable River.
The ski is a pretty one, albeit short; it’s only about 2.5 miles to the intersection with the trail that takes you a few short yards down to the shore of Lake Placid. The first 1.5 miles is a gentle climb after which it descends gradually for …..well, you can do the math. At the aforementioned intersection you’ll take a left and ski the 100 or so yards down to Whiteface Landing. If you took a right at this intersection you could eventually top out on the summit of Whiteface itself (but I really wouldn’t recommend this particular ascent with skis!) At its outset from Route 86 the trail crosses an easement over private property on pretty Connery Pond. Please respect these owner’s privacy and stay on the trail. If the ice is solid when you reach Lake Placid go for a little tour! The view of the High Peaks from this lake on a bluebird, winter’s day just never gets old. Do be very certain about the ice though before venturing out on the lake. Probably best to skip it all together in the early and late parts of the ski season . You can manage this easy ski on very light gear.
Whiteface Toll Road
Owen and Cooperas Ponds