’Tis the season for skiing

Ski centers begin opening up in the Adirondacks

Skiers enjoy the slopes at Whiteface Mountain this past weekend. The ski center opened for the season on Saturday, Nov. 19. (Provided photo — ORDA)

LAKE PLACID — State-operated ski centers in the Olympic Region opened for the season on Saturday, Nov. 19, and skiing has begun at the new Cascade Welcome Center, formerly the Cascade Ski Touring Center, now owned and operated by the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Mount Van Hoevenberg

Officials at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Nordic ski center announced Saturday that the additional snowfall on Friday was enough to help crews open the facility four days earlier than expected.

The Nordic ski center at Mount Van Hoevenberg opened for the season on Saturday, Nov. 19. The Mountain Pass Lodge is seen here on Monday, Nov. 21. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

On Thursday, Nov. 17, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that Mount Van Hoevenberg would be opening for the season on Wednesday, Nov. 23. However, lake-effect snow accelerated the opening date.

“All it took was a little help from mother nature and just like that we are open,” stated a post on Mount Van Hoevenberg’s Facebook page on Saturday.

The ski center opened with 5 kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing “on thin cover” starting by the Biathlon Range, the Mount Van Hoevenberg website reported. Rock skis were being recommended. The World Cup trails remained closed for snowmaking. Ski centers officials expect that — with a base being laid down by the snowmaking system — 1.5 kilometers of the World Cup Trails will open on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The facility will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving and reopen for the season on Friday.

Improvements at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Nordic ski center were completed in 2020. It is now a world-class facility with 5 kilometers of World Championship-rated cross-country skiing trails for training and racing.

The trail system includes snowmaking infrastructure with high-efficiency snow guns. For more information, visit mtvanhoevenberg.com.

Signs at the Craig Wood Golf Course on Monday, Nov. 21, show cross-country skiers at the facility and the Jackrabbit Trail where to park. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Downhill skiing

On Nov. 17, the governor announced the start of the 2022-23 Alpine ski season with the opening of several ski centers operated by the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, based in Lake Placid.

The venues — Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, Gore Mountain in North Creek and Belleayre Mount in Highmount — rolled out their openings starting on Friday, Nov. 18.

The Cascade Welcome Center on state Route 73 is seen here on Monday, Nov. 21, a day after welcoming its first cross-country skiers of the season. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

“With the opening of these world-class ski areas, New York is entering into peak season for its $16 billion winter tourism industry,” Hochul said in a press release. “We have invested more than $550 million in our winter sports facilities, upgrading our infrastructure, preparing them for ski season, and giving them the lift they need ahead of the World University Games. I am thrilled to welcome visitors back to the slopes and encourage everyone to join us next year in Lake Placid for one of the largest winter sporting events in New York State history.”

Lake Placid’s 2023 FISU Winter World University Games will be held from Jan. 11 to 22 at various venues across the North Country, including Whiteface Mountain, Mount Van Hoevenberg and Gore Mountain.

ORDA continually improves its snowmaking systems at these ski centers. That means the ski centers can open earlier in the fall and stay open later in the spring.

“Our team has made terrific progress since snowmaking began, and we are ready to welcome our skiers and snowboarders,” ORDA President and CEO Mike Pratt said in a press release.

Snowmaking began at Whiteface Mountain on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 13.

Gore Mountain and Belleayre Mountain opened on Nov. 18, and Whiteface opened on Nov. 19. They were all open through Sunday, closed mid-week for further preparation, and expect to reopen on Friday for the season.

Whiteface Mountain will be opening two new trails this year — the Ausable Run, a beginner trail off the Warhorse Quad lift, and Yellow Dot, an expert trail connecting the top of Victoria to Lower Skyward. For its snowmaking operations, the ski center installed 35,000 feet of new pipe, 160 high-efficiency snow guns and 245 new hydrants. There are also two new Pisten Bully groomers. For more information, visit whiteface.com.

Cascade Welcome Center

The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Cascade Welcome Center on state Route 73 opened for the season on Nov. 11. It includes a retail shop with cross-country ski rentals.

By Sunday, tracks were set and the facility welcomed its first skiers of the season. The center offers 12 miles of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

“We are so excited to welcome visitors, locals, and ADK supporters alike to explore the family-friendly trails at Cascade Welcome Center,” ADK Executive Director Michael Barrett said in a press release. “As a part of our inaugural season, we are also announcing a new benefit for ADK members: free skiing and snowshoeing at the center.”

Cascade Welcome Center operators are also planning some programs this winter, such as cross-country skiing clinics, ski maintenance workshops and naturalist walks.

Up-to-date trail conditions and details about rates and services are available at adk.org/cascade-welcome-center.

The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondak Loj outside of Lake Placid is also a hub for snowshoeing and backcountry skiing, as it is surrounded by state Forest Preserve. Staff at the High Peaks Information Center at Heart Lake can help visitors with recreational needs heading into the backcountry. Learn more at adk.org.

Scotts Cobble

Owners of High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid are planning to open a new cross-country ski center in December at the Craig Wood Golf Course, owned and operated by the town of North Elba.

Brian and Karen Delaney said recently that they’ve named the winter trail system — using the golf course and the Jackrabbit Trail, which runs through the property — after the old downhill ski center operated there by the North Elba Park District from the 1938 to 1973: Scotts Cobble. They are calling it the Scotts Cobble Recreation Center. It is located off state Route 73.

Brian Delaney’s vision is for the center to offer cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, sledding, nighttime skiing and backcountry skiing. He also wants the 10k of trails to be free for residents in the Tri-Lakes communities. The golf course clubhouse would be the ski center’s lodge in the winter.

The ski center’s grand opening is tentatively planned for Dec. 17. Learn more by calling High Peaks Cyclery at 518-523-3764.

Jackrabbit Trail

Maintained by the Barkeater Trails Alliance, the Jackrabbit Trail runs from Keene to Paul Smiths, traveling through Lake Placid and Saranac Lake and extending from Paul Smiths to Lake Clear.

During the winter, BETA posts regular ski condition updates for the Jackrabbit Trail and the High Peaks online at betatrails.org/conditions.

Conditions of trail sections — including areas that have been updated, changed or closed — that are detailed are the Paul Smith’s College VIC to North Country Community College; NCCC to McKenzie Pond Road; McKenzie Pond Road to Whiteface Inn Lane; Whiteface Inn Lane to Mirror Lake/Lake Placid Club; Mirror Lake/Lake Placid Club to Craig Wood; and the ADK Cascade Welcome Center to Keene.

Nearby ski centers

Other ski centers that are near Lake Placid include the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (cross-country skiing and snowshoeing); Mount Pisgah Recreation Center (downhill skiing, tubing and snowshoeing) and Dewey Mountain Recreation Center (cross-country skiing and snowshoeing) in Saranac Lake; and the town of Tupper Lake’s James C. Frenette Sr. Recreational Trails (cross-country skiing and snowshoeing) at the Tupper Lake Golf Club on Mount Morris.

Starting at $1.44/week.

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