November 20, 2019
The winter season is here. And that means ski season is nearly here. It has been a long eight months since I last clipped in to my cross-country skis, but it is finally almost time. Here at the Adirondak Loj and Heart Lake Program Center, we have 10 miles of ski trails on property (PDF link), as well as numerous options for gliding into the backcountry. Note: the trails at the Adirondak Loj and Heart Lake Program Center are not groomed, though they are patrolled by staff who check for blowdown and set track in the process.
Here are some of my favorite ski trips, which all start from property. Some stay around the area, while others explore the backcountry and all it has to offer.
Outlet Brook Loop – Beginner – 1 mile round-trip
My favorite trail for winding down after a long day, the Outlet Brook Loop starts next to Lean-to #3 in the Wilderness Campground and takes skiers on a pleasant trip through a coniferous forest. Great for beginners, this loop features a few small hills that can help new skiers practice for more challenging runs found elsewhere.
Easy Side Drive and Northwoods Loop – Intermediate – 2 miles round-trip
Skied only clock-wise starting from the end of Parking Lot 3, this loop will test skiers with a big, steep hill in the middle of the Northwoods portion. This big drop is followed by quick climb to the ridge above the trail. Otherwise, Easy Side Drive and the remaining portion of Northwoods are flat and pleasant. Take the Mr. Van trail back to the parking lot to finish.
Marcy Dam Loop – Intermediate – 7 miles round-trip (includes 1 mile of road walking)
Looking beyond the property, this is a popular ski trip that starts from the Van Hoevenberg trailhead. It is best to ski this loop counter clock-wise. To start, follow the hiking trail 2.5 miles in to Marcy Dam. After crossing the high water bridge north of the dam, hang a left to jump on to the Old Marcy Dam Truck Road. There are a few steep climbs at the beginning, but after that you will enjoy a downhill run to the eastern end of South Meadows Lane (2.7 miles from Marcy Dam). From here, follow the lane 1 mile back to Adirondak Loj Road, where you will need to either walk the road 1 mile back to the Loj, or jump onto the Rimrock Trail just after the bridge to ski the rest of the way.
Conversely, if Marcy Brook has frozen over, you can take the Mr. Van Ski Trail, which intersects the Old Marcy Dam Truck Road just before it meets South Meadows Lane, 1.2 miles back to the Van Hoevenberg trailhead. Check with our staff to make sure the crossing is possible before attempting this route.
**Please be aware that much of this trail is shared with snowshoeing hikers. There is also a chance that you may encounter post-holes created by hikers without snowshoes. Use caution and make sure to announce your approach to hikers so they know you are there.**
Mr. Van to Van Hoevenberg Ski Center – Advanced – 9 miles round-trip
A challenging out-and-back through a rarely visited part of the High Peaks Wilderness. Following an 1800s era horse trail used by Henry Van Hoevenberg for mail runs, this trail is a treat for the advanced skier. Jump on the Mr. Van Ski Trail from the Van Hoevenberg trailhead and take it down across Marcy Brook to the Marcy Dam Truck Road. From there, continue straight on the Mr Van Trail until it intersects the Klondike. Turn right and follow the trail 0.1 miles until you reach a left turn for the next segment of the Mr. Van.
**At roughly the same mileage, this trip can also be started at the beginning of South Meadows Lane to avoid the water crossing over Marcy Brook. Follow the road until the Klondike trailhead, which you will then continue on until it intersects the the Mr. Van.**
For the next 2 miles, the Mr. Van takes skiers through a series of rolling hills before dropping to a brook crossing and the Mr. Van lean-to. For a shorter trip, this is a great turn-around point. If skiers wish to continue, the next 1.2 miles is a stiff climb up the shoulder of Mt. Van Hoevenberg to the back end of the Van Hoevenberg Ski Center (ski pass required to enter). From here, turn around for a fantastic downhill run back to the river crossing, followed by the remainder of the trail heading back to the Loj.