Winter transforms the mountains, valleys and lakes into a glittering wonderland of powdery snow, brisk air and bright blue skies. The area becomes a play land for winter sports enthusiasts. With top-rated centers for alpine and Nordic skiing, an extensive network of snowmobile trails and a season of winter carnivals, you’ll find your perfect winter break in the Lake George Area. After a day of romping in the snow, you can relax by an open fire at one of the many fine lodges, or step out to enjoy the area’s vibrant nightlife.
Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
What is your ideal ski hill? Big mountain, little mountain, or how about steep natural terrain and tree skiing? You’ll find them all here.
The Lake George Area is home to one of New York’s premier ski areas, Gore Mountain. Ski Magazine’s Best in the East 2017 Ski Resort Guide describes Gore’s terrain, as “unusually charismatic — long, rolling cruisers; accessible, roomy glades— and the scenery is exceptional.” With 109 trails and more than 2,500 vertical feet over four peaks, skiers and riders will find trails to suit all ability levels.
Family-run and family-orientated, West Mountain in Glens Falls is a smaller mountain that is big on value. With 30 trails for beginner and intermediate skiers, lift-assisted snow tubing and terrain parks everyone can enjoy a day on the slopes. After dark, the new LED lights come on for night skiing.
With miles of groomed and back country cross-country ski trails, the Lake George Area offers terrain for classic and skate skiers of all ability levels. Explore snowy trails that wind through stands of hemlock and birch, or paths that hug the bank of the Hudson River. Spend a winter day gliding over frozen ponds and lakes or perfect your technique at night along the lit trails of a city park.
Opening for winter 2016-2017 is a new Nordic ski area at the North Creek Ski Bowl. The facility, which is adjacent to Gore Mountain, boasts a 4.24-kilometer network of trails with grooming, snow making and lights.
In an average winter, the snowpack in the Lake George Area can exceed five feet. Combine this with a snowmobile trail system that connects the communities of Warren County and you are in prime snow machine country. Four local snowmobile clubs maintain more than 200 miles of connected trails across public and private lands through forests, up mountainsides and along riverbanks with breathtaking scenery.
Snow sculptures, ice castles and bonfires on the beach — winter carnival season is the time to celebrate nature’s dazzling winter transformation. When the temperature drops, the area’s tranquil lakes freeze solid providing wide-open spaces for fun and sport. Cars, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobile and even outhouses race over the ice and snow encouraged by cheering crowds. Helicopters lift off lake surfaces to fly passengers over the frosted mountains; a team of huskies pulls riders across the snow.
On shore, musicians perform by a crackling bonfire, festival-goers roast marshmallows for s’mores and taste samples of chili, chicken wings, chowder and barbecue in cook-off competitions. Dog owners show off their pets in doggie talent shows and children slide down a toboggan run. A few hearty souls strip down to their swimwear and plunge into the chilly lake. At dusk, wish lanterns are released into the sky and spectacular fireworks light up the winter sky.
These are just some of the carnival sights you’ll see when visiting the Lake George Area in the winter. Find winter carnivals in February in Lake George Village, Hague and Brant Lake.
When the gentle lapping waters of the Lake George Area’s lakes and ponds freeze over, communities of ice shanties rise on their surface. The region is known for its excellent fishing and ice fishing brings a different vibe to the sport. Unlike the solitude of casting into the open water of a secret fishing hole, jigging through a six-inch hole in the ice for perch, walleye and pike, setting tip-ups and waiting for flags to pop is a social affair. It’s a neighborhood party where young and old work together to make that record-breaking catch or fill a skittle with panfish for dinner.
There are more than three dozen lakes and ponds in the Lake George Area. The smaller bodies of water freeze earlier in the season for those eager to get out there. Lake George is a prime ice fishing destination that attracts anglers from across the Northeast. Its large size means it generally needs until mid-January to build up a solid layer of ice, although some of the bays will freeze up earlier.
The hiking season doesn’t end with the first snowfall. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and experience the brisk mountain air and snow-muffled beauty of the Adirondacks with this traditional method of moving through the snow. It is an accessible sport requiring little technical skill (if you can walk, you can snowshoe) and minimal equipment, just snowshoes with bindings, sturdy boots and warm clothing. Poles are optional.
Most of the area’s Nordic ski trails allow snowshoeing alongside the groomed XC trails. Some have trails dedicated to snowshoeing. If you are new to snowshoeing, Up Yonda Farm in Bolton Landing offers low-cost guided snowshoeing tours with equipment rentals to give newcomers a feel for this popular winter sport.
– Gillian Burdette