Lake George Winter CarnivalWild Winter Fun
The weather in the Lake George Area has been frigid in January. The mercury stalled around zero for days and dipped well below freezing after sunset. When a sunny, 35-degree afternoon appeared in mid-January, I took the day as the gift it was and set out for Gurney Lane Recreation Area in Queensbury to explore their hiking trails.
Gurney Lane is a sprawling recreation center in Queensbury. In the summer, people can swim in the pool, hang at the picnic pavilion, monkey around at the playground, cruise the mountain biking trails, and hike. In the winter, these trails are ideal for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The weather was winter perfect and the cloudless sky was bright blue. I left the office with a smile on my face.
I pulled into Gurney Lane’s driveway and parked in a small lot on the left, stopping in front of the beginning of the blue and green trails. After studying the map at the trailhead, I left the closed-for-the-week ice skating rink behind me and started on the blue trail, leaving my snowshoes in the trunk because the snow on the trail looked mostly packed.
The 1.2-mile blue trail begins steeply. The trail was single-file and recently trudged on, with snow and forest lining both sides. My hiking boots provided plenty of traction. The trail was well-marked with trail markers and blue arrows to point hikers in the right direction. After the short uphill portion in the beginning, the blue trail began to wind through the trees in a flat, meandering route. I could hear cars through the woods and birds singing in the trees, making Gurney Lane feel both nearby and secluded. The sun was shining through the branches to warm both the trail and my back.
The trail continued flat for a stretch, with a few short, small hills to get your blood pumping. I crossed mountain bike trails with gnarly names like Excalibur, Rogue, and Surf. After crossing Excalibur, the trail flowed downhill. I slipped and slid to the bottom of the slope, grabbing handfuls of trees and branches to slow myself down. At the bottom of the hill I found a narrow bridge spanning what looked like a frozen ravine.
After crossing the bridge I found another intersection. A sign asked me to “choose my own adventure,” suggesting that I continue on a longer section of the blue trail or take a shorter trail towards the parking lot. I took the Blue Long Loop option, bringing me uphill again. When you’re hiking through Gurney Lane’s trail system it seems like you’re either high on a ridgeline or low in a valley, with steep hills between the two. This hill happened to be the toughest of the day, but still, it was short and simple.
After more walking on a flat path I came to the yellow trail. I opted to take the longer portion of the yellow trail instead of heading directly to the parking lot. I continued my game of Chutes and Ladders with another sharp hill to climb, finding a wide-open, double-track trail at the top. I was moving towards the parking lot.
As I hiked, I came across a picnic table piled with snow. It hadn’t seen much use in recent weeks. I’m sure in the summer the table is a welcome rest for Gurney Lane hikers. A bit after the picnic table I finally saw people. Two fat-tire cyclists pedaled slowly along the snowy mountain bike trails, deep in conversation. I let them pass and then continued, finally making it to a parking lot, though not the one my car was parked in.
I strolled through the empty lot and down the Gurney Lane driveway to finish my afternoon on the green trail. The final trail was short and easy, with signs on the side of the trail sharing the importance of wildlife and nature. The first sign I reached was an iced-over “Stream Life” sign, educating readers about how important streams are to the area’s wildlife. The green trail, just like the blue trail, was heavily marked with trail markers and full of the winding ups and downs that the rest of Gurney Lane features. Before long, I was back to the parking lot.
Gurney Lane’s trails make for a fast, simple, and beautiful day in the woods. On a sunny winter day, the trails were perfect for a snowshoe hike or a cross-country skiing session. The steep but brief ridge-climbs are enough to warm up any frozen toes, but they won’t tire out many hikers. Overall, the trails at Gurney Lane rate out as easy and highly recommended.