The Adirondacks are the East’s natural jungle-gym. The lakes are distinctive, numerous, and always boasting clean water. Most of the hiking trails double as snowshoe or cross-country trails, usually leading to a miles-long mountain tableau. The quiet and rambling streams are interrupted only by the patient angler and the leap-and-splash of a brook or rainbow trout.
People travel hundreds of miles every summer to relax in the Adirondacks. Not many know that snow and ice usher in a totally different type of outdoor adventure to the Lake George Area every winter. Have you been itching to spend a winter weekend among snow-capped mountains and frozen lakes? Check out our ideal winter weekend in the Lake George Area!
Your car is packed and the heat is cranking. You’ve got layers of warm clothes, your ski or snowboard gear, your snowshoes and winter boots, and your cross-country equipment. You even remembered to buckle the kids into the car! It’s time to hit the open road, cruise up the Adirondack Northway, and revel in a winter weekend. For this trip, you’ve decided to stay a bit off the beaten path. Determining exactly which community you stay in depends on what you expect from a winter lodging property.
If you’re looking for luxurious Adirondack lodging, a room in Chestertown should do the trick. Chestertown is an idyllic community with plenty of winter features nearby, so a stay in one of these two rustic hotels guarantees you’re close to the winter action.
The Fern Lodge is a picturesque property perched on the shores of Friends Lake. Guests love the elegant rooms that feature king-sized beds and grand fireplaces. The high-quality service and striking mountain views don’t hurt either. Another lavish lodging option in Chestertown is Friends Lake Inn. Each room in this boutique hotel is distinctly decorated with its own flavor. Many rooms have wondrous views of the water, and offer amenities designed for a winter escape such as Jacuzzi tubs and stone fireplaces. No visit to Friends Lake Inn is complete without a romantic meal in their main dining room, a refined restaurant serving New-American cuisine using fresh local ingredients.
If your winter weekend is mostly about hitting the slopes, you’ll want to rent a room in North Creek. This small mountain town at the base of Gore Mountain is a growing skier’s getaway. If you want to sleep so close to the mountain that you can hear the groomers at night, the Gore Mountain Lodge is your place. This contemporary hotel, which has recently renovated rooms and state-of-the-art amenities, is located two minutes from Gore Mountain’s parking lot and five minutes from downtown North Creek. You can roll out of bed and head straight for the gondola, or stay on the grounds and hike the trails behind the Lodge. If a more extravagant stay near Gore Mountain is in order, reserve a room at the Phoenix Inn Resort. This Adirondack resort has the amenities you’d expect at an upscale property, such as free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, an indoor sauna, spa services, and more. Each spacious guestroom includes a down duvet on two queen-sized or one king-sized bed, marble bathrooms with roman tubs, and a ski rack.
After a long drive to the Lake George Area and a pleasant check-in process, head out on the town and grab a quick meal. After you’ve finished dinner, it’s time to relax and get ready for a big Saturday in the Adirondacks…
You wake up early to natural sunlight streaming through your window and light snow drifting towards the ground. The sky is azure-blue, and the conditions are perfect for a day at one of the Lake George Area’s two ski mountains.
Skiers and snowboarders have flocked to the Lake George Area to ride Gore Mountain for generations. Gore’s 121 trails range from easy runs for the entire family to expert steeps that only experienced skiers and riders should attempt. Simple runs, such as Sunway or Showcase, are long, wide-open cruisers ideal for those who haven’t spent much time on the mountain. Tougher trails, such as Hawkeye and Chatiemac, are steep and often mogul-covered runs that require precise turns and tuned equipment. Glades and terrain parks dot the mountain, ensuring that every type of skier and rider has a trail to ride over and over again.
If a smaller and more intimate mountain is more to you and your family’s liking, make the short trip to West Mountain in Queensbury. West is smaller than Gore, making it perfect for families with children. The mountain is roomy enough to give young skiers and riders some freedom, but not so large that your youngins will get lost. Just like Gore, West Mountain has a healthy mix of easy to difficult terrain, with plenty of rails and kickers to conquer. Can’t get enough of the snow during the day? Ski and snowboard all night under the lights at West Mountain.
Don’t worry if Memaw or Pappy don’t strap on their snowboards anymore. Both West and Gore Mountains have lodges filled with tables to pass the time on. Gore Mountain has a food court, as well as the Tannery Pub & Restaurant, which serves a full menu of pub-style grub. West also has a food court and a full menu at their East Slope Bar & Eatery. The killer terrain and the tasty lunch options coupled with 2020-21 improvements for both mountains makes skiing and snowboarding in the Lake George Area one of the highlights of a winter weekend.
Not all trails are meant to be skied and boarded. If hiking is more your thing, trailheads are waiting to be discovered all over Chestertown. For short hikes with stellar views, climb either Kipp or Stewart Mountains. Both trails are quick, taking even the greenest of hikers less than an hour to reach the top. Each summit has a close-up view of Loon Lake, a quiet paradise in the winter. If you’d like to hike all day long, conquer Kipp and Stewart Mountains before completing the rest of the Chester Challenge. Oh yeah, if there’s a lot of snow on the ground outside your hotel, there’s probably even more in the woods. Don’t forget your snowshoes or cross-country skis.
Another non-downhill skiing option is found at the North Creek Ski Bowl. Cross-country skiers adore the 3.7 kilometers of professionally-designed trails. The routes range from easy to difficult, winding through forests and emerging into arena-like settings. Inclines vary, and lights illuminate many of the trails. Snowshoers are welcome to trudge along the sides of trails. You may even be able to see some professional Nordic action if you’re at the North Creek Ski Bowl on the right weekend.
And guess what, there’s more! Plant your tip-ups on Lake George, Brant Lake, Glen Lake, or any of the other frozen bodies of water in the Lake George Area and pull in a beast of a fish. Scream down Dynamite Hill on your sled or toboggan. Lace up your ice skates and pass the puck around all afternoon. Take a guided snowmobile tour along miles of wooded trails. The winter options for a wide open Saturday afternoon will satisfy nearly every outdoor enthusiast.
Unless you’re skiing under the lights at West Mountain or flying down the slopes at the North Creek Ski Bowl, your afternoon of winter recreation is over when the sun goes down. You’ve probably worked up a mighty appetite after all of that fun. Dinner is served.
There’s a solid spread of flavors going on in Chestertown. For some of the finest Italian food in the Lake George Area, the place to mangiare is The Place. This cozy, family-owned restaurant on route 8 serves outrageous Italian food for bargain prices. Their “Create your own Pasta Dish” menu should be a staple for every Italian establishment in the world. One more note – as a testimonial on their website reads, “Be careful if you're on a diet, though; Portions are HUGE!”
Latin American comfort food is the specialty at the Bullhouse. Located on Main Street in Chestertown, this casual meeting place scores big with steak and seafood lovers looking for some different flavors. Some recommended dishes to check out include the queso-stuffed jalapeños and the beef Barbacoa. Don’t miss out on their buy-one-get-one happy hour special, every night from 4 to 6 p.m. Come to think of it, the lifts stop spinning around that time. Isn’t that perfect?
North Creek has its own tasty local establishments to choose from. For an après-ski pint or two, stop in at Basil & Wicks. This bar & restaurant sits about a mile from Gore’s main lodge, making it a must-stop watering-hole among skiers and riders. If you decide to stay for dinner, their Adirondack-themed menu features hot soups, light salads, filling entrees, and that juicy cheeseburger you’re craving after a day on the hill.
For a truly eclectic ski-town spot in North Creek, try barVino. Perched on Main Street, this welcoming restaurant and wine bar uses locally-sourced ingredients in a diverse menu and serves approachable wines and beers. If you’re a fan of live music, check barVino’s website. They may have some cool jazz floating among the tables.
That was a short and lively weekend. After a few days of skiing fluffy powder, exploring mountain summits, eating your fill in Adirondack restaurants, and catching a few winks of shuteye when you can, it’s time to give those snowboots a break. If you want to squeeze a few more glorious hours out of your trip there are a few more stops you can make. First, grab a cup of coffee and a quick bite to eat. In North Creek, Café Sarah or Izzy’s Market & Deli are your places for breakfast. In Chestertown, stop in at the Crossroads for a breakfast sandwich.
After you’ve eaten, you have a few options. A scenic drive around the Lake George Area would be a gorgeous way to drag out your visit. Want to burn a little post-Christmas cash? The Factory Outlets of Lake George is an easy stop on your way out of town. Or maybe just stay in bed, pull the covers up, and start booking next winter’s weekend trip to the Lake George Area? Yeah, that’s an even better idea.