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Discussion: XC Skiing NY, MA, VT area

in: Orienteering; General

Sep 14, 2017 12:49 PM # 
Any recommendations for nice skating XC tracks in the NY, MA, VT area which typically has snow in the december/january time?

We're looking to spend a couple of days on the skis and ideally it would even have a little slope to put a toddler for the first time on skis.

Sep 14, 2017 2:35 PM # 
Natural snow is totally weather dependent. Some years we can be on snow as early as November, and others not until mid-January or later. The most reliable for early snow is the Tug Hill region. Osceola Ski Center is there.

Some areas are now making snow for xc skiers. Bristol Mountain, Gore Mountain Ski Bowl, and Craftsbury Ski Center come to mind in that category. I'm sure there are others.

Many other areas that don't make snow may well have plenty by Dec/Jan. Or not. Unless you're trying to plan a trip well in advance the best thing to do is keep an eye on the weather maps and the ski centers' websites and see what's on the ground before starting the car.
Sep 14, 2017 2:36 PM # 
First off, you should come to the Ski Orienteering World Master Championships, March 5-10, in Craftsbury VT.

Failing that...

December is not a reliable month - generally need to find locations with manmade snow, which is typically on the race courses. Those aren't great for touring, because they're super hilly with technical descents.

January/February is better. I can't recommend Craftsbury Outdoor Center enough; they have a fantastic dining hall and lodging right on the trails, which are extensive. It's far enough north that snow is reliable. In that neck of the woods, the Trapp Family lodge also has extensive trails, but they're a little hillier. There are a bunch of smaller "mom and pop" type areas there, too, like Sleepy Hollow, Ole's, Blueberry Hill, Bolton, and more. I can't speak for their snow situations.

Further south, you've got Breadloaf ski area, on the Middlebury gap, and they make snow on the race trails. Lodging, though, is down the hill in Middlebury. Mountaintop Resort, near Rutland, is usually high enough to have good snow, with lodging interspersed with the trails. That can be frustrating for skiing, but also nice for staying there.

Even further south, you've got Wildwings and Viking in the Stratton/Bromley area, but neither of those are particularly large. This area is high enough to keep its snow through the various thaws. Acceptable skiing on some of the Forest Service roads (Danby road is pretty reliably groomed for snowmobiles, but no guarantee of a classic track). Then down in Woodford you've got Prospect Mountain, which doesn't have much lodging near it, but has a nice trail system that isn't too hilly. Prospect usually has very reliable snow.

There are lots of other Vermont ski areas, those are just the ones I'm most familiar with.

Western Mass. has Notchview XC, which is a nice touring center, but not very reliable snow, and all the snow is natural. No big hills on those trails. In southern NH (basically massachusetts), Windblown XC and Dublin School trails have good snow, and Windblown even has a ski-o map somewhere. Dublin School makes snow on a 5k loop, and is the highest incorporated town in NH, so keeps it, too.

I can't speak for NY anymore. Used to ski at Lake Placid a lot, but lately the snow situation there has been iffy.
Sep 14, 2017 2:58 PM # 
Lately? There was no snow in Lake Placid in 1980 when they hosted the winter olympics. They hauled manmade snow out on the xc trails using manure spreaders.

Also since you mentioned ski-O, I was just wondering the other day if there is going to be a US or NA champs this year? I'd somehow gotten the impression they were going to be bundled with the World Cup/Masters but I don't see any mention of either on the website for that event.
Sep 14, 2017 3:09 PM # 
I believe it is the NA Champs? Or maybe it's also US Champs? I think it's one or the other, one of the days of middle distances. More info on the website soon!
Sep 14, 2017 3:10 PM # 
Fossil, was your example of no snow a lake placid in 1980 meant to indicate that was the last time they had no snow, ie, ever since it has been fine. Or did you mean to indicate that they often have no snow and in 1980 it had very annoying ramifications?
Sep 14, 2017 3:19 PM # 
Craftsbury will be US champs. Still working out details of how that is working in with the WCup schedule and WMSOC schedules, but details will be on the website soon.
Sep 14, 2017 3:20 PM # 
The latter. Alex is right that the snow situation there is iffy. I was just pointing out that it wasn't just a lately thing. I also remember visiting there at times in the 90's when you couldn't ski in or near Lake Placid, but you could travel 30-60 minutes in just about any direction chosen at random and find enough snow to ski.

Of course there are also times when there is plenty of snow. But it's annoying when they schedule races at MVH and then move them to the trail at the ski jumps. There's snowmaking but it's not a very fun place to race.
Sep 14, 2017 3:24 PM # 
Craftsbury will be US champs.
That's good to hear! Am hoping it can be on a weekend so my kids can compete.
Sep 14, 2017 3:46 PM # 
Awesome - thanks a lot ! This gives us a couple of areas to look at.
@Alex - March is late and I guess two trips up there will be stretching it too much so probably no Masters
Sep 14, 2017 7:06 PM # 
To veer even further off course, I just noted this in the World Cup/Masters info:

Waxing trailer reservations are due by Sept 18th, 2017... Reserved trailers will be the only indoor waxing spaces available.

That's only 4 days from now! Does anyone happen to know if a trailer has already been reserved for USA skiers? Assuming the cost isn't astronomical I'd be willing to pay 1/n of one to share with a group. Is it a reasonable assumption others will likely join in once the word gets around?
Sep 14, 2017 7:20 PM # 
I used to ski a lot at the Woodstock Ski Touring Center in VT. During the summer it is the Woodstock Country club so the terrain is pretty flat though there are trails that head off into the hills. Like others have implied though, you really need to check on snow conditions before deciding where to go. If you want to make your travel and accommodation arrangements now though, you should probably think about the places that make snow like Trapps and Craftsbury in VT.
Sep 15, 2017 9:14 AM # 
Yes, there is a great XC ski area near NY and VT. It is called Canada. And with the current dollar exchange rates the prices are pretty good, particularly in ski areas mid week.
Sep 15, 2017 3:38 PM # 
An excellent point. Among others, some fun places to ski there are the Gatineau Park, Mount Sainte Anne, and Hardwood Hills. Mount Sainte Anne in particular is another area with fairly reliable early snow. (Early in comparison to further south.)
Sep 15, 2017 3:43 PM # 
If skiing in southern Ontario I highly recommend Highlands Nordic over Hardwood Hills. A much more enjoyable ski experience at Highlands (and cheaper). Ski areas usually open in early December.

Highlands web page:

Other good ski areas north of Toronto are:
Wasaga Nordic (Wasaga Beach)
Scenic Caves (Blue Mountain)
Georgian Nordic (Parry Sound) (the club I belong to)
Sep 15, 2017 4:09 PM # 
If Mt Ste Anne interests you I can probably set you up in a condo for about $500 for the week. Less than 5 miles to downhill and XC skiing both of which have been used for World Cup events.
Sep 15, 2017 4:37 PM # 
Lapland Lake in Nortville NY. My kids learned to ski there. Very nice family oriented place with good grooming if there just is enough snow. They also have cabins to rent, or you can stay in a hotel/motel in Johnstown/Gloversville area (about 30 minutes drive). Convenient distance for weekend trip from NYC metro area.

If we get lucky enough for really good white stuff Fahnestock State Park in Carmel NY has excellent grooming. They have rentals, cafeteria for lunch and nice new bathroom/shower building. Worth the day trip!
Sep 18, 2017 7:09 AM # 
There's a great XC ski area near Canada. It's called the North Pole. Not much of a midweek discount there, though.
Sep 22, 2017 6:31 PM # 
Gunstock in Gilford, NH has been making snow for XC in addition to on the downhill slopes for several years now - depending on when temps allow, they start with a 400m loop, then expand out from there. Been a couple of years when the XC center has opened before the downhill slopes. During years where natural snow has been an issue, they've hosted the majority of the HS XC races in the state, as it's the only place with usable conditions. Good beginner area with loops suitable for small ones, as well as some more challenging trails. Downhill area is just around the corner, with beginner slopes and a cool tubing hill.
Sep 22, 2017 7:07 PM # 
Assuming you don't want to drive forever, I would recommend the NY Hudson River areas, as Lisa recommended, or western MA, as did Alex,
And there is one in NJ, I have only been there in the summer.
Sep 24, 2017 9:12 PM # 
The Mt. Washington Valley in NH has 4 Nordic areas! But a long drive for you. Jackson (on its higher elevation trails) and Great Glen Trails tend to have the earliest snow. Bretton Woods can have earlier snow, but has not been as reliable in recent years. Bear Notch Ski Touring is very sun/wind protected but lower elevation.

This discussion thread is closed.