It's All Downhill From Here

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by Michael Martineau

It's All Downhill From Here

The best cure for winter doldrums? Adrenaline. Use this guide to find your ideal Adirondack alpine ski area and let gravity do the rest.


Oak Mountain | Speculator, NY

Best For: Family weekends

The Scene: Lifts spin Friday to Sunday at this southern Adirondack ski area – meaning midweek snowfall lingers for weekend warriors. The four-seater chair lift whisks you to Oak Mountain’s 2,400-foot summit. Pick from 22 trails to descend 650 vertical feet. Lifts close at 4 p.m., but the tubing hill runs until 7 p.m. Then, head to the slope side Acorn Pub & Eatery for burgers, pizza, and six craft beers on tap.

Off-Hill Activity: Explore Oak’s snowshoe trails, or head into town for ice skating (both free). In winter, Speculator’s outdoor pavilion by Lake Pleasant becomes an outdoor rink.


Mount Pisgah | Saranac Lake, NY

Best For: Never-evers

The Scene: Make your first turns at this friendly town hill north of the High Peaks. PSIA-certified instructors guide you onto the T-bar, which climbs 329 feet. Perfect your snowplow, parallel arcs, or snowboard carves on 15 skiable acres. All trails lead back to a base lodge, where hot cocoa and a stone fireplace chase chills away. Thanks to a tubing hill and 3.5 kilometers of snowshoe trails, even non-skiers leave with a smile.

Off-Hill Activity: February’s Winter Carnival, a Saranac Lake tradition since 1909. After ski races at Pisgah, visit the ice castle and watch a parade along Main Street.


Titus Mountain | Malone, NY

Best For: Affordable adventure

The Scene: What’s happening just south of the Canadian border? A whole lot, actually. Ski the mountain named the number one family-friendly ski area and third best beginner-friendly ski area in North America by Liftopia for the 2017-18 season! Titus visitors get access to three mountains, 143 acres, and 1,200 vertical feet, plus a trio of terrain parks, a tubing hill, and night skiing every Friday and Saturday. Even better? A lift ticket costs just a few bucks more than a tank of gas.

Off-Hill Activity: When wind kicks up on the mountain, retreat an hour’s drive south to The Wild Center, a natural history museum and science center in Tupper Lake and bust out the cross-country skis instead! With miles of beautiful trails, it’s the ideal alternative to an alpine day.


Whiteface Mountain | Wilmington, NY

Best For: Olympic-sized vertical

The Scene: Located on New York’s fifth-highest peak, this ski area offers 3,166 vertical feet, the greatest drop east of the Rockies. Ride the Summit chair to survey three peaks, with 86 trails over 288 acres, and views from the Adirondack High Peaks to Vermont’s Green Mountains. Or, start at Bear Den Mountain, a quiet zone with trails designed to help beginners succeed. At Whiteface, every trip downhill advances your skills and proves your mettle.

Off-Hill Activity: Visit wolves at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, hike past frozen waterfalls at High Falls Gorge, and grab a bite to eat at the Hungry Trout. Or, drive 13 miles to Olympic venues, shops, and restaurants on Lake Placid’s Main Street. Make it a weekend trip – there are plenty of charming year-round lodging options to choose from!


Gore Mountain | North Creek, NY

Best For: Varied terrain

The Scene: Only 20 minutes from Schroon Lake, Gore Mountain features some of the most diverse terrain in the North Country, with multiple lifts, glade skiing, and beginner to expert trails. For the adult or child beginners in your group, Gore Mountain offers an excellent Snow Sports School as well as onsite childcare.

Off-Hill Activity: If you’re not ready for the big slopes, or you’re just looking for an afternoon of winter fun, head to the Schroon Lake Ski Center, located on the Schroon Lake Municipal Golf Course. There you can enjoy beginner skiing as well as family snow tubing and sledding.


Roger’s Rock | Ticonderoga

Best For: Cross-country Ski

The Scene: Not everyone enjoys the thrill of downhill. For those more comfortable with flat ground, head to Ticonderoga and enjoy groomed cross-country trails at the local state campground. Or take advantage of the 56 Champlain Area Trails. Whatever your speed, there is something for every cross-country skier in the Lake Champlain Region.

Off-Hill Activity: Winter turns the waterfalls at Ausable Chasm into breathtaking natural ice sculptures. Come take a tour and see how ice ads to the unique geological structures of the 500-million-year-old sandstone chasm.