In one word, The Adirondacks! Backpack hiking over the winter season gives a whole new perspective of this area. It is absolutely gorgeous in the summer months, but I consider it magical come winter. If you are looking for a weekend fix for your need for nature, consider the Lake Placid area of New York State for hiking on foot, snowshoe hiking or cross country skiing. There is quite the range of options for all abilities. Prepare to be amazed with this winter wonderland.
Short And Easy Day Hiking
Hiking trails in Lake Placid are available year round. There are literally hundreds to choose from with something for everyone in all levels of hiking ability. There are flat trails that offer walking with easy accessibility for families and kids. One such hike is Cobble Hill accessed in downtown Lake Placid. The trail begins as a leisure walk through the woods, eventually coming to a crossroads where you can choose from two trails. There's an easy to navigate hiking trail to Echo Pond, which is such a peaceful place, even in winter. The longer, easier trail up Cobble bypasses the exposed rock face you would encounter ascending the shorter, steeper trail, and it takes you to a second summit which offers breathtaking views of the High Peaks region.
Mount Jo: This trail descends gently 300 yds. reaching a road next to Heart Lake. After 60 yards, the true start of the trail to Mt. Jo. begins. After 1/4 mile of climb, there is a junction. The Short Trail goes right while the Long trail goes straight. The Short Trail is only 0.2 mi. shorter, but is considerably steeper and rougher, so the Long Trail is better for most family groups. The two trails rejoin just before the summit. Total distance 1.1 mi. or 1.3 mi. depending on which trail is taken.
Washbowl via Chapel Pond
The Washbowl is an easy hike for families with children or photographers. There is a nice view just before the Washbowl. Chapel Pond provides a popular swimming spot in summer, but for winter, you could bring your ice skates. Total roundtrip for this hike is 1.4 miles which has easy walking.
Owen, Copperas and Winch Ponds
These three ponds are located in the Sentinel Range and offer excellent loop opportunities. There are two trails that lead into the area and either of them can be used to create a loop to the three ponds. Copperas Pond, with great views of Whiteface Mountain offers great backpacking/camping potentials with a lean-to located on its shore.
High Falls Gorge - Whiteface Mountain
This one mile long hike is perfect for beginner to intermediate snowshoe hikers. High Falls Gorge is especially spectacular in the winter months. Come for a nature walk, and gasp at the spectacular ice formations on 700 feet of frozen waterfalls. Afterward, roast marshmallows over a warm campfire and enjoy complimentary hot beverages. It is a truly unforgettable part of the Adirondack experience.
Stag Brook Falls - Wilmington NY
Stag Brook Falls is an excellent couple hours of hiking along an attractive brook with numerous waterfalls and cascades. This hike is an excellent snowshoe outing and gets moderate use. This would make an excellent introduction to snowshoeing for the entire family. The hike will start uphill and continue to climb to its end. The largest of the falls is not too far along the trail and can be enjoyed from the base or from a bit higher as you continue along the trail. The trail continues along the left of the brook as it makes it way higher along the cascade. Other small waterfalls can be observed along the way. Hiking time is about an hour.
A Longer More Challenging Hike
One of the fastest growing winter sports today is snowshoeing. Even though hunters and outdoorsmen have been using snow shoes to navigate winter foot travel for more than 6,000 years, it's making a comeback as an excellent winter cross-training activity to stay in shape, burning more than 600 calories per hour. What a great way to get fresh air, exercise and gorgeous scenery all at the same time. Here's a great one to try:
Goodnow Mountain, Newcomb NY
From the trailhead this hike leads to a flat area for awhile before climbing easily once again and slowly gain elevation before climbing the final portion of the mountain. An old horse barn that you will pass along the way to the summit offers a great spot for a break. Upon the summit you will come to the fire tower. The tower is in great condition and should be climbed by all who visit. Use caution with the potential for icy steps. Be prepared for high winds and a serious wind chill from the tower. If you are dressed properly, it will be worth the views of the High Peaks. Round trip, this hike should take 3-5 hours depending on your level of experience with snowshoes.
No Snowshoes....No Problem
Come explore the beauty of our winter wonderland by snowshoe! Their experienced and licensed guides will help to outfit you and your group with rentals, poles, and any other gear you may need to make sure you have a great snowshoeing adventure! Climb one of the 46 High Peaks, explore a fire tower mountain, bushwhack a seldom explored peak to hidden views or take a scenic stroll, whatever adventure best meets your interests and ability, it's all here waiting for you to enjoy. You can also combine your snowshoeing adventure with a winter mountaineering and camping course and enjoy a multi-sport winter backcountry experience.