in the Hudson Valley

Ken Roberts and Sharon Marsh Roberts

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Our Favorites 

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Beginners 

Here's some places we know with gentle trails from the base lodge, with equipment rentals and ski lessons: 

  • Fahnestock Winter Park -- flat trails starting right next to the parking lot and base lodge and equipment rental area.  Lots more flat terrain when the lake trails are open for skiing.

  • Mohonk Mountain House -- for guests of the hotel (or those otherwise lucky to be able to start skiing from the hotel instead of the gatehouse):  gentle Lake Shore trail starting from the ski shop by the hotel. It connects to some other trails which have some hilliness but not real steep.

non-guests:  From the Gatehouse where non-guests usually park, there is the Bounticou Rd trail which is gentle out to near Bonticou Crag and back the same way -- but there are no equipment rentals at the gatehouse and only a small warming room. 

Of course on a weekend day with good snow and weather, places with this combination of features can get rather crowded, so try to arrive early.

non-skiing friends?  Some of those places might rent snowshoes, for non-skiers who also want to get out for winter exercise. 

When there's no snow nearby, some places further north with lessons and rentals are: 

  • Prospect Mountain -- gentle-to-moderate trails from the big comfortable base lodge.

  • Garnet Hill -- good flat beginner practice area by Putty Pond; and Old Faithful trail is mostly gentle -- but not so much flat-to-gentle terrain otherwise.

  • Lapland Lake -- we found the beginner practice area a bit cramped, but there are longer gentle-to-moderate trails accessible from the base lodge.

  • Mt Van Hoevenberg center (Lake Placid) -- really excellent learning terrain, but way up north beyond the Hudson Valley.

Skating places

Learning to skate requires lots of space, either a big flat field or lake, or at least some very wide gentle trails.  Two ski centers like that are:

  • Fahnestock Winter Park when the lake trails are open for skiing.

  • Prospect Mountain -- has a network of gentle-to-moderate trails which are reasonably wide, and lots of skaters like to go there to ski. Not much that's really flat. (The first section of trail from the lodge is sorta uphill and not real wide, but soon you get to the nicer network).

  • Mt Van Hoevenberg center is the best place to learn to skate, on the wide gentle Flatlander trails, but it's a long drive up to Lake Placid.

  • Bonticue area north of the Mohonk gatehouse could be worth trying as a learning place, but only one trail has a significant section which is really gentle. (Experienced skaters on the west side of the river who can handle some hilliness go to Bonticou lots).

gentle with no base lodge or rentals

  • Mohonk Preserve: Overcliff Rd trail from the Trapps parking.

  • Minnewaska Park: Lower Awosting Rd starting from the lower parking lot. Can ski south to where it starts getting steep, then turn around and come back. (But not sure how often this gets groomed any more, or how often the lower parking is open in winter -- as of January 2010 the Park was not grooming it -- so perhaps it's usually worthwhile only immediately after new snow falls).

Equipment

Beginning cross country striders and "shufflers" in the Hudson Valley south of Albany should start with skis that have a waxless pattern, since those will best handle a wide range of the conditions we usually get. 

Those who want to try skiing on icy days should consider also buying kicker skins.

Beginning ski skaters should choose skis suitable for hardpack snow conditions. 

Learning

It's best to take some lessons when you're first getting started.  Because there are several things that go into having fun skiing:  your skis and boots, the snow and grooming, the trails and terrain, your techniques, your expectations -- so it gets tricky to sort out what's working right and what's causing problems.  It really helps to have an experienced instructor right there with you to help you quickly past some of the early obstacles you may encounter.

We've put together some books and links and resources on these pages: 

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East side of the Hudson

New York City 

Westchester + Putnam counties 

Ungroomed

Rail Trails

Dutchess county 

Ungroomed

  • James Baird State Park -- golf course -- Lagrange (near Taconic State Parkway and Route 55) 
  • Dinsmore Golf Course -- Staatsburg (on Route 9) 
  • Dutchess rail trail (not sure if they plow the snow off this)

Rail Trails

Columbia county

Rail Trails

  • Harlem Valley Rail Trail - [ website ] - runs south from Copake Falls. (not sure if they plow the snow off this)

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  • Pine Ridge
     
  • Prospect Mountain VT - [ website ] - Though it's in Vermont near Bennington, it's important for lots of Hudson valley skiers because it's more likely to have enough snow, and snow that's been well-groomed. (And it is actually in the Hudson valley: the creek that flows thru the beaver pond of Prospect Mt drains ultimately to the Hudson River.)

Great variety of groomed trails, gentle + moderate + steep (just not sustained really flat trails). Also connections to backcountry trails. Very nice base lodge for a cross-country center.

Why Prospect Mt gets and holds more snow: It's in the "zone" to get hit by "lake effect" snow from the west (including moisture from the giant lakes Erie + Ontario) without being "blocked" by the Adirondack or Catskill mountains. Locally it's at the top of a valley that's well-shaped to funnel moist air from the west, and lift it to cool it and form and release snow. Then it's at higher altitude (base lodge at 2300 ft) than any other groomed-track cross-country ski center in the Hudson valley, so it stays colder to hold the snow.

driving: Woodford VT is a little east from Bennington VT

GPS approx lat/long = 42.87595,-73.08098 = N42.87595 W73.08098

From the south: I-87 Thruway north to exit 23 near Albany, I-787 north to Troy, exit for rt 7 East. Just before reaching Vermont, turn Right (to avoid going on rt 279) and continue east on rt 7, soon becomes Vermont rt 9 east into Bennington. Then continue East on rt 9 up long hill, and by the top of the climb, Prospect Mt ski center is on the right.
(Roughly 114 miles from NY Thruway exit 18 New Paltz.)

From the east side of the Hudson river in the south: Taconic State Parkway north thru Columbia county past Claverack and Chatham - (note that speed limits and enforcement patterns on the Taconic are different from the Thruway).  Exit onto rt 295, go north + east on that to rt 22. North on rt 22, then east on rt 7. Just before reaching Vermont, turn Right (to avoid going on rt 279) and continue east on rt 7, soon becomes Vermont rt 9 east into Bennington. Then continue East on rt 9 up long hill, and by the top of the climb, Prospect Mt ski center is on the right.

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West side of the Hudson 

Rockland + Orange + Bergen NJ counties 

New Paltz and the Shawangunks 

Map of area 

one of our favorites -- see details

one of our favorites -- see details

See details.  (near the Mountain House and Minnewaska) 

in Rosendale (north of New Paltz) 

Rail Trails 

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Catskills 

in Highmount (near Pine Hill on Route 28)

Belleayre's main skiing focus is on lift-served downhill skiing.

February 2011 report by Ken R: About the same as last time.

January 2006 report by KenR:  Their website says they have 9 km of cross-country trails -- which is one of the higher-altitude cross-country ski trails around the Hudson valley. I visited for cross-country skiing and tried classic striding the HH loop trail. Not very interesting design, and some rather steep hills. Some sections looked unlikely to be skatable, and they had not attempted to groom for skating anyway -- nor had they set tracks for classic striding. No equipment rentals were available.

in Tannersville (on Route 23A, east of Hunter) 

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New Jersey 

  • High Point Cross Country Ski Center -- [ website ] 

  • Ringwood State Park is supposed to have some gentle trails which are sometimes skiable, but we've never tried them. Likely not groomed.

  • Palisades Park -- We've seen signs for ski trails near the State Line Lookout along the east side of the Palisades Parkway north-bound lanes, overlooking the Hudson River [ see where on map ]. When we visited in summer, one trail looked pretty gentle and wide -- on an abandoned road. Not sure what other trails for skiing are like or if they are groomed - (this website as of 2010 says about 5 miles and not groomed). There's a large parking area, a building (the Lookout Inn) where they sell drinks + some food + books, and has toilets + tourist information (at least in the summer). More info see:

info + photos + trail map on PalisadesNJ website

GPS latitude/longitude (approx) = (40.98881,-73.90666) = N40.98881 W73.90666

State Line Lookout is near Alpine, New Jersey, about 9.5 miles north of the George Washington Bridge on the Palisades Parkway. Or about 1 mile south of the NY/NJ border -- but if coming from the north on the Palisades Parkway south-bound, have to go a bit further south, then make a U-turn to get on the Palisades Parkway north-bound lanes.

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Further North 

When the snow isn't good in the mid-Hudson and southern areas, we head further north.  Some of the closer ski centers are: 

  • Prospect Mountain VT  (in southwest Vermont near Bennington, closer than you might think) -- Higher altitude than other cross-country ski centers, at the top of a valley funneled toward catching the snowstorms from the west. Has a range of trails from gentle to hilly, big base lodge, the place to watch serious school and college racing teams. [ website ]

see above for more details + driving

  • Garnet Hill  (near Lake George and North Creek, by Gore Mt downhill ski area) -- excellent flat beginner practice area by Putty Pond, lots of interesting moderate to hilly terrain -- and if you've got solid downhill skills, often you can reserve a ride on a shuttle bus back to the lodge from the end of a long tour with lots of downhills. [ website ]

Driving: Roughly 159 miles from Thruway exit 18 New Paltz by way of I-87 Thruway and Northway to Warrensburg, NY 9 north, NY 28, Thirteenth Lake Rd.

Altitude + Weather:  Some approximate altitudes I got off a topo map: XC ski shop a bit over 1900ft, Log House a bit over 2000ft, Thirteenth Lake 1675ft, Sugar House around 1650ft, Rogers Rd around 1450ft. A location at similar altitude nearby for which it's easier to find weather reports on the web is Indian Lake NY (1790ft).

  • Lapland Lake  (north from Amsterdam exit of NY Thruway) -- lots of gentle and moderate trails, some advanced. [ website ]

Driving: Roughly 129 miles from Thruway exit 18 New Paltz by way of Thruway to Amsterdam, Rt 30 north, then local roads.

  • Notchview MA  (in western Massachusetts east of Pittsfield) -- We haven't been there yet. [ Link1 - Link2 - Link3 ]
      
  • Pineridge  (east of Troy) -- We haven't been there yet. [ website ]

Sometimes we go even farther North in search of snow: 

Sometimes the only snow in New York is West and North to the Tug Hill plateau, which catches "lake effect" storms that bring them water from Lake Ontario: 

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Other Peoples lists of Places 

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