Cross Country Skiing in Upstate

Cross country skiing

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

In general, many places permit cross-country skiing such as public parks; however, Upstate New York features numerous places particularly suited to the activity, both in topography and for the scenery.

Green Lakes State Park (, Fayetteville) isn’t just a beach destination. The park also offers 15 miles of marked cross-country ski trails on the gently rolling hills between the lakes.

Beaver Lake Nature Center (, Baldwinsville) is a wetland habitat for numerous creatures cross-country skiers can view from its eight miles of groomed trails. All are rated easy but one, the moderate 1.5-mile Three Meadows Trail. Also check out the displays inside the Nature Center.

The 14.3 miles of trails at Bear Swamp State Forest (, Sempronius, Cayuga County) are multiple use for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Since the park includes a large wetland and creek, snowshoers should see a good variety of birds and other wildlife.

At Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center (, Benson) you can enjoy Adirondack views on 38 kilometers of tended trails and 12 non-groomed trails. Most are one-way trails for easy cross-country skiing. Lapland Lake also boasts a gift shop and equipment rental, along with skiing lessons and clinics.

Mt. Van Hoevenberg (, Lake Placid) grooms 50 trails through Adirondack forests with views of the High Peaks. Cross-country skiers can rent equipment and take lessons. S’mores and hot chocolate by the fire in Josie’s Cabin are included in the equipment rental package.

Whiteface Club & Resort (, Lake Placid) is also in Lake Placid. The Resort provides 18 kilometers of maintained trails, along with the Jackrabbit Trail: 35 miles of backcountry tails from the Adirondack Visitors Center at Paul Smith’s College, through Saranac Lake, Lake Placid to Keene Valley. Equipment rental and lessons are available.

Cascade XC-Ski (, Lake Placid) provides 20 kilometers of groomed trails, along with rental equipment, lessons and a full-service lodge, bar and restaurant. Plan a cross-country ski getaway in the middle of New York’s winter playground.

Garnet Hill Outdoor Center (, North River) provides 55 kilometers of trails that are groomed daily to ensure excellent cross-country skiing. Cross-country purists can’t go wrong. The facility also rents equipment and offers lessons.

Cunningham’s Ski Barn (, North Creek) provides 25 kilometers of woodland trails for cross-country skiers with views of the Hudson River. Skiers can also take guided tours – perfect for beginners or visitors to the area.

Dewey Mountain Recreation Center (, Saranac Lake) offers a total of 13 kilometers of groomed and backcountry trails with a variety of difficulty levels. Equipment rental is available by the full day or half day.

Take in the scenic vistas of Poesten Creek while cross-country skiing at Pineridge XC-Ski (, Poestenkill) with its 33 groomed trails that wind through the forest. The facility also offers equipment sales and rental, lessons and a lodge.

In the Catskills, visit Mountain Trails Cross Country Ski Center (, Tannersville) In addition to its 35 forest trails, the Center provides a snack bar, warming hut, rentals and lessons.

• Near Cortland, Greek Peak (, Virgil), cross-country skiers can get their fill on 20 kilometers of groomed trails. Warming hut, lessons and rental equipment are also available.

• Byrncliff Resort (, Varysburg) offers 20 kilometers of groomed trails, including 8 kilometers of lit trails for night skiing. Lessons and equipment rentals are available. The facility also features lodging and dining onsite. Buffalo Spree Magazine voted Byrncliff “Best Cross-Country Skiing 2008” so if you’re in western New York, it’s worth a visit.

To see a map of state-owned lands where cross-country skiing and other activities are permitted, visit As with many winter activities, cross-country skiing is weather dependent, so call in advance. Many state parks offer free or low-cost entry. Ski centers charge by the hour or day. Check their websites for pricing and policies.