Skiing & winter sports in New York State

Skiing & winter sports in New York State

It is no coincidence that New York State's Lake Placid in the Adirondacks has been the only place to host the Winter Olympics twice. It is a winter sports wonderland, and even though the village only has a population of about 2,500 people, it is a powder paradise when the snow starts to fall. There is downhill skiing at five slopes, including the big mother of them all, Whiteface. The season usually kicks in around end November, and for those who don't like the downhill scene, cross country skiing and snowshoeing is also a major way of life here, with the Jack Rabbit Trail around Lake Placid being one of the most popular. At the family run and eco award winning Golden Arrow Resort, you can skate or cross country ski straight out onto the lake, and head to some of the woodland ski trails all around the frozen water. You can also skate and go dog sledding here in winter too.
It is no coincidence that New York State's Lake Placid in the Adirondacks has been the only place to host the Winter Olympics twice. It is a winter sports wonderland, and even though the village only has a population of about 2,500 people, it is a powder paradise when the snow starts to fall. There is downhill skiing at five slopes, including the big mother of them all, Whiteface. The season usually kicks in around end November, and for those who don't like the downhill scene, cross country skiing and snowshoeing is also a major way of life here, with the Jack Rabbit Trail around Lake Placid being one of the most popular. At the family run and eco award winning Golden Arrow Resort, you can skate or cross country ski straight out onto the lake, and head to some of the woodland ski trails all around the frozen water. You can also skate and go dog sledding here in winter too.

There are actually over fifty ski resorts in New York State and the website I Ski NY is great resource for details of resorts, ski conditions, ski deals and trail maps. For example, the slopes of Hunter and Plattekill Mountain are the place to be seen in the Catskills when the snow starts to fall. These are the closest spot for winter sports if you are staying in New York City, and a quick and easy escape into snow filled days, and log fire filled nights. There are also several winter festivals here, such as Belleayre's Winter Festival, Ski Fest at Windham, and the Hanford Mills Ice Harvest where you can enjoy snow tubing, ice fishing, skating and a wide variety of local produce, for which The Catskills are famous.

In the Hudson Valley, the peaks of Mount Peter, Thunder Ridge and Tuxedo Ridge are all popular for downhill and the trails of Minnewaska State Park are cleared for cross country skiers. There are also trails around the nearby resort of Mohonk Mountain House, although you cannot use the hotel building facilities unless you are a resident, and pay for a daily use of the trails. The State trails in Minnewaska are free. Mohonk Mountain House is stunning though, and has all the luxuries of a heated swimming pool and even fires in the bedrooms to warm you up after a day in the snow or ice skating on their pavillion.

Whiteface and Catskills, New York State. Photos by Darren McGee
The Finger Lakes region also caters for winter sports fans, with Bristol Mountain, Greek Peak and Labrador Mountain the main hubs for downhill, snowboarding, cross country and snowmobiling. If you don't want the resort atmosphere, you can hit most of the hiking trails mentioned above for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Many of the rail trails are ideal for cross country skiing, and you can find out about all of these at the Rails to Trails Conservancy website. Also in the Finger Lakes region, the magnificent Letchworth State Park is open for winter walking, and often has guided walks, cross country skiing and snowshoeing on its schedule of events. Not forgetting the chance to see one of their three waterfalls frozen in time.

In fact, Ice climbing is also a growing sport in New York, as experts donned with crampons and spikes go in search icy cliffs and frozen waterfalls. This is popular in the Adirondacks, but also in the Catskill Mountains, such as The Notch, The Playground, Hellhole and Kaaterskill Falls to take on. There is snow to be had within a quick train journey of the New York City, or further afield for the more adventurous, so if you are heading to Manhattan for Christmas or January sales shopping, leave room for snowshoes in your bag too, and hit the slopes as well as the stores.

The US's National Ski Areas Association has an environmental charter that resorts sign up to, as well as an awards scheme for best practice all of which are part of their Sustainable Slopes Program. Resorts in New York state which have signed up to the charter are, Bristol Mountain Winter Resort and Greek Peak in The Finger lakes, Gore Mountain, Whiteface and Titus Mountain in the Adirondacks, Vacation Valley Resort in Ellicotville and Swain Resort in the Chautauqua Allegany region, Hunter Mountain, Plattekill, Windham Mountain and Belleayre in the Catskills.

Find more information on outdoor activities in New York State here: hiking and walking, cycling and water sports
Responsible Travel would like to thank the New York State Tourist Board for their sponsorship of this guide
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