Time is right for late-winter trail skiing

Backcountry ski trails should be in good shape throughout the Adirondacks after this most recent snowfall.

That hasn’t been the case for most of the season, although February did bring a few storms that provided good cover in some areas, including some High Peaks trails.

Last Thursday, I headed out to Avalanche Lake via the ski trail from the Adirondak Loj not sure what to expect. But I found conditions to be pretty good, and that was prior to this most recent storm.

I took the old Marcy Dam trail from the Adirondak Loj parking lot. It had plenty of cover, as did the rest of the trails. The only place that had any exposed rocks was on the last mile of the hiking trail toward Marcy Dam. Hopefully, those spots are now covered up. Either way, the obstacles were easy enough to ski around.

Up on the actual ski trail in Avalanche Pass, there was plenty of snow. A new layer had just fallen in the days prior to my visit.

According to Bobby Clark of the High Peaks Information Center, the Avalanche Pass Ski Trail and Wright Peak Ski Trail have drawn a good amount of attention from skiers. Both tend to do a good job of holding snow and should be in prime shape now. They are best with lots of fresh powder. I would recommend getting to them early in the morning if you want to test them out. They’ll likely be crowded during the middle of the day when the weather warms up.

Phil Brown, editor of the Adirondack Explorer, skied Mount Marcy recently. He reported that conditions were very good below tree line but that some form of foot traction would be needed for the last stretch to the summit. The peak conditions may have changed since, unless the snow gets blow off.

For a good part of the winter, the slides haven’t held much snow. In February, several skiers noticed avalanche conditions on them after the big snowfalls. They reported a weak layer toward the bottom of the snowpack on some north- and east-facing slopes. So anyone who hits the slides soon should remain diligent in analyzing the conditions to ensure they are as safe as possible. Check in with Adirondack Backcountry Skiing’s website at adkbcski.com. Backcountry skiers will sometimes post condition reports there. That information could serve as a good starting point before heading out.

I would think one of the best places for an intermediate ski right now would be the Raquette Falls ski from Coreys Road. This ski is about 9 miles round trip from the parking lot to the falls. Often, the crowds there aren’t as bad as other places such as the High Peaks trails.

Most of the skiing is pretty moderate, although the last third on the way out has some relatively steep descents. They’re best after some fresh snow has fallen. When its icy, they can be a bit treacherous.

The frozen lower falls is a nice destination this time of the year. It makes for a good spot for having a lunch and getting re-energized before taking the trip back to the parking lot. When heading there, the last few hundred yards are often a bit tricky. You’ll likely have to take off your skis here as you walk along the top of a steep bank that overlooks the river.

Another good trip that should be open now is the ski from Lake Placid’s Whiteface Inn Road to McKenzie Pond Road near Saranac Lake on the Jackrabbit Trail. A good way to do this roughly 5-mile trip is to drop a car on Saranac Lake side and then the start the ski from the Whiteface Inn Road. That way you get the long descent from the McKenzie Pass. Otherwise, it’s a long uphill on the way to Placid.

Whatever you do this weekend, make sure you try to get out and enjoy the snow. This may be the last blast of the season, or one of them at least, so have some fun.