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5 places to cross-country ski — for free!

23
Jan
2018
Author:
Lisa Sciacca

It feels great to share!

I love staying active during our four seasons and I enjoy introducing the activities I love to others or encouraging them to engage in the activity again. I do not profess to be an instructor, but I do like to think that I am a motivator!

I recently motivated a new friend, Deb, to get out on cross-country skis again. At her request, I checked out her equipment -- it does need updating; I suggested we do a short outing and if she enjoys it she can look at updating her skis and boots, her poles were fine. Deb had skied once years ago and with my little push she got her out of her comfort zone and back onto a trail, and she loved it!

I believe those new to skiing are better starting off with short outings, if they engage in a long outing their aches and pains may prevent them from going out again. I want them to enjoy the experience and improve their skills with each outing. Some of us are more physical than others, so the distance does depend on the person's level of physical fitness, their endurance, and of course the weather!

Deb enjoying the outing!

Where to ski!

Where you choose to ski depends on your ability. In Tupper Lake, we have many great cross-country ski trails! If you are a beginner you would be wise to select an area with flat terrain. If you have been out and feel comfortable on flat terrain, why not up it a notch with a little challenge? Someplace with some small hills is a great place for you to practice different techniques such as the snowplow and herring bone. And, if you have experienced some small hills and want an even better workout you may want to try longer routes with larger hills.

Trailhead off Route 3!

One trailhead - with different levels!

Off Route 3 you will find a couple of nice trails for beginners as well as a more challenging trail. The parking area is normally plowed with room for several cars. The  trailhead is located 4.4 miles east of Shaheen's IGA, so you can pick up something from their great deli on the way! You can easily spot the DEC brown sign with yellow lettering on your left.  From this trailhead you can access Old Wawbeek Road, Route 3 to Route 30, and Deer Pond and Lead Pond.

1. Old Wawbeek Road

A great trail for beginner's - Old Wawbeek Road

Approximately 3.6 miles, this trail is basically flat with only small inclines which make it great for beginners. If you are a newbie you may only want to do a couple of miles before turning back; you can ski for about 1.70 miles on totally flat terrain. If you have been out before you may want to do the entire trail, but remember you need to ski back to your vehicle and you might be sore the next day after using all those new muscles! Snowmobiles also use this trail on occasion, so make sure to listen for them, and as an added precaution take your breaks on the side of the trail.

2. Route 3 to Route 30 trail

Some nice views on this trail! Route 3 to Route 30!

Approximately 1.7 miles long, this trail is also good for beginners as it is relatively flat with just a few inclines -- not hills. However you should note it is a bit narrow in places. It is another great spot for a newbie that has a little experience! You cross a wide wooden bridge, and if it is a nice day this is a great place to take some photos! You can access this trail from Route 30 as well. To access the trail from Route 30, take a left at the Route 30 and 3 intersection and continue another 1.8 miles, the DEC trail sign will be on your left and a sign stating Bungalow Bay (private road) will be on your right.
 

3. Deer Pond and Lead Pond

Deer Pond Trail for the advanced skiers!

This area is for the expert skier -- there are challenging hills and the trail is very narrow in many areas. Years ago it may have been rated differently, but it has not been maintained, and going up and down hills on cross-country skis in narrow areas is not easy! There are narrow plank bridges to cross in the swampy areas and you need to stay on them as some have drops on either side. You also cross a beautiful arched bridge which is a bit tricky. I have not skied into Lead Pond, but it is on my bucket list! However, you can read about my adventure on the 7.3-mile Deer Pond Loop. This trail is also accessible via Route 30, just go to the parking area near Bungalow Bay previously mentioned.

4. Trail Trombley's Clearing

View the Raquette River by skiing into Trombley's Clearing

This 3.5-mile, round-trip trail is for the more advanced skier. There are not many hills, but the first one is a doozy! Personally, I would not take a new skier on this trail as it is narrow and not well maintained. There are places you may have to take your skis off to get over downed trees or bushwhack to get around them, and that may be frustrating to a novice. The trailhead is approximately 5 miles east of Tupper Lake off State Route 3. This is a great outing; you will reach Trombley's Lean-to which is on the shore of the Raquette River, one of my favorite places to paddle, so bring a lunch and camera! If you want to get a great sandwich Tupper Lake has several places to grab take out! 

Special parking note: At the intersection of Route 3 and 30, keep to the left and bear onto State Route 30 where you will find ample parking. Walk toward the intersection and cross State Route 3 to the parking area which is down a hill. The parking area is small and not the safest to exit, so I indicated the safer place to park. 

5. Tupper Lake Groomed XC Trails

Love the tracks on this trail!

This choice offers the only groomed trails on my list, and it is free! There is even a FB page where you can check out conditions and events, such as the full moon bonfire and the Brew-ski. The trails accommodate beginners to the more advanced skiers. 

Although I don't think access from the registration booth is all that difficult, to some beginners it might be. I would suggest that newbies, sign in at the registration booth and then drive up the mountain to the red gate and start from there. Starting at the red gate will give you a vast amount of flat terrain. You can ski to the fire pit, picnic area, and then continue on the flat route to Cranberry Pond where you will have some awesome views of Mt. Morris! 

Alternately, if it is not too windy you could start behind the pro shop and ski along the golf course, but if you don't know how to snowplow you might wish to take your skis off and walk down that hill upon your return.

To access the groomed cross-country trails from Tupper Lake, head south on Route 30, on your left you will see the signage for the Tupper Lake Country Club. The Country Club will be on your left; head toward the pro shop and you will see the registration booth, be sure to register as demonstrated usage of the trails helps keep them open.

After enjoying a fun day on the trails, why not head into town and visit one of our breweries for some great food and drinks!


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