When the temperature drops and snow covers the landscape, spending time outside might seem dreadful. But with some preparation, I promise it’s a lot of fun! Yes, the warmer months are delightful, but winter doesn’t have to be frightful. My recommendation: strap on some snowshoes and go explore! The woods are quiet and peaceful, and those pesky leaves from summer trees aren’t blocking views. Plus, snowshoeing is great exercise.
Unsure where to start? Here’s how you get started …
Step 1: Assemble the gear
If you’re snowshoeing or spending time outdoors when it’s cold, you definitely want to make sure you are prepared for the weather. That means wearing appropriate clothing (non-cotton, that is) and bringing along extra layers. In addition to my snowshoes and trekking poles, when I go on a snowshoe hike I always have warm layers packed in my backpack and extra socks! You also want to make sure you have a map and compass, a headlamp and extra batteries, first-aid supplies, lots of water, high protein food snacks and sun protection (snow blindness is a real thing!).
Step 2: Pick your trail
We’re in the Adirondacks so there are a lot of trail options! With choices ranging from beginner to expert, there is absolutely something for every age and ability. Some good places to start are:
The Wild Center
With your paid admission to The Wild Center, you also get access to the property's awesome trail system and complimentary snowshoes! If you’re new to the sport, this is a great opportunity to stretch your legs.
The tall, thick canopy at Fernow Forest makes for a great family-friendly snowshoeing location that isn’t far from town. Chances are you’ll see wildlife on this trail, or at least the tracks of the many squirrels that live nearby. Fernow Forest commemorates some of the earliest forest management in the United States, and there are informational interpretive stops along the 1-mile route.
James C. Frenette Sr. Recreational Trails
When it’s not winter, this area is better known as a golf course, but come winter, it transforms into a cross-country ski and snowshoe paradise. The groomed James C. Frenette Sr. Recreational Trails offer an ever-growing network of loops that appeal to everyone. If snowshoeing isn’t your thing, you can cross-country ski here, or even go sledding! You and your family might find it hard to leave when the sun goes down. Thankfully you don’t have to! Some trails are lit for night skiing and ‘shoeing.
Paul Smith’s VIC
If you’ve been to the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in summer, you know it’s amazing. In winter, it’s even more amazing! For a small fee, you can snowshoe and/or cross-country ski on a sizable network of trails that take you through a variety of habitats. The VIC has rental skis and snowshoes available for a fee as well.
It’s time to head uphill! If you’re ready for a small mountain, it doesn’t get much better than Panther. At just over half a mile one-way, it’s not a long hike, but there is elevation gain that can get steep. You might get your calves burning on this beginner mountain, but there are incredible views of some High Peaks and Panther Pond.
The Tupper Lake Hiking Triad is a series of three mountains (that don’t need to be done in any particular order). None of them are overly challenging, but they all are longer than everything else on this list and have medium elevation gain. You don’t have to snowshoe all three mountains in one day. Although, when you do complete the three, you can register your snowshoe hikes and receive a patch!
Step 3: Get out there!
Once you have the gear and have a trail selected, it’s time to get out there and snowshoe! Remember, if you love the Adirondacks and spend time here in any season, practice Leave No Trace ethics to help ensure that the forests, waterways, and communities of the Adirondacks remain beautiful and unique for generations to come. In winter, it is especially important to come prepared and practice ways to Love Your ADK; the best way to avoid emergencies is to properly plan and prepare for your trip.
Tupper Lake is ready and waiting for your next winter adventure, whether you are preparing to snowshoe, cross-country ski, snowmobile, or ice fish. Warm hotel rooms, restaurants with delicious comfort foods, and plenty of outdoor activities will keep you busy all season long. And when you're ready to come inside, there are plenty of ways to warm up.