Winona State Forest Ski Trails
Region 6 Natural Resource Highlight
When New Yorkers think of snow, they think of Tug Hill. This plateau, east of Lake Ontario, receives over 300 inches per year, more than any area east of the Rockies. About thirty years ago, cross country skiers discovered this wooded, winter wonderland, about 50 miles north of Syracuse. Other users travel into the area in spring, summer and fall, but it is the skier who has made the biggest recreational impact.
Over twenty years ago the Tug Hill Tourathon was formed and with it many new trails were developed. The organizers have held their well known 50K citizens race ever since. The race volunteers seem to have as much fun as the racers. A common sight is that of a racer or spectator with long icicles or snow on each side of their smiling faces.
This managed forest of about 10,000 acres, including some county lands, was purchased in the 1930s and 1940s. During those decades the Civilian Conservation Corps planted pine seedlings on much of the old farm acreage. The trails, that are used by skiers of all skill levels, wind their way through this quiet wilderness with almost daily winter snowfall and pass by 80 foot pine trees. The pine plantations have a certain mystique, but trails pass through many grand hardwoods also.
A lucky skier may arrive there when the trails have been freshly groomed. On the coldest days you hear the sap pop in the hardwoods. Numerous wildlife species roam through the forests and it is fun to guess from the tracks what animals made them and what they may have been up to.
Winona Forest is the name the state gives this jewel. Everyone should come and experience this area - whether if only by car, or better yet, try a short hike on snowshoes, or strap on a pair of cross country skis for an exhilarating experience.