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Skiing and Snowshoeing

cross-country skiing

Don't let snow keep you off New York State's thousands of trails this winter. Grab a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes and enjoy your favorite trails all winter long. The solitude and all engulfing silence of the wilderness in winter await. Many trails are actually easier to traverse in winter as the rocks, roots, and mud are covered over with nothing but smooth, deep snow. You can go to areas otherwise not accessible in summer due to wet conditions and take short cuts across frozen lakes. You may be surprised that a day of exercise and exploring nature in winter could be so much fun!

Before you go, properly prepare for outdoor winter conditions

Watch a clip about winter hiking safety tips and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.
snoeshowers near a lake

Where to Go

All trails on DEC lands are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Here is a sample of great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities. To explore other DEC lands across the state, visit our places to go page.

Lower Hudson Valley - Region 3

Capital Region/ Northern Catskills - Region 4

Eastern Adirondacks/ Lake Champlain - Region 5

Jacket Rabbit Trail (leaves DEC website) - This unique cross-country ski trail connects the communities of Saranac Lake and Keene through a series of backcountry trails and groomed areas, allowing an end to end ski experience of 25 miles.

Western Adirondacks/ Upper Mohawk Valley/ Eastern Lake Ontario - Region 6

cross-country skiiers

On the eastern shore of Lake Ontario lies the Tug Hill Plateau that boasts the heaviest snow fall east of The Rockies. DEC ski trails include:

Central New York - Region 7

Rochester/ Western Finger Lakes - Region 8

Western New York - Region 9

kids snoe shoeing

Protect Yourself

Winter weather conditions can change quickly and to the extreme. The colder temperatures provide you with a smaller margin for error should something go awry. Proper planning and communicating your trip itinerary to others is a must. Dress in layers of moisture wicking, quick drying fabrics to stay warm and most importantly, dry. The lower air humidity, extra efforts, and colder weather all conspire to take moisture out of your body quickly. You may not even realize the extent of your perspiration and drinking plenty of water and maintaining your hydration levels is critical. Dehydration and hypothermia go hand in hand and eating and drinking more than you think you need is a good practice to follow. And of course, for any backcountry adventures, you should have proper equipment and always be prepared to spend the night in the woods. More information on outdoor safety in the winter.

Skiing Etiquette

Ski touring, like any other sport, is much more enjoyable for everyone if all participants follow certain rules of etiquette.

Trail Safety

  1. Stay on the trails. Trails are laid out for skiers' safety and convenience. Leaving the trail may cause skiers to encounter unknown terrain hazards and become lost.
  2. Passing on the flat. A faster skier should indicate their desire to pass by calling "track." The slower skier should yield by stepping out of the track to the right, where possible.
  3. Passing on a hill. Try not to pass on a downhill. Save it for the flat where the slower skier can maneuver more easily.
  4. Meeting on a hill. The skier moving downhill has the right-of-way, since they are moving faster and may have less control. Do not descend a hill until the trail is clear.
  5. Skiing in the correct direction. If the trail is one-way, be sure to ski in the proper direction. If a trail has two sets of tracks, ski the set of tracks on the right-hand side.
  6. Obstructing the trail. Move off the trail as quickly as possible after a fall. This will prevent possible collisions and allow other skiers to pass. Fill in sitzmarks before proceeding.
  7. Do not ski alone. Long tours, especially, should not be tempted alone. Hypothermia is a very real and serious hazard when the temperature is below 15°F.

Respect for Trail Conditions

  1. Fill in sitzmarks. A hole in a downhill track can be hazardous to other skiers. Once these freeze, they are difficult to fill in.
  2. Do not walk in tracks. This ruins skiing for everyone. If necessary, walk to the side of the trail.
  3. Leave dogs at home. Dogs leave pawmarks and feces on the trail which ruins a good track. Furthermore, dogs can be a hazard by getting in the way of other skiers and chasing wildlife.

Additional Information

Important safety tips and guidelines for all outdoor recreational activities.

Avalanches in the Adirondacks, when, where and how they form and how to be prepared for and avoid them

Adirondack Trail Information

Great Winter Hikes