Snow showers forecasted for Friday and Saturday may produce a few inches and that may be enough to improve some trails considerably...time will tell. Brief warm up early next week, which might just be good to settle the snow we have into a firmer base, after which colder (but not quite as cold) temperatures return with the chance for additional snow.
For this weekend the best un-groomed trail skiing will be in the Paul Smiths area. Hayes Brook and Fish Pond truck trails are in great shape, as is the side trail out to Grassy Pond at Hayes Brook. Some blowdown remains in this area but it is easily passed on skis. The section of the Jackrabbit Trail from the VIC to Jones Pond Rd. and onto Rt. 86 is skiable with caution on the downhills (and watch for wet spots near drainages).
Of course the Whiteface Toll Road remains a reliable option as well.
The rest of the Jackrabbit Trail cannot be recommended though we're sure a few die hards will break out the rock skis and go for it anyway. The recent snow will help form a base but we'll need another 6" to make skiing worthwhile. Old Mt. Road is “skiable with caution” as there are still rocks showing. Same goes for the section from McKenzie Pond Rd. to the pond. We don't recommend going over the pass quite yet. Golf courses sections of the Jackrabbit Trail are still the best option.
No skiing yet recommended in the High Peaks Wilderness, but the use of snowshoes or skis is now required in the High Peaks. On South Meadow Lane the snow is thin enough that skiers will hit the occasional bit of gravel. Past the gate it gets rougher with rocks hidden under the snow. Nevertheless, it is “passable on skis” to get to Marcy Dam, but please take the less-than-ideal conditions into account before committing to a tour here.
At the VIC in Paul Smiths, Andy Testo reports "Trails are shaping up nicely here, everything is rolled. Jenkins Mountain side of Logger's has rocks still, and a few wet spots on the far end, but everything else is beautiful for the amount of snow we've got."
At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the report is "All of the flat terrain is groomed. Tracks set on the 1 km man-made loop and in the stadium only. Packed powder conditions! Rock skis still recommended on the non-man made loops open on the flats. Snow in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, so with a little luck that could change, along with the possibility of adding some hillier trails!"
Ausable Lake Road is now skiable. Very thin at the gate under the hemlocks, but better after the first 1/4 mile. A few shorter thin areas afterwards, and still not a lot of additional snow as one approaches the lake. Remote sensing equipment in the Huntington Forest in Newcomb indicates 4-5" of snow, which is just enough to make the Newcomb Lake road skiable to Camp Santanoni.
At Dewey Mountain Recreation Center, the report is "We have received 4” of snow over the past 48 hours. We hope with a predicted drop in temperatures and a few more inches to be able to pack lower mountain trails. Ski tracks have been spotted on lower mountain trails. If you choose to ski, please use caution. We will open for day light hours as soon as conditions improve and grooming starts. Light skiing will start in the new year."
SAFETY ON THE ICE
Most low-water backcountry river and stream crossings are still open. Smaller ponds and lakes are covered with ice, but no ice should be considered safe without using extreme caution.
Finally, if you're in the Lake Placid region this weekend, check out the Annual BETA Ski Movie Fundraiser at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. BETA is hosting a premier of the film "Rogue Elements" by Teton Gravity Research. Tickets are $15 at the door (free for kids). All proceeds support BETA's trail construction and stewardship work, including our ongoing maintenance of the Jackrabbit Trail. Doors open at 6:30pm. Great raffle prizes and beer will be served by Big Slide Brewery & Public House. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO.