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From short jaunts to long-distance ski tours 

Cross-country skiing in the Adirondack Hub may not involve groomed trails, but what it lacks in tracks, it makes up for in its range of backcountry options. From truly beginner options to engaging expert-only terrain, there’s an adventure to be had for anyone. Whether you're clicking into those fresh NNN or three-pin bindings for the very first time, or are on day 75 of your skiing season, you’ll find a trip below that is perfect for you.

A few people ski and snowshoe on a wide trail

Camp Santanoni - Beginner

While the Adirondack Hub doesn’t have groomed trails, the road that leads back to Camp Santanoni in Newcomb is almost always packed down, making for an xc ski of any length you desire! The terrain is gentle, the width of the trail is big enough for two cars to pass each other, and there are usually other people gliding to the historic Great Camp. 

Camp Santanoni hosts the popular Winter Weekends, where many of the historic buildings are opened up for viewing, hot chocolate is served, and rentals are available. Keep in mind that if you ski from the parking area to the Camp and back, the round-trip distance is 10 miles with a bit over 700 feet of elevation gain. If this seems like a bit much for you, then just ski as far down the road as you are comfortable with. There are fun stretches of gentle downhill on the way back that you’ll enjoy, and the scenic farmhouse buildings towards the beginning can be a good beginner destination. 

A couple people ski through the woods

Rankin Pond - Beginner 

If you’re looking for something shorter than Camp Santanoni, yet you’re still new to skiing in the backcountry, consider Rankin Pond! Even if this 0.6-mile round-trip xc ski is considered “easy”, you should still have some experience on groomed trails before getting out in the backcountry.

The trail starts descending nearly right away, before leveling off, then making a final short descent to the shores of Rankin Pond. If the ice is safe, you could carefully make your way onto the pond and explore the different views of Crusher Hill to your east and Rankin Mountain to your north.

A close-up of someone's skis

Crane Pond - Beginner 

Skiing to Crane Pond is a combination of the two above xc ski trips. It has that backcountry feel of Rankin Pond while having a wide road to ski on like Camp Santanoni. It’s a 4-mile, 350-foot elevation gain round-trip adventure that provides the perfect introduction to the extensive trail system of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. Right after a scenic, icy waterfall, you continue left at a junction at around 0.8 miles in. At 1.5 miles you have two options, continue on the road where in the summer season it is typically flooded, or take a left around it through the trees on a marked section of trail. Before reaching the shore of Crane Pond, some vistas are looking towards the lofty Pharaoh Mountain across Alder Pond.

When you reach the shoreline at 2 miles, consider a short jaunt onto the frozen pond if conditions are ideal.

A ski track through the woods

Stony Pond - Intermediate

A rather big step up from the aforementioned adventures, the Stony Pond trail traverses hilly terrain for 2 miles (one-way) to the shore of the trail’s namesake. Along this designated snowmobile trail (which rarely sees a snowmobile), you’ll pass by a side trail for Twentyninth Pond (a nice side trip), a behemoth of a beaver dam, a lean-to, and a scenic pond nestled among some craggy, Adirondack hills. 

Two people ski through the woods on a narrow trail

Hoffman Notch - Advanced

There’s no way around it, the trip through Hoffman Notch requires fantastic snowfall, cold conditions for safe water-crossings, and loads of cross-country skiing experience. To avoid a 14-mile round-trip distance, it takes some planning. This route is best thru-skied, parking a car at the northern trailhead on Blue Ridge Road, and starting at the southern trailhead on Loch Muller Road. At times, the road isn’t plowed to the trailhead, so you may have to park a bit up the road and ski down to it.

From the start, the trail parallels and crosses the North Branch of Trout Brook numerous times, a difficult navigational task for inexperienced skiers. Following tons of yellow trail markers, a stunningly large marsh opens up views of Hoffman Mountain. Shortly after the marsh, aptly named Big Marsh, you start descending through the Notch (between Washburn Ridge and Hornet Cobbles). This section is all downhill, following and crossing Hoffman Notch Brook several times. The trees here are more open than the previous few miles, providing views of the rocky cliffs and spruce-covered mountains surrounding you. After 7 miles, you reach the car you parked at the northern terminus! 

Two people talk at the back of a car with xc ski gear

Do any of these skis seem fitting for you? If so, plan a day out of it! The Adirondack Hub is a great base camp for adventures, with cozy places to stay, tons of dining options, and many more options for cross-country skiing than just the ones above.

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