The state Department of Environmental Conservation has opened a new cross-country-ski trail on former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that takes you along the Goodnow and Hudson rivers in the town of Newcomb.
I skied the 4.2-mile loop trail on Wednesday afternoon with my neighbor, Tim Peartree, and we had a blast.
“I liked the variety, the ups and downs, the scenery. It’s a terrific trail,” Tim said after our trip.
The ski trip is possible thanks to the state’s purchase of lands in the Essex Chain Lakes region from the Nature Conservancy a few years ago. The conservancy had purchased the land from Finch, Pruyn & Company in 2007.
The trail begins off the Goodnow Flow Road just before the bridge over the Goodnow River. DEC has constructed a parking lot that accommodates three or four cars.
When Tim and I arrived at the trail register, we encountered Corrie O’Dea, a DEC forester who helped design the trail. She told us the route follows old logging routes and ATV trails. DEC and the Student Conservation Association cut the brush that grown up along the route and cleared fallen trees.
From the register, Tim and I skied along a flat logging road for about a half-mile to a split in the trail. Along the way we caught occasional glimpses through the forest of the Goodnow about a hundred feet below us.
I had planned to do the loop clockwise, but DEC recommends people ski it counterclockwise. It’s supposed to be easier. And so we bore right at the split.
We skied slightly downhill past a beaver meadow on the right, then ascended a bit to a height of land. From here, the trail dropped about a hundred feet. Again, we could see the Goodnow through the trees, but that was it. If you want to see the river up close, you’ll have to leave the trail.
After about two miles, we saw the frozen Hudson River on our right. We skied through the brush and then downriver for a quarter-mile to the mouth of the Goodnow. The views were superb, but you have to be careful: the ice might be thin on the rivers. We stayed close to shore, where the ice seemed solid.
Once back on the trail, we enjoyed a number of small ups and downs, with frequent views of the Hudson filtered through the trees. At 2.75 miles, the trail pulls away from the river and begins to climb. Just before this, we got off trail again to take in a spectacular vista of a wide still-water in the river.
The trail climbs 0.15 miles to a logging road, then turns left. We continued climbing easily. A tenth of a mile beyond the turn, we came to a pull-off and paused to take in the landscape: through the hardwoods we could still see the Hudson. A number of peaks rose on the other side of the river, including Polaris Mountain and Vanderwhacker Mountain. This is one of the most scenic spots along the trail.
A quarter-mile past the pull-off, the trail started to level. We skied on the flats for a half-mile (excepting a short downhill) to a junction with another old logging road. We bore left here and enjoyed a mellow descent to the start of the loop. From there, we skied back to the register and out to the parking area.
It’s a fun trail, and I’ll write more about it for the next issue of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine. For now, I’ll just add that the experience would be enhanced if DEC built short side trails to allow skiers close-up views of the Goodnow and Hudson. The views along the Hudson were the scenic highlights of our day, but we had to bushwhack to enjoy them.
Photos by Phil Brown: Tim Peartree at the mouth of the Goodnow River. DEC Forester Corrie O’Dea at the register. Map of Upper Hudson Ski Loop provided by DEC.