Friday, December 4, 2020

Ski centers gear up for a different kind of season

Some years ski season is in full swing by late November. That isn’t the case this year, but that hasn’t kept me from considering where I’ll be headed during the upcoming ski season.  And I’m wondering where everyone else will be headed.

One thing I know is I’ll try to be in the backcountry as much as possible this year, something that is the norm for me, but even more so this winter because of the pandemic.

Skiing at alpine and Nordic centers seems like it will be possible – at least right now. But it will more complicated. (Click here for an overview of area ski centers and their re-opening plans.)

Access to ski lodges will be restricted or prohibited at centers around the region. Many services will be provided in a new way. For instance, online ticket sales and season passes will be encouraged now more than ever at many venues.

But we had this type of uncertainly in the spring before the summer tourist season and many outdoor businesses wound up booming. Skiing actually seems like one activity that could potentially be safe if people take proper precautions. People will be wearing masks, alpine skiers wear goggles, and everyone should have gloves on.  Social distancing is a natural part of the sport. The main times people congregate is when they are taking breaks in the lodge or getting ready to go up the mountain again on a lifts.

So that begs the question. Will skiing take off the way biking and hiking took off this year? Alpine skiing is already a popular activity with Adirondack visitors, but will more people be looking to ski at Nordic centers? Will the Mount Van Hoevenberg Nordic trails be packed all winter like the hiking trailheads in the region were? What about the Jackrabbit ski trail?

What about snowshoeing? Will those summer hikers be buying snowshoes and heading to the High Peaks, even though temps and conditions are more challenging in the winter?

Honestly, I don’t know what to expect, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both groomed and natural trails were packed again this winter. I believe people will once again be looking to get outside. I know I will be.

Photo: Mount Van Hoevenberg’s groomed trails will open, but its child care won’t, and indoor storage space will be limited. Photo by Mike Lynch

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Mike’s weekly “Backcountry Journal” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

Related Stories

Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at

One Response

  1. Vanessa says:

    Completely arbitrary prediction: by February, the results of vaccinations and people with “COVID fatigue” will stuff all available winter spots venues. Not now, as we’re in a surge, and not January as that will have bad headlines from the holiday surge, but by Feb? For sure.

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox