The Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA) invites ski enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels to participate in the first-ever Jackrabbit Rally to celebrate ski touring, the 35th anniversary of the popular Jackrabbit Trail and founding of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, which now operates as BETA. Founded in 1986, the Jackrabbit Ski Trail traverses a variety of terrain through Keene, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Paul Smiths for a total of 42 miles.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has finalized the Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Sentinel Range Wilderness.
The Sentinel Range Wilderness is comprised of 23,874 acres of Forest Preserve lands in the towns of Keene, Jay, Wilmington, and North Elba, Essex County. The lands consist primarily of rugged, mountainous forest land with relatively few ponds and wetlands. Mountain views are one of the Wilderness Area’s main attractions, although a portion of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail also runs through the wilderness. The area borders the north side of Route 73 through Cascade Pass and includes a number of popular climbing areas. » Continue Reading.
So this is the shoulder season. The leaves are gone. It’s chilly outside, wet and gray. You don’t feel like hiking. You’re looking forward to skiing, but you don’t want to sit inside until the snow comes.
It’s a great time for mountain biking. You don’t need views, fall colors, or sunshine to enjoy riding on a well-designed trail through the woods. As for that chill in the air, you’ll warm up soon enough.
That was my thinking when I drove to Wilmington last weekend to check out some new trails off Hardy Road.
The nonprofit Barkeater Trails Alliance maintains a network of mountain-bike trails on both sides of Hardy Road, some easy, some not so. I have ridden there more than once. After Keith McKeever, a BETA volunteer, told me the group recently created two new trails, both for beginners, I drove over as soon as I had a free day.
An all day event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council (ASTC) and the establishment of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail will take place on November 12, 2016 at the Cascade XC Ski Center in Lake Placid.
Early in the day, Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA) will lead a hiking tour of the Jackrabbit Trail and a new ski and bike trail network under development on the site of the old Scott’s Cobble Ski Area in North Elba, followed by a gathering at Cascade XC Ski Center for the BETA annual meeting and a party with live music, food and drink, a bonfire, and surely a bit of story telling by ASTC and Jackrabbit Trail veterans. » Continue Reading.
The state attorney general is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a long-running feud over the status of Old Mountain Road in the towns of North Elba and Keene.
The state is also seeking to transfer the case from State Supreme Court in Essex County to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Albany.
The Old Mountain Road is a dirt thoroughfare, often flooded by beavers, that runs through the Sentinel Range Wilderness. It is part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail, which stretches from Keene to Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.
On New Year’s Day we didn’t have enough snow to ski most backcountry trails, but we decided to give the Jackrabbit Trail a shot, starting at Whiteface Inn Road in Lake Placid and ascending to the pass between Haystack and McKenzie mountains.
I have skied this section of the Jackrabbit often and had an idea of what we’d find: bare patches on the half-mile hill at the start but decent snow above. With a few inches of fresh powder over a thin but solid base, the trail should be skiable, I thought. We would just need to steer clear of the bare spots.
That’s pretty much what we encountered. What I hadn’t counted on though, was that the trail would have been thoroughly trashed by bare-booters – that is, hikers without snowshoes.
Thirteen years after he was first ticketed for driving a snowmobile on Old Mountain Road, Jim McCulley is still fighting the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
In his latest legal action, McCulley claims DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens violated his civil rights when Martens overturned earlier decisions in the case and ruled that Old Mountain Road is part of the Forest Preserve, not a town road.
“It’s like beating your head against the wall, over and over. Why do they keep coming back?” said Lake Placid attorney Matt Norfolk, who represents McCulley.
In one of his last acts as the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, Joe Martens overturned a predecessor’s finding that part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail was still a town road and therefore could be open to snowmobiles, ATVs, and other vehicles.
Martens, who left his post last week, wrote in a July 22 decision that the road had long been abandoned and so the state had the power to close it to vehicular use. The road in question — known as the Old Mountain Road — cuts through the Sentinel Range Wilderness between Keene and North Elba.
After nearly thirty years in the post, Tony Goodwin is resigning as executive director of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, the organization that created and still maintains the Jackrabbit Ski Trail, a popular backcountry route that connects Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and Keene.
“I am actually of retirement age. I had been thinking that when someone with the right skill set comes along that it would be time to bow out,” said Goodwin, who lives in Keene. » Continue Reading.
They were predicting we’d get more than six inches, perhaps a lot more. They were wrong. We got only two or three, which prettified the woods, but it wasn’t enough to turn the season around for backcountry skiers.
There is still hope: the National Weather Services predicts Saranac Lake, where the Explorer office is located, could get three to five more inches over the next few days. Again, not enough to turn the season around, but we’ll take it. And who knows? Maybe this time we’ll get more than predicted. » Continue Reading.
Oseetah Marsh just outside Saranac Lake is the destination of one of my regular lunch-hour ski trips. It’s short, easy, and scenic, with views of the McKenzie Range, the Sawtooth Range, and nearby Scarface Mountain.
Yesterday I did the trip for the first time this winter. Why did I wait so long? To get to the marsh, I follow a snowmobile trail through a beautiful pine forest. Until this afternoon, every time I reached the edge of the marsh I found a small pool of black water, bordered by very thin ice. » Continue Reading.
Since the big storm last week, I’ve been skiing a lot in the backcountry. Generally, I found the conditions very good, but skiers need to be mindful that we had little or no base before the snowfall. You may encounter exposed boulders on trails. If you’re skiing off trail, you must be wary of logs and rocks lurking within the powder.
On New Year’s Day, I skied from Adirondak Loj to Lake Colden. At the outset, I wondered if the cover would be adequate on the trail from the Loj to Marcy Dam, a section with a lot of large boulders. Although I did encounter some exposed rocks, they were easily avoided. » Continue Reading.
We plan just a jaunt to stretch our legs on the Lake Clear section of the Jackrabbit Trail. We are only going a small part of the nine-mile trail that starts near the Lake Clear junction and ends at the Paul Smith College Visitor’s Interpretive Center (VIC).
We struggle over the steep snow banks that line Route 30, throwing our snowshoes and skis ahead of us. With the recent dumping of snow we have to knock our feet into the snow to make steps up the embankment. We sit on the edge of the snow bank and quickly strap on our skis. When we reach the Jackrabbit trailhead sign my son notes that we are standing about four feet above the ground. Cars rush past but the tree cover soon muffles the sound. Even on skis we sink into the fresh snow. There are more popular sections to the 33-mile trail but this one fits our needs.
The conditions are perfect. We follow the corridor of telephone poles. Snowmobile and ski tracks are on either side of us. We skirt around the poles trying to avoid the heavy ice that hangs from the lines above.
The Jackrabbit Trail was modeled after the European tradition of cross-country ski journeying. In certain European countries towns are linked with trails allowing skiers to travel smoothly between villages, eating and sleeping along the way.
I’m sure there are people that have completed the whole Jack Rabbit trail in day. We will not be one of them. For families the Jack Rabbit Trail is a perfect opportunity to get out on skis and enjoy the Adirondack backcountry.
Named in memory of Herman (Jackrabbit) Johannsen, the Jackrabbit Trail is constructed and maintained by the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. The 33-mile, multi-sectioned cross-country ski trail connects the towns of Paul Smiths, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Keene. The Lake Clear section is accessed about a half mile north on Route 30 from the Route 30/186 junction. There is a small sign across from the old Lake Clear Elementary School.
For more information on the Jackrabbit Trail please contact the Adirondack Ski Touring Council at 518-523-1365.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to editor Melissa Hart.
To advertise on the Adirondack Almanack, or to receive information on rates and design, please click here.
Recent Almanack Comments