Cross-country skiing opportunities sometimes get overlooked in the Lake Placid and Au Sable Valley regions, where nearby Whiteface Mountain's breathtaking ski resort attracts the bulk of the attention.
Serious cross-country skiers, however, are well aware of the countless opportunities available: classic skiing on well-groomed trails amid spectacular winter scenery.
Four full-service cross-country ski centers are linked by the famed Jackrabbit Trail, which offers 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) of groomed skiing between Keene, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
Constructed and maintained by the not-for-profit Adirondack Ski Touring Council, the Jackrabbit Trail pulls double duty: it's a popular hiking trail during the summer. Trail maps are available at area cross-country ski centers, and for ski conditions or to receive a map by mail, call (518) 523-1365 or write to P.O. Box 843, Lake Placid, NY 12946.
In addition to the Jackrabbit Trail, cross-country skiers can tackle the same terrain as that which challenged the Winter Olympics competitors back in 1980.
The Mount Van Hoevenberg Cross Country Biathlon Center at the Olympic Sports Complex was built specifically for the Olympics and still offers some of the finest cross-country skiing in the region. Just outside of Lake Placid, off Route 73, the center offers more than 50 kilometers of groomed trails. There are rentals available as well. For more information, call (518) 523-2811 or call the ski school and ski shop at (518) 523-1176.
Another popular nordic skiing stop is the Cascade Cross Country Ski Center, just a bit farther down the road off Route 73. There are 20 kilometers of groomed trails, most of it carved through a wooded area that shields skiers from blustery winds. In addition, night skiing is available from 5 to 9 p.m. each Saturday during the season, and Cascade is locally famous for its full moon parties, food and drink, and crackling fire in the lodge. For more information, call (518) 523-9605 or go to the center's Web site at www.cascadeski.com.
Two other spots in Lake Placid - the Lake Placid Resort and the Whiteface Club - have nordic ski centers with groomed trails that are perfect for families or those new to the sport.
The Lake Placid Club Resort (523-4460) has plenty of easy terrain within the village of Lake Placid, as well as on-site rental equipment. The Whiteface Club (523-7888 or 523-2551) offers much of the same adjacent to the lake itself.
In addition to the groomed trails, serious cross-country skiers looking for the ultimate challenge can plan a backcountry trip into the High Peaks. That jaunt, however, shouldn't be taken without proper equipment and experience, and not before consulting with local experts on the terrain you'll encounter.