If you are interested in taking the plunge into winter hiking, or want to share your passion for winter recreation with your kids or friends who are just beginning, Long Lake is the perfect hub. With a variety of trails and mountains within a 20 minute drive, from toddler up to grandparents, and novice to expert, there is something for everyone and all experience levels.
Long Lake also offers multiple year-round lodging and dining options, stores to stock up on hats, gloves, and gear, or last minute things you may have forgotten.
These trails are listed from easier to harder, although all of them shouldn’t be a problem for the average person to complete.
Catlin Bay, Long Lake NY (Easy/Beginner)
2.2 mile round trip from parking lot, located off Tarbell Hill Rd.
This is a great hike for the novice snowshoer looking to get some experience winter hiking. The trail is an easy 1.1 mile rolling trail to Catlin Bay on Long Lake, with some outstanding views of the lake, along with plenty of spots for a picnic, including some DEC maintained camp sites and a lean-to. The trail follows the Northville-Lake Placid trail both out and back, and should be fairly well traveled, and is well marked. On a scale of 1-5 (1 being easiest) this hike should be about a 1 or 2.
Newcomb Visitors Interpretive Center (VIC) (Easy)
5922 State Route 28N, Newcomb, NY 12852
Many Trails around the Campus
The Newcomb VIC is another excellent area for people just getting into the winter hiking and snowshoe world, especially those looking for an educational aspect to their adventure. The VIC has a number of well-maintained, flat to moderately inclined, trails running all over their campus, with signs at various points detailing information about specific flora and fauna to keep your eye out for. If you go on the weekend, there will be a staff naturalist on site that you can speak with and learn more about the property and wildlife in the area. The VIC trail system also connects with the road into Great Camp Santanoni, for the ambitious hikers who want to log some miles that day. This trail system ranges from a 1 to 2 in difficulty.
Sawyer Mountain, Between Blue Mountain Lake and Indian Lake (Intermediate)
6.8 miles from gas station in Blue Mountain Lake, Trail head is on the right
2.1 mile round trip
While this hike does not boast some of the summit views that other area hikes might offer, it has multiple look-out points along the trail, and just after the summit, that more than make up for it. From parking lot to summit is just over one mile, and mostly meanders through the woods, with some very minimal scrambling towards the summit, but nothing a child couldn’t easily get over. The summit is mostly wooded in, but the scenery from the two look out points below the summit, and the one after the summit offer stunning views of the surrounding area.
This trail is fairly well trafficked, but shouldn’t be too busy most of the time, and is the perfect trail to bring your family pet along for the adventure. This trail is rated around a 2-3 in difficulty, and should be handled by just about anyone.
Castle Rock, Blue Mountain Lake NY (Intermediate)
1.6 miles down Maple Lodge Rd. in Blue Mountain Lake
2.8 mile round trip
Bang for your buck, Castle Rock provides some of the best views in the area without requiring a full day, or a particularly arduous hike. The 2.8 mile round trip is relatively easy, and offers an easier path to the summit called “The Loop Trail” which is very well marked at the trailhead. Added bonus to the hike are the “Talon” caves just before the summit. This hike is rated around a 2-3, depending on if you use the Loop Trail to summit.
Owl’s Head Mountain, Long Lake NY (Intermediate)
1.6 miles from Route 30 on Endion Rd.
6.3 mile round trip
Don’t be intimated by the mileage on this hike, the first 2/3 of the trail are easy to moderate without too great of an incline or decline, the last 1/3 becomes mostly moderate, with a small scramble just before the summit. The summit itself offers beautiful 180 degree views, or climb the fire tower to take in the full 360 degree view, just make sure to take your snowshoes off before ascending the stairs. Owl’s Head is a great trail to bring kids on their first “longer” hike due to the mellowness of most of the trail, and the payoff at the summit is more than worth the half day it might require. This hike is rated a 3-4, mostly due to the length, and the brief scramble just below the summit.
Some brief notes about winter hiking and things to consider/take with you on your next adventure:
Bring extra water (preferably in a container it can’t freeze in) because your hydration system drinking tube will freeze very quickly.
Pack multiple extra layers, including base layers, socks, hats, and at least one down jacket.
Remember that the days are very short in the winter, so plan your start time accordingly, and always take a headlamp and extra batteries with you.
Keeping your feet and hands warm and dry is of the utmost importance. Bring different options of gloves to make sure your hands stay toasty, but not too sweaty.
If you are attempting a longer hike, pack some things that can warm someone up rapidly, such as hand warmers, down jackets and pants, and a thermos of hot liquid such as miso soup or chicken broth.
The last thing to remember when jumping into winter hiking, do not pack what just what you think you will personally need, but pack what you think it will take to keep one of your hiking partners warm for 6-8 hours if they become incapacitated. Stay warm, stay safe, sign the registration box, don’t litter, and take lots of pictures.
Written by Tim Helms, Long Lake Events Coordinator 2019
First time visitors – short walks that are easy, and kid and dog friendly
Lake Eaton Campground – EASY
Buttermilk Falls – EASY – From town, travel south on NYS Route 30/28N towards Blue Mt. Lake for 2.9 miles, make a right at County Route 3/North Point Road/Buttermilk Falls Road. Drive 2.1 miles and parking area will be on the right.
Coney Mountain – Easy/Intermediate
Winter Climbing: This trail is typically broken out by midday after a storm but can become quite slippery as you approach the summit. This is a great snowshoe, not recommended for skiing.