Snowshoe Routes Adirondacks and Catskills  by Bill Ingersoll

Snowshoe Routes: Adirondacks & Catskills Guide Book

by Bill Ingersoll (The Mountaineers Books)
Snowshoe Routes Adirondacks and Catskills  by Bill Ingersoll
From the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness, Mount Marcy, and Little Woodhull Lake in the Adirondacks to Wittenberg Peak and Hunter Mountain in the Catskills, explore the 65 best snowshoe routes in upstate New York. Snowshoe Routes: Adirondacks & Catskills is also packed with helpful information, including tips on selecting proper attire and equipment, choosing the best snowshoes, understanding the basics of winter camping, and more. Strap on your snowshoes and discover the Empire State’s best winter playground – the Adirondacks and the Catskills! Includes: 65 routes throughout the Adirondacks and Catskills; outings that range from easy to backcountry, many with winter camping opportunities; trails within easy driving distance of New York City, Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Saratoga Springs, and Watertown; and a handy quick reference chart listing snowshoe routes by distance, duration, difficulty, and features.

© 2006 Bill Ingersoll/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Snowshoe Routes: Adirondacks & Catskills" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 65.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 65.

Once you manage to find the trailhead among the secluded back roads of the western Catskills, this snowshoe route is one of the easiest and most scenic in the region. It traces a loop around a man-made lake that was part of the Coykendall Estate. Except for the initial climb up to the lodge, this route contains no significant ups or downs. There is room for several cars to park beside Alder Creek Road, where a sign marks access to the Forest Preserve. The hike begins along the unplowed access road, which climbs only 100 feet along the side of the hill to a large clearing. Here you will find the foundations of several buildings and the summer trailhead just beyond.
Grant Mills, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2
The highest mountain in the Ashokan Range, south of Esopus Creek, is named simply High Point on USGS maps. However, to distinguish this High Point from others such as Windham and Kaaterskill, it is more commonly referred to as Ashokan High Point, or even Shokan High Point. At 3080 in feet, it is not ranked among the thirty-five High Peaks. However, its position along the Escarpment and its isolation from other mountains gives it quite a view. From the summit, one can enjoy a vast vista south and east across the Hudson Valley, ranging from Kingston to New Jersey. Further northwest along the ridge, open blueberry meadows permit views of the mountains composing the Burroughs Range, with Slide itself presiding above its neighbors. As beautiful as the summit may be, so too is the hike to the mountain along Kanape Brook. Here is one of the precious few Catskill valleys lying entirely within the Forest Preserve. The first 2 miles of this hike follow a well-defined roadbed through this valley—a section that alone recommends itself as an easy walk through deep woods, eminently suitable for both skiing and snowshoeing. The climb to the summit is moderately steep, with only a few brief scrambles over rock ledges.
Peekamoose, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 9
Most snowshoe trips into the heart of the High Peaks Wilderness are difficult treks at best, mostly because of the distances and terrain involved. However, here is one you can do as a moderate day trip, and it leads to one of the most spectacular mountain passes in the northeast. It is no surprise that this is also a very popular route, but in this case its popularity is an advantage: when trails elsewhere are impassable with a deep, fresh snow, this one is almost always packed down and in good shape.
Shady Corner Curve, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 9.2
Bailey is a small pond at the southern edge of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area. It is accessible by a short trail, and although it is only a few miles west of a busy interstate corridor, it really is a wilderness destination. This easy hike with an attractive destination is ideal for families.
Schroon Lake, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.4
Balsam Lake Mountain is the westernmost of the Catskill High Peaks, and like many of the others it would be largely viewless were it not for its fire tower. Over the years, four towers have occupied the summit. The current one was built in 1930, and it has recently been restored with the help of a group based in northern New Jersey. It is occasionally manned even on some winter weekends, at which times the observer’s cabin below is opened as a warming hut. The trail leading to the mountain from Mill Brook Road is the popular route to the tower because of its mild grades, even though the route from the south is considerably shorter. It follows the tower’s old access road, which is still lined with telephone poles. The entire route to within 0.5 mile of the summit crosses private land, confining public use to the trail itself.
Belle Ayr, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 6
Of the four Catskill High Peaks named for the balsam fir, Balsam Mountain is the least deserving of the name. Balsams do occur as a secondary tree on the summit, but the hike up the mountain passes through so many other notable forest types that you will hardly take note of the one species for which the mountain was unimaginatively named. All this notwithstanding, the loop over the summit of 3600-foot Balsam Mountain is an exceptional hike, with some steep grades but an overall short distance. Balsam is the northernmost point in a 17-square-mile patch of old growth forest, which you will encounter along the ridgeline, with maturing second growth extending down the hollows. Farming occurred right up to the foot of the mountain, including the initial part of the hike, and limited logging occurred on the mid-slopes.
Fleischmanns, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.2
Like Bailey Pond, here is another easy destination in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. This one is a little longer, but it, too, follows an old woods road. It is a delight for snowshoeing, and it is perfect for those looking for a short, easy excursion through the woods. The route begins in a pine plantation and ends in a native hemlock stand. The pond is a great place for a picnic or a short backpacking trip.
Schroon Lake, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3.2
From neighboring mountains, Blackhead is a lump of a mountain with a rounded top and steep sides. It is connected to but somewhat apart from Black Dome Mountain, and while it is part of the Escarpment, it towers above every other knob on that mountain wall. In fact, it is higher than most other Catskill peaks—at 3940 feet, it is the fourth highest in the park. As a winter snowshoe hike, the steep mountainsides present a formidable obstacle no matter which of the three trails you take to or from the summit. The rock ledges along the trail are certain to have patches of ice under the snow. But if you take your time and make sure to maintain three points of contact with the mountain at all times as you climb, you will find Blackhead to be among the most rewarding climbs in the Catskills.
Maplecrest, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.2
Buckhorn Lake—alternately known as Fiddlers Lake—lies amidst the open hardwoods south of Piseco Lake, at the foot of a rolling ridge of hills that encircles its northern and eastern sides. Boggy shores and islands, punctuated by groves of weathered snags, characterize this picturesque retreat, which is located just 0.1 mile northeast of the Northville-Placid Trail. While located in a wilderness setting, Buckhorn is very easy to reach. The few obstacles you will encounter on the half-hour walk—a beaver-flooded stream, a brief bushwhack to get from the trail to the lake—will be enough to give you the sense that you have accomplished a rugged hike, without actually requiring you to slog for miles through the wilds. The trail is wide and obvious, and the grades are gentle. This is certainly a great hike for families.
Rudeston, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3
While technically not part of the West Central Plateau, Cascade Lake and Queer Lake offer a more accessible wintertime alternative to that inaccessible interior. Both are located north of Eagle Bay in the Pigeon Lake Wilderness, and the route to Cascade Lake is a popular winter trail that just about anyone can enjoy.
Eagle Bay, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.6
Cat Mountain Pond lies at the foot of the 500-foot cliffs of its namesake mountain; it is readily accessible by trail; and it is surrounded by a cluster of other small ponds. Despite all this, it is not generally seen as a destination in itself, but merely as something to look at from the summit of Cat Mountain. Actually, Cat Mountain Pond is one of the most attractive bodies of water anywhere in the Adirondacks, and it makes an ideal base camp for a winter overnight. Most people who snowshoe in this area head just to Cat Mountain, and few take the time to go on to Cowhorn and Bassout ponds. Together with Glasby Pond, which you inevitably pass while hiking to any of the other places, there is enough to see in this one location—four ponds and the mountain—to make it worthy of planning an entire weekend, taking your time as you explore all the ins and outs.
Star Lake, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 11.2
With its lean-to, easy trail, and fine views of the Pinnacle, Chase Lake would seem to have all the ingredients of a popular destination. Nevertheless, the DEC reports that an average of a hundred people visit the lake each year. The trail was once used by snowmobiles, but today the few people who do go to Chase Lake do so under their own power. The DEC has proposed to redesignate the trail for foot travel only, as well as to replace the old lean-to with a new one on the more scenic eastern shoreline.
Peters Corners, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.2
The trail to Clear Pond begins on the edge of a residential area and leads in a short distance to a pond surrounded by white birch. It is a modest hike with minor elevation change and a handsome destination. The start of this route is just a short drive outside of Indian Lake, where you will find supplies, accommodations, and other small-town services.
Indian Lake, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.6
What makes the snowshoe route to Cotton Lake difficult is not its 3.5-mile length or the rolling terrain, but simply the fact that the place is reached only by navigating a series of unmarked old woods roads. Further complicating matters is the fact that none of these roads show on topographic maps. However, this has long been a favorite winter hike of mine, for not only is it close to where I live but the entire route is located in deep woods with a true wilderness quality. Even the trailhead is remote and secluded. This hike is sure to please.
North Wilmurt, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 7
DeBraine is a relatively recent Forest Preserve acquisition, and you will find the remains of a camp protruding from the snow near its western shore. In addition to opening the beautiful pond to the public, this purchase also provided better access to a tract of old growth forest to the south, encompassing Trout Lake. This tract extends south and east to the Powley-Piseco Road and used to contain several celebrated stands of red spruce. Of all the Adirondack trees besides white pine, red spruce was the most sought-after for lumber in the nineteenth century. It is a slow-growing species, and while many formerly logged areas have had a chance to return to near old growth proportions, it is only in the true old growth stands—those that were never logged—where you might be lucky to find individual trees that surpass the average size for the species.
Hoffmeister, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.2
Doubletop Mountain’s distinctive profile is clearly visible from the trailhead at the end of Beaver Kill Road. Of the various approaches to its summit, this one is the longest, hardest, and perhaps most rewarding. The mountain is a 3860-foot High Peak with a densely wooded balsam summit, but with limited views. However, of its twin summit knobs, only the southern one falls on state land. Hikers wishing to explore the entire mountain must first seek permission from the landowner. Using this route to reach the mountain can be done in a long, strenuous day, or it can be broken up over a weekend. If you are hiking the entire route in a day, allow anywhere from four to five hours for the ascent, and three to four hours for the return. If you would prefer to set up a winter base camp along the way, the possibilities are wide open. Tunis Pond is a scenic location near the middle point of the route, but it is possible to establish a legal campsite near a source of water practically anywhere along the way to the foot of the mountain.
Seager, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 11
Dry Brook Ridge falls short of qualifying as one of the High Peaks by a mere 40 feet, and that slim margin seems to be all that is keeping this from being a more popular mountain. The grades are moderate, the length is reasonable, and the views are fine. This is a very good mountain for a winter snowshoe hike, but compared to the High Peaks to the south and east it is only lightly visited. Several trailheads give access to Dry Brook Ridge, but one of the more scenic begins off of Hill Road, on the southwest side of the mountain.
Margaretville, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 8.2
The recent acquisition of Henderson Lake and the Preston Ponds has opened up an outstanding winter trek, gaining in popularity among snowshoers and skiers alike. The public had always been allowed to hike through the pass to reach the Cold River valley, but now it is possible to leave the trail and walk across the ice, trimming 2 miles off the length of the hike. Doing so has also improved the scenic quality of the hike a hundredfold; the original trail kept to the woods and offered few glimpses of the lakes or the surrounding mountains. One of the highlights is the view through Indian Pass, dominated by the sheer cliffs of Wallface Mountain.
Tahawus, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 11
Despite the Catskills’ fame as the home of a number of world-class trout streams, very few of those waterways (or any of the major streams, for that matter) have been acquired for the Forest Preserve. One of the exceptions is the uppermost section of the East Branch of the Neversink River, which rises on the south side of Slide Mountain. The river flows through a protected wilderness valley before emerging onto private land, and as one of the precious few such valleys in the park, a snowshoe hike to the mature spruce and hemlock stands in its upper reaches is a one-of-a-kind adventure. There is a marked trail to the river, but none follow it upstream. Therefore bushwhacking is required, and the further into the woods you wander, the better your chances for solitude. Favorable terrain also makes this an ideal place for a winter backpacking trip, and the host of High Peaks that engulf the valley may entice you to use the river as a base camp for an ascent of some of the trail-less peaks.
Branch, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.8
Echo Lake is one of only two named ponds protected as wilderness in the Catskill Park. As such, it is disappointing to discover that the view from its shoreline lean-to is marred by the 300-foot television tower located on Overlook Mountain. Nevertheless, Echo Lake is a great winter snowshoeing destination, as well as an obvious way to extend the easy hike to Overlook Mountain. The route involves traversing part of the Escarpment, which is incarnated here as a flying buttress spanning the gulf between Overlook and Plattekill mountains.
Byrdcliffe, NY - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 9