(Above) © Paul Havel & Jackie Greaney
Most northern tourist towns close up shop when the snow begins to fall, but that is when Lake Placid really comes alive. Steeped in winter Olympic tradition (the little alpine village has hosted not one, but two winter Olympic games – one in 1932, the other in 1980), the best athletes in the US and Canada flock to the area for competitions for everything from Nordic skiing to hockey to dogsled racing, making this one of the best place for active winter pursuits.
Activities & Attractions
Join a Local Pickup Game
Lake Placid Lodge has skates in all sizes for guests to borrow for pickup hockey games on Mirror Lake. Kid-friendly games are usually held midday or after school, while the adults take over later in the morning or wait until later to hit the ice. Just be conscious of dogsled mushers giving locals and visitors rides up and down the lake.
Take a Walk in the Winter Wild
Those who have heard of forest bathing – the therapeutic pastime of immersing yourself in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature through a walk in the woods – often associate the act as something limited to the warmer seasons. But according to Helene Gibbens, co-owner of Adirondack Riverwalking, a Lake Placid-based guiding service that leads sensory-immersion excursions into the wilds of the Adirondacks, winter is one of the best times for the practice for the serene hush and quiet. Which is why, across the month of February, she offers regular wintertime forest bathing sessions on snowshoes departing from The Wild Center, an acclaimed nature preserve and museum located 25 miles west of Lake Placid in Tupper Lake. The two-hour tours take place on the trails surrounding the center; registration is required.
Lake Placid favorite Big Slide Brewery has a constantly rotating selection of 10 taps. This time of year, however, expect to see some of their classic cold-weather staples, including Scully’s Smoked Porter (with applewood smoked barley and chocolate malts) and the unique Hot Pepper Pale Ale, brewed with 15 pounds of chopped poblano peppers and two pounds of fresh jalapeños.
Race Across Mirror Lake
Once Mirror Lake, the tranquil body of water that the town of Lake Placid centers around, freezes over, thrill-seekers of all ages can take advantage of a unique sliding experience: The Lake Placid Toboggan Chute. After pulling an old-fashioned sled up a 30-foot-high converted ski jump trestle, you’ll tuck your feet for a front-row seat to whiz more than 1,000 feet, skittering across the frozen surface of Mirror Lake. Open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the lines for this only $10 experience can often be long, so plan to go during the 4 to 7 p.m. window on Friday for the shortest wait.
Spot an Unexpected Visitor
With the arctic chills blasting the US’s northern states, 2019 is promising to be a great year for spotting the illusive snowy owl. The giant predator, rarely seen in the lower 48, has flocked to area in historic and unprecedented numbers creating mayhem at airports and delighting Harry Potter fans. One such place they’ve been spotted locally: The Craig Wood Golf Course, reminiscent of their home in the arctic tundra. Take a causal cross-country ski climb (either at daybreak or dusk when they are more likely to be active) up River Road to Craig Wood Golf Course and keep your eyes peeled as you descend into Cascade Ski Center’s groomed Nordic trails.
2020 Festivals & Events
Full Moon Party, 2/8 & 3/7
For an entrance fee of $15, you can ski (rentals available) the partially lit trails at Cascade Ski Center under the full moon, then hang out at two different bonfires set along the trail (about a half-mile part) while indulging in the supplied hot dogs to roast, a keg of beer, and hot chocolate. The evening concludes with live music at the center’s lodge.
Adirondack Snowshoe Fest, 2/21–23
A variety of snowshoe-oriented events take place during this weekend event, including a Snowshoe & Ski Jam at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center, a race at Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC), guided tours, and scavenger hunts.
Adirondack Backcountry Ski Fest, 3/7 & 8
If you’ve only ever hit the groomed slopes of a resort, this backcountry bash might be just the kind of adventure your routine needs. Learn everything you need to know about skiing and snowboarding in the wild with demos, clinics, and tours hosted by experts and guest athletes.
36th Annual Loppet, 3/14
One of the only races of its kind in the US, this citizens cross-country ski race features athletes from the US and Canada who compete in two distance races – 25 or 50 kilometers – on the Olympic trails on Mt. Van Hoevenberg.
Taste of Maple Weekend, 3/21–22 & 3/28–29
During this sweet weekend event, Lake Placid’s Uihlein Forest conducts tours of its sugarhouse, while the downtown Conference Center hosts local maple producers showcasing their products and processes. Expect maple-based cuisine, beer, and spirits, as well as live music and a maple syrup–tasting competition.
Where to Stay Lake Placid Lodge