Given its lack of fancy viewing areas for spectators and low-key facilities, it's hard to imagine that Mount Van Hoevenberg hosted the cross-country skiing events for the 1980 Winter Olympics. But enter into the woods and you immediately find yourself in a Nordic wonderland. The trails on Van Hoevenberg's impeccably kept 31-mile network vary from extremely easy to cry-for-your-mama black diamond. The ski area sits in the hills about 10 minutes outside of the village of Lake Placid, next to the Olympic bobsled track, and because most winter visitors to the area come for the skiing at Whiteface, the Nordic paths are left deliciously empty for locals and the world-class athletes that come there to train and compete.
STAY: The old Mirror Lake Inn, on the shore of Mirror Lake in downtown Lake Placid, is expensive, but given its warmth, location, and service, it's worth the price. Rates start at $245 a night.