Hut-to-hut skiing in the Adirondacks

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 9-15, 1997
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Hut-to-hut skiing in the Adirondacks
Question: Last year the Adventure Adviser sent me on a backcountry ski trip to Zealand Falls Hut in New Hampshire. This year I'm looking for something similar, yet different. An overnight or multi-night hut trip, suitable for a strong intermediate skier (wedge turns but no telemark) and within four hours of Hartford, Connecticut.

John Puziss
Meriden, CT
[email protected]

Strike out on your own for a backcountry ski tour
Adventure Adviser: This season, why not try a hut-to-hut backcountry trip in the Adirondacks? I can't guarantee that they're within four hours of Hartford, but they can't be too far off--about 90 miles north of Albany, off I-87. I've done considerable backcountry skiing in the High Peaks region, between Keene and Lake Placid, and in a good snow year it's hard to beat the rolling trails and occasionally steep but rewarding grunts up through pine and spruce forests to views of the valley below.

On the guided inn-to-inn circuit, check in with Garnet Hill Lodge, just south of the Keene area, about their three- and four-night treks that link four inns along the 31-mile network of groomed trails. This is definitely the plush way to go; the lodges--Highwinds Inn, Kings Flow Camp, and Wilderness Lodge, as well as Garnet Hill--come complete with roaring wood stoves, cozy sitting rooms, and plenty of hearty food. Packages include guide service, meals, lodging, and baggage transfer (that's right, no shouldering heavy packs on this trip). Garnet Hill Lodge is in North River, off I-87 and New York 28 west. For details, call 800-497-4207.

If the thought of down comforters, hot showers, and groomed trails makes you cringe and you long for the rustic pleasures of primitive lodges and untracked snow, consider a multi-day backcountry tour with Adirondack Hut-to-Hut in nearby Kings Flow. You'll ski about eight miles a day, from one heated hut to the next, through the Siamese Ponds Wilderness. Don't expect to see a lot of other skiers out there: Most of the routes require breaking trail as you go (intermediate skiing ability will suffice). Two-night trips cost $140 per person and five-nighters are $395, including meals, lodging, guides, and pack transfer. Call 518-828-7007.

If you'd rather strike out on your own, I recommend bunking down at Garnet Hill and doing a series of day trips in the area, such as the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Trail or the Old Farm Clearing Trail to Puffer Pond. The folks at Garnet Hill can provide you with route suggestions and maps. Or head north, making the rustic Adirondack Loj in the High Peaks your base camp, and try the 11-mile round-trip ski from the Loj to Avalanche Lake--with a spectacular finish beneath sheer granite cliffs at the lake, followed by a fast and narrow downhill past Marcy Dam and back to the Loj. Coed bunks cost $30 per person, per night and private rooms are $49 per person during peak season. For cheaper rates, try their mid-week specials; call 518-523-5441 for more details.

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