LAKE PLACID – Winter took its time arriving this year, but in the past two weeks, it has made its appearance with a vengeance. And that can only be good news for winter sports enthusiasts visiting Upstate New York.
After the Adirondacks received a week of snowfall in mid-January, temps have started dropping. Those two developments have enabled many of our traditional activities to “open up” for residents and visitors. The 1980 Olympic venues lead the way with Whiteface Mountain (skiing, snowboarding), the Olympic Sports Complex (bobsled, luge, skeleton, Nordic skiing, snow shoeing), the Olympic Jumping Complex (ski jumping, freestyle aerials), the Olympic Center (figure skating, hockey) and the Olympic Speed Skating Oval (outdoor public skating).
Take note of a recent addition to our winter menu: fat tire biking. Who says bike riding can only be done in summertime. Rent a bike from a local shop, and then head for the hills and trails!
The Mirror Lake Inn overlooks a veritable winter sports recreation center, and that would be Mirror Lake itself. Just walk down a flight of stairs from the hotel and one can literally step onto the lake and enjoy its wealth of activities. It begins immediately outside The Cottage Café.
The Mirror Lake Inn’s outdoor crew maintains two ice rinks on Mirror Lake just beneath the Cottage’s dining room. You can change into your skates along the shoreline and participate in separate skating and hockey rinks with nets. Of course, the Inn this season added a skating rink on its tennis court. That was open and functioning well before the lake was frozen safe, and remains available to guests.
From the Cottage’s rinks, just look down the length of the lake. You will see skaters taking advantage of a path around its perimeter, maintained by the Town of North Elba. It amounts to a good two miles of skating if the weather cooperates. If you prefer to walk on the lake, there is a shoulder to the skating path that provides the necessary footing. A recommendation would be to bring Yak Tracks or spiked stabilizers that wrap around the soles of your shoes for additional traction.
Two vendors offering dog sled rides, one at either end, have now opened shop on the lake. From the Inn, they are just a few minutes away whether you walk on the lake or down Main St. As you walk on water, you are also likely to see cross country skiers and snowshoers. If this sounds enticing, please bring your skis, or you may rent from several shops in town. The Inn’s front desk offers complimentary snowshoes while they last, on a first come, first served basis.
Finally, saving the best for last, is the town’s toboggan chute, located at the opposite end of the lake and adjacent to the public beach. This has been one of the great attractions of a Lake Placid winter. For a nominal fee, you can take multiple rides down the refurbished ramps. The town has the sleds so just bring yourself and those who want to laugh and scream. You’ll walk up a steep staircase to the top of the chute, well above street level. With attendants in place to steady everyone into the toboggan sled, you will then be released to gradually build up speed as you fly hell-bent onto Mirror Lake! This is the experience that people return home talking about.
These are the perfect activities to enjoy in a COVID winter. You’re outside, you can easily social distance and you are getting the freshest of air. When your experience has concluded, return to the Inn and warm up outside, with beverage in hand from the Cottage, at one of our four fire pits.
These conditions will prevail until at least Feb. 11 as we will only have two days with temps in the 30s, so dress accordingly and get ready to enjoy winter here at its best!