Located in the southeastern Adirondacks, Lake George is a spectacular spot to enjoy numerous winter activities while avoiding the crowds of the summer. Now is the time where the area slows down from its bustling summer pace to and becomes a tranquil haven for those seeking snowy, outdoor adventures. From hiking to snowshoeing to skiing, you’ll never run out of things to do near the “Queen of American Lakes.”
With its prime location in the Adirondack Mountains, hiking is a four-season option in the Lake George area. There are a huge range of trails, from towering mountains to gentle nature preserves. Just remember to have proper hiking gear on you such as microspikes or snowshoes whenever you are hiking in winter!
Sleeping Beauty Mountain
One of my favorites is Sleeping Beauty Mountain, located on the eastern side of the lake. This 3.6 mile out and back hike takes you over rolling terrain to a beautiful overlook of Lake George, the Southern Adirondack Mountains and even the Green Mountains in Vermont. You’ll get expansive views to the east, south and west within a fairly short walk at around 1.8 miles. The summit of Sleeping Beauty does have a lot of cliffs, so be careful once you reach the top as it can be icy. However, this hike is suitable for all skill levels, including children.
Shelving Rock Falls
Another of my beloved hiking spots is Shelving Rock Falls, just down the road from Sleeping Beauty. From the parking area on Shelving Rock Road, it’s only about .3 miles to the base of Shelving Rock Falls, a spectacular 50 foot cascade that pours into Lake George. This waterfall is truly a sight in wintertime, as blue and white ice make for stunning contrast to the dark green evergreens that surround the falls. This is another short but sweet hike that has a big payoff for little effort.
Lake George Recreation Center
Snowshoeing is one of my favorite winter activities, I love leisurely walking through snow covered woods. Lake George Recreation Center offers great snowshoeing opportunities right outside of town. Its five miles of mixed use trails take you over varied terrain, from rolling hills to steep inclines to flat straightaways. Level of difficulty ranges from beginner to advanced so there’s a trail for everyone! The trails snake along the bubbling Gage Brook, through a beautiful hardwood forest. The best part of this place is how quiet it is. I didn’t see a single person on the trail the whole time I was there! The Rec Center is easily accessible and located off the Northway at exit 21.
Up Yonda Farm
Up Yonda Farm Environmental Education Center is another must visit location for snowshoers. Every month the farm offers one-hour naturalist-guided snowshoe hikes for all ages. The hikes are led on Saturdays during January and February and admission includes rental snowshoes and hot cocoa! I love visiting Up Yonda Farm for the wonderful views of Lake George and the friendly staff that are passionate about the Adirondacks. More information on their guided snowshoe hikes and cost of admission is available on their website.
Cross Country Skiing
Cole’s Woods, Queensbury
If you’re a cross country skier, you must try Cole’s Woods in Queensbury, just south of Lake George. (My boyfriend, Terry, who loves cross country skiing, was adamant that Cole’s Woods made it into this article.) Cole’s Woods is home to the first lighted cross country ski trails in North America. Terry and I recently made the trip north for some night time skiing and snowshoeing. We headed out onto the 5 km race loop and enjoyed a lovely, foggy night in snow that was in perfect condition.
Although the woods are flanked by the Northway and the Aviation Mall, I was surprised at how I still felt like I was in a wilderness area. I loved how well lighted the trails were, and appreciated the lack of crowds. We saw just five people our entire time there! Additionally, if you don’t own your own skis, you can rent them at Inside Edge Ski and Bike, conveniently located right next to Cole’s Woods. I can’t wait to go back for some more nighttime winter fun! Cole’s Woods is free to visit.
Downhill Skiing and Tubing
The Lake George area has multiple opportunities for downhill skiing. Snow is plentiful in the Lake George area with snow fall usually occurring between November and April so there’s plenty of time to ski, snowboard and tube!
Gore Mountain Ski Resort
Just north of Lake George is Gore Mountain Ski Resort, a popular and beloved ski spot in the Adirondacks. Gore attracts skiers from all over the East Coast, with its 107 trails, 15 lifts and 12 Nordic trails for cross country skiing. And, there are tubing trails and other family-friendly ski options, too. Skiing looks a little different at Gore this winter with operational updates due to Covid, but they are still open for business, with tickets available to purchase online in advance of your visit. You can visit their website for more information on their updates and prices.
West Mountain is located in Queensbury, just south of Lake George Village. Home to 31 trails with over 1,000 feet in vertical drop and an all-ages tubing park, the trails at West Mountain are lighted so you can ski well into the night. West Mountain offers deals on different days of the week, so be sure to check their website for discounted rates! For more information on their Covid-19 protocols and lift tickets, visit their website.
Walk the Village
Lake George Village is a lovely place for a stroll. I particularly enjoy the waterfront by Shepard Park, and walking along the sidewalk around the southern end of the lake. When you’re done, warm up at a Lake George staple, Caffe Vero, serving breakfast and lunch. My favorite thing on their menu is the Chai Latte. Or, head to my personal favorite, Lake George Baking Company, for some local baked goods. In my opinion, they make one of the best black and white cookies in Upstate New York!
Written by: Maria Gigliello
Maria Gigliello is an avid hiker, paddler and writer who enjoys spending as much time as possible doing all three things in the Adirondack State Park. She is just as passionate about beer as she is about responsible outdoor recreation and is always in search of a good view and a brew. You can follow her adventures on her blog, The Dirt.