A ski trip with plenty of long sight lines

Neilson Snye, of Tupper Lake, skis onto private land along the Whiteface Landing trail between Lake Placid and Wilmington. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — There are plenty of options for cross country skiing in the Tri-Lakes area, but the trail out to Whiteface Landing on Lake Placid may be one of the best in terms of family-friendly skiing.

Whiteface Landing is a popular spot in the summer, when boaters, canoeists and kayakers take breaks at the former campsite. However, there is a trail from state Route 86 that offers a land option to get to one of the more secluded bays on the lake.

However, the trail to Whiteface Landing can also be used to access Connery Pond in a much shorter out-and-back if time is an issue.

The trail follows some roads through the woods, and crosses private land in some spots. The owners have allowed the public to cross their land, but be sure to stay on the trail and not litter.

For Connery Pond, you start out heading north along a wide road. At the half-mile mark, the trail bears left away from a private driveway. Just about a tenth of a mile later, you can bear right at a sign to access the shore of Connery Pond. While the round-trip to Connery Pond and back is only about a mile and half, from the shore of the pond Whiteface Mountain dominates the skyline.

After the side trail to Connery Pond, the road continues on away from the water, where there are a couple of private camps. At the 0.8-mile mark, skiers and snowshoers will reach the summer trailhead and register. From here on, the trail is marked with red state Department of Environmental Conservation trail markers.

To get out to Lake Placid lake, the trail climbs most of the way from here on out. However, it’s an easy and gradual climb for less than two-and-a-half miles, with really only one or two spots where some extra work to get uphill may be required. There’s no place where climbing skins are necessary, and just try to keep in mind that the trip out will be mostly downhill.

The trail is rather uneventful, and proceeds through mostly open hardwoods. Although there are no views along the way, there are sure to be plenty of small mammal tracks to check out. On our ski trip on Dec. 19, we followed a set of fox tracks for most of the way, as rabbit, squirrel and mouse tracks dotted the fresh inch of snow.

Just shy of 3.5 miles, there is a second trail register at a junction. At this point, you can see the lake and landing to the left, while a trail from the lake goes to the right up Whiteface Mountain. The fox tracks continued, as did my friend Neilson and I, out to the lake. The landing is a wide-open area, complete with a bench and dock for use in the summer.

From here, snowshoers can continue up Whiteface Mountain (which the sign says is three miles from the second trail register) or go about a mile to a lean-to.

After having a snack and taking the long view of the iced-over lake, we headed back the way we came. With a short climb up the trail away from the lake, we soon hit the height of land and began our descent back to the trailhead. Although it’s mostly downhill on the way back to the car, the easy grade means there are no harrowing slopes or sharp turns. Within an hour, we were back at the car, commenting on how nice a trip it was.

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