Enjoying the James C Frenette Sr. Recreational Trail

A view of Cranberry Pond from the ski trails in Tupper Lake. (Photo provided)

Rain and snow, the weather can’t make up its mind. For those times when I don’t want to break trail myself, it is nice to have some groomed cross-country ski options. Though there are wonderful choices that have reasonable trail fees, such as Mount Van Hoevenberg, Dewey Mountain, and the Paul Smith’s Vic, the James C Frenette, Sr Recreational Trails in Tupper Lake offer a free option that fit our plan nicely.

Located at the Tupper Lake Golf Course, the 18-hole regulation course turns into a cross-country ski and snowshoe center each winter. The transformed golf course offers seven groomed trails for the beginner/intermediate skier. The trails led us through wooded trails as well as through open fields. Dogs are welcome and people snowshoeing are directed to stay to the sides of the trails.

The main loop, aptly named the Golf Course loop, is a 1.5-mile circle that starts at the parking area/club house and connects with a few intersecting trails along the way. I had thought that the trail would be completely flat, but was reminded that it does follow the golf course. There were a few modest hills, but nothing a novice couldn’t successfully manage. Along the loop, the Hull trail is a 0.5-mile spur trail. I didn’t go on it, but my husband took an extended ski and said he was pleasantly surprised by the additional elevation and challenges.

At about 0.6-mile, we reach Cranberry Pond with a firepit and views of the snow covered pond. There seems to be a beaver lodge peeking out of the snow and I watch some people test the pond’s edge with their snowshoes. (Please be careful around any water source unless you are familiar with any hidden springs and ice thickness.) The Cranberry Pond trail loops around the northern section of the pond, but we continue toward the south.

The Golf Course loop hugs the western shoreline and we see Big Tupper mountain and Ski Resort trails to the south. There are a few herd paths, but we head to the right to start circling back to the parking area. It is another 0.6 miles to complete the circle. This section of the trail is more exposed cutting through the golf course greens. I hit an icy patch during a slight downhill turn, but my husband manages with little disruption to his glide. It’s a quick ski back to the car.

The James C. Frenette, Sr Recreational Trails are free and open to the public. The trails are weather dependent and open from dawn to dusk. To get there from the center of Tupper Lake, take state Route 30 south toward Long Lake. After crossing the bridge over Simond Pond, drive an additional 0.7-mile. Turn left onto Country Club Lane. There are signs for Ski Big Tupper and the ski trails. Parking and trail maps are located at 141 Country Club Lane.

Diane Chase is the author of the “Adirondack Family Activities” guidebook series, “Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities.” For more family-friendly

activities go to www.adirondackfamilytime.com.

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