Each year, Upstate New York transforms into a winter wonderland of fun, and a destination for skiers, snowmobilers, and more to hit the trails. Whether you find this time of year to be full of possibilities or it turns you into a bit of a grinch, there’s no better way to enjoy the winter season than to get out and explore.
Rev Up Your Snowmobile for an Unforgettable Ride
We’re all familiar with the rumble of engines as snowmobile riders head out on the winter trails after a heavy snowfall. There are hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails in the Adirondacks and the rest of the North Country, but some of the best are located in the rolling hills and picturesque farmland of Washington County.
From local clubs to sled-friendly pit stops and restaurants, this area is a snowmobiler’s paradise.
Winters in Upstate New York can be unpredictable, and it’s important to know which trails are open or closed at any given time. Before you go, check with our local clubs for updates on the latest trail conditions and to request this year’s trail map.
These clubs are part of the Washington County Association of Snowmobile Clubs, so we recommend you visit their individual website for the most current trail conditions:
- Battenkill SnowDrifters
- Granville Border Riders
- Whitehall RailRiders Snowmobile Club, Inc.
- Hartford Ridge Riders
- Kingsbury Barnstormers
- Northern Washington County Trail Blazers
Explore the Sights of the Cambridge Community Forest
Likely the newest public use park in the county, the Cambridge Community Forest was officially opened just after Thanksgiving of this year. Owned and managed by the Agricultural Stewardship Association, the 140-acre wooded property is open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year with trails for walking, hiking, and snowshoeing. Two trails are currently marked, with additional trails to come.
Plus, this natural haven is a great place for bird watching and fishing on the White Creek come summertime.
Break Out Those Cross-Country Skis
A unique way to get outside in the winter or mix up your workout routine is by cross-country skiing across snow-covered terrain.
Here in Washington County, there are two widely popular hiking and biking trails you may not know are also open to cross-country skiers: the Feeder Canal Towpath Trail and the Delaware and Hudson Rail-Trail.
Beginning at Mullen Park in Fort Edward and heading North to the Feeder Dam in Queensbury, the Feeder Canal Towpath Trail is nine miles long and follows alongside the historic canal. The trail is open for walking, running, and biking throughout the warmer months, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.
Near the border of Washington County and Vermont, the Delaware and Hudson Rail-Trail is another option for free cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The northern section mostly travels through Vermont while the southern section brings travelers through Middle Granville, Granville, and then across the Vermont border. Granville’s Slate Valley Museum is just a block away from one of the main trailheads.
Strap on Those Spikes or Snowshoes For a Winter Hike Through Scenic Landscapes
Sometimes the best way to cure cabin fever in winter is by gearing up for a trip through beautiful forests and nature preserves. These sites offer an escape from the stress of everyday life and are perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing too. Get back to nature and check out these winter trails in Washington County.
Take in the scenic views of Vermont’s Green Mountains from one of Washington County’s most unique residences: the New Skete Monastery. Just 4 miles from the village of Cambridge, the churches, gardens, bell tower, and trails are open Tuesday through Sunday for self-guided tours.
The 1.23-mile trail loop is an excellent choice for a peaceful winter hiking or snowshoeing excursion in a scenic location. Just remember to let a staff member or monk know you’re entering the trail. (The grounds of the Monks’ Monastery are open in all seasons, but closed for annual community retreats, which usually take place from mid-August to mid-September and in February).
These two state forests are next to each other in the Towns of Jackson and White Creek, and both are open year-round for recreational activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. The Folded Rock Trail travels through both forests and ends at a scenic vantage point.
The 2,471-acre Saddles State Forest is a large state-owned property and an ideal setting for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in the wilderness. There is a designated parking area in Whitehall near the Champlain Beef facility. Be sure to plan ahead, as there are no marked trails in Saddles State Forest for these activities.
Owned and managed by the Pember Library and Museum, the Pember Nature Preserve features 125 acres of forest, wetland, and fields near Black Creek. The nature preserve is eight miles south of Granville on Route 22, and there are eight trails open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk. Snowshoes are recommended on the trails during winter, and you can pick up a trail map at the preserve’s trailheads and the Pember Library and Museum.
Gull Bay Preserve in the Town of Putnam is a woodland property owned by the Lake George Land Conservancy. There are multiple marked trails throughout the preserve that visitors can hike along year-round. When snow falls, you can try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the winter trails.
Whatever your preferred way to get out this season, Washington County has hundreds of miles of winter trails to explore.