1st XC ski day of the season! Although we got our snow on Thanksgiving eve, Saturday was our first chance to pull the skis out. I looked back at my notes from 2013 and found last year's first day on skies was 12/13. It's great to have an earlier start this year. Leesa and I both had some time in the morning so we headed over to Cronin's Golf Resort in Warrensburg, and the adjacent Warren County Nordic Ski trail system.
This area gets a lot of use, but we beat the crowds by getting out on the trails by 8:30. The trails had all been broken out from the previous two days, but the snow was still soft perfect for skiing. The temperature was in the mid to upper 20's and was expected to stay that way all day.
We started by doing a loop around the golf course, which is about 2 miles. Our dog Rev was more than happy to be out in the snow. It was a nice blue sky day and it was nice to be out on skis again.
Golf courses are always great. You don't have to worry about whether or not there are rocks, roots or sticks under the snow. You can practice your technique, or just be out enjoying the day. We enjoy Cronin's; plus it gave us a chance to see the Hudson River while skiing.
|Frost on the grass|
|Leesa enjoyed the snow and sunshine|
|The Hudson River flows alongside the golf course|
|Moon Mountain in the background|
|Hickory Mountain Ski Area in the background|
After we completed the golf course loop we went into the adjacent Warren County Nordic trail system. While the trails are pretty, there was just barely enough snow in the woods to ski without worry of scratching the bottoms of the skis up.
|The Hudson River already had ice forming on it|
|We skied these trails, but they could use some more snow|
|Trail map for the Warren County Nordic trail system|
After the Warren County trails, we went back to the car. Eight cars had already arrived after we did. It was still early, but we had to head home for some mid-day errands.
By 2 PM, I was done with my errands and went back out to check out an area I had not been to before; the Pack Demonstration Forest in Warrensburg. The entrance to the forest is 1/4 mile north of the intersection of Route 9 and Route 28. I started, however, on the west side of the forest at the intersection of Golf Course Road and Route 28. I went in at the gate at that location.
There are many jeep roads in the forest. All are very skiable and very pleasant. I skied into Pack Forest Lake, then did a clockwise loop around the lake. I really liked the fact that there were lots of gentle grades that were easy to climb, yet provided nice downhill glides on the return. This forest would be a great place for novices to practice gliding on small grades without fear of gaining too much speed.
|Jeep Road of left, Pack Demonstration Lake on the right|
|Easy skiing here|
|An accessible fishing dock|
|One of the buildings in the camp complex|
At the NE end of the lake, I veered left to ski up Ben Wood Mountain. This route was steeper, (climbing roughly 350 feet in 1/2 mile). I had great fun skiing back down, but this should be considered an intermediate level trail. The only problem I had was that this route barely had enough snow and I hit a couple rocks on the way down. A couple more inches of snow will cure this.
Back on the lake loop I continued clockwise. At the NE corner of the lake, I intersected with Pack Demonstration Road. This road had not been plowed, but it had been driven on by trucks. I skied in the median between the truck tracks. ( Edit - I later received a comment that the road on the east side of the lake is part of a snowmobile route. I've indicated the snowmobile route with blue dots on the map at the bottom of this post).
It was just after 4 PM as I skied south on the east side of the lake. I picked up the pace so I would be able to get back to the car before dark. I hadn't brought a headlamp with me since I hadn't expected the trail system to be as large as it is.
|Nearing sunset at the Pack Demonstration Lake|
After looping around the south side of the lake, I reconnected with my tracks from the west. I climbed the small hill heading west away from the lake, then enjoyed a nice long gentle glide back to the car.
I was excited to find this area, and I'll be back soon to explore it further. I'm sure Leesa will like it as well. The jeep roads had more snow cover than the woods and provided enough snow at this time for some nice skiing.
|Sign on Route 9, just north of Route 28|
Morning Ski Stats at Cronin's Golf Resort & Warren County Trails
Ski Distance: 3 mile loop
Ski Time: 1.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 50'
|Cronin's Golf Resort & Warren County Ski Trails|
Afternoon Ski Stats - Pack Demonstration Forest:
My Ski Distance: 6.9 miles
Ski Time: 2 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 500'
|Pack Forest - My ski route in red. Blue dots indicate snowmobile route.|