This content was produced in partnership with the Regional Office Of Sustainable Tourism.
If you visit a small Adirondack ski hill on a winter afternoon, you’ll get a better understanding of why so many Adirondack natives wind up being top-notch skiers.
You’ll see kids of all ages, some seemingly barely able to walk, being pulled by the T-bar up the mountain, while others around them careen down the mountain, carving turns as they go.
This what kids do after school and on weekends in small towns in the Adirondacks. They ski, and they ski hard, at small mountains as their parents glide next to them or sit in the cozy lodge sipping hot chocolate by the warm fire. Here are three grassroots Adirondack ski mountains that are favorites among the locals and make great destinations.
Located a short drive from downtown Saranac Lake, Mount Pisgah is your prototypical small-town Adirondack ski mountain. It offers amazing views, it’s got a charming lodge, and it has strong support in the local community.
The mountain itself is relatively small, offering two main runs, glade skiing, and a vertical rise of 329 feet that is serviced by a T-bar lift. But from the 2,083-foot summit, you get outstanding views of peaks in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness and the winding Saranac River.
During the week, Pisgah is open in the afternoons and evenings for nighttime skiing. On the weekends, the mountain has a more typical schedule, opening in the morning and staying late. Saturday mornings can be especially fun for children during the ski race season when the candy bar races are held. All participants get a candy bar upon completion of the course.
In addition to skiing, Pisgah offers 3.5 miles of snowshoeing trails and two runs snow tubing. While the mountain does rent tubes, it doesn’t have a ski rental shop.
Downhill skiing has long been popular in Saranac Lake, and the United states Eastern Amateur Ski Association was founded at a Saranac Lake Ski Club meeting in 1922. The same club was instrumental in the formation of Mount Pisgah as a ski mountain in the late 1940s as they helped clear the slops of trees and debris and supported the development of the mountain.
Pisgah has often relied on the support of its community. When the T-bar needed replacing, Friends of Mount Pisgah went to work to raise the funds to get a new one, which was installed 2011. The mountain even got an unexpected boost in 2010 when the U.S. National Ski Team – highlighted by Olympic Gold-medalist Ted Ligety – showed up to ski with children and help raise awareness of the hill for a new lift.
Voters in Liftopia’s Best in Snow awards held Mount Titus in high regard in 2019, choosing it as the second best overall ski area in the United States. It also received the top award for the most beginner-friendly mountain and second place in the family-friendly resort category.
Located in the northern Adirondacks near Malone, Titus is spread out over three interconnected mountains, with the tallest, Upper Mountain, topping out at 2,025 feet. In all, there are 50 trails and glades.
Compared to many grassroots ski mountains, Titus offers a large variety of services, ranging from slopeslide ski-in and ski-out lodging to a rental shop and restaurants. It also offers tubing and numerous options for beginners, including lessons for kids and adults.
Titus has a strong reputation as a night skiing destination, With 15 lit trails and two terrain parks staying open until 10 p.m. on weekend nights, it’s the perfect place to catch a sunset.
With young children of their own, Oak Mountain owners Matt and Laura O’Brien known how important it is to keep the skiing fun.
That’s why they emphasize small-town hospitality and try to keep things light with visitors. For instance, the owners offer perks like a free hot chocolate each day to the first kid to find the “hidden owl” on the trails.
Located in the southern Adirondack town of Speculator, Oak Mountain is open Friday afternoons, in addition to Saturdays and Sundays. It offers 22 trails that are accessible by a quad and two T-bars. Fifty percent of the trails have snowmaking, including the popular Oak Mountain Run.
This family owned operation, which also includes Matt’s parents Kevin and Elizabeth, took over in 2012, and helped the ski mountain celebrate its 70th year in the winter of 2018-19. Matt and Laura had extensive experience before taking over, working at ski resorts in Sugarbush, Vermont; Sunday River, Maine; and Park City, Utah.
In addition to the ski hill, the mountain has a restaurant, Acorn Pub and Eatery, and a tubing hill. Night skiing is offered on Saturday’s during Holiday weekends.
Oak Mountain is indeed a place for all generations. Kids under 5 or adults over 70 ski free.