To Bike or ski
When I helped to build the Make Believe Trail at the Hardy Rd. trail network alongside dozens of other Barkeater Trails Alliance volunteers, I knew it would be an instant classic mountain bike trail. The undulating terrain features and the dry sandy soil make it an ideal place to ride a mountain bike. Upon completion of the trail my suspicions were correct, and the Make Believe Trail is now one of the most popular places to ride a mountain in all of the Adirondack Park. While today may be the first official day of spring, and my thoughts are turning more and more towards the two wheeled adventures in my future, mother nature has blessed us with abundant snow and my skis remain firmly affixed to my feet. After this afternoon's excursion I am convinced that the Make Believe Trail in the Hardy Rd. trail network doubles as an absolutely fantastic cross country ski trail.
It was a particularly windy afternoon when I sampled the Make Believe Trail on skis for the first time. The tall pines swayed with each gust, and made some very odd sounds as they scraped up against one another. The nearly two feet of snow that had fallen the week prior had warmed and refrozen into dense ice-like crystals. The warm wind had softened the icy snow to a mashed potato like consistency, which made for a very pleasant surface under my skis.
I parked my car at the maintained trailhead and began skiing on the East Side of Hardy Road. Skiing the trail in either direction would be enjoyable, but the option with the least technical descent (preferred on this day given the conditions) would be to ski in a clockwise direction. Moving at a very causal pace it took me roughly 30 minutes to complete the loop. Just before reaching the end of the trail I made a right turn into the Twisted Pine Trail to enjoy more skiing through the tall pine trees, which added just a few more minutes on to my route.
There is lots of other skiing to be done in the Hardy Rd. trail network, but all of it involves significant amounts of elevation lost and gained. On the West Side of Hardy Road the Good Luck Trail will take visitors to some truly spectacular views. However, this trail has many steep sections and may be best suited for very expert skiers. Those venturing on snowshoes of a wider variety of abilities are sure to have a great time. The Safe Bet Trail, also on the West Side of Hardy does have some steep section but is more suited for a wider range of skiing abilities.
On the East Side of Hardy Rd. you will find the Coniferous Trail, which would be a great addition to a ski on the make Believe Trail. It's mostly flat, and whinds tightly through the forest. Very few rocks lurk below the snow surface, so don't be afraid to ski here in less than ideal snow conditions. For an absolutely phenomenal view of Whiteface Mountain, visitors can head past the Coniferous trail and right to the top of the All-In Trail. This is the longest trail in trail n the network and you should give yourself at least an hour for a round trip visit in the snow. Due to the steep climb and descent this trail should only be considered by expert skiers. A pair of snowshoes would yield a great experience for the widest variety of winter visitors.
Any pair of cross country skis would be appropriate equipment for the Make Believe Trail or any of the more moderate terrain in the network. Skiers choosing to go to the top of the All In or Good Luck Trails should be sure to bring along skis with metal edges. The best maps available for the network are actually the Mountain Bike Maps created by the members of the Barkeater Trails Alliance. Pop into a local bike shop to pick one up.
It may be officially Spring today, but it's definitely still ski season in the Whiteface Region. Don't put those skis away just yet.