Written by Megin Potter and originally appeared in SaratogaMama Magazine, Winter 2017/2018
It’s a long winter if you don’t get out and enjoy the snow.
New York State is home to the most ski areas in the country. Offering a variety of terrain and experiences, many are just about an hour drive away from Saratoga Springs. With so many options, introducing kids to the joys of outdoor recreation can be an easy and affordable family outing.
Whether you want a certified instructor or the opportunity to teach them yourself, enjoy cross-country skiing, snowboarding, or want to give downhill a try, there’s a ski area near you gearing up for another season of fun.
So, bundle up and get ready to feel the exhilaration of gliding through the crisp air—winter is here!
The Family Guide to Skiing in Saratoga County
- Gore Mountain, 793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek 518-251-2411
Gore Mountain is a family ski resort with 108 trails, 14 lifts, and six on-mountain dining options. Full-day, 2-hour, season-long, 6-week, holiday, adaptive, adult, and private lessons are available. Their first timers learn-to-ski one-day package includes a 90-minute lesson, rentals, and lift ticket for $79. Located just outside Saratoga County, Gore Mountain is well worth the drive!
- Maple Ski Ridge, 2725 Mariaville Road, Schenectady 518-381-4700
Maple Ski Ridge is a family-owned ski area, designed for skiers and riders of all ages and abilities. With 54 years of experience, their Snow Sports School professional instructors, and an official Burton Snowboards “Learn to Ride Center,” they’ve been rated a top spot to learn in this area. Afterschool lesson packages start at $70, or it’s $29 per day for lessons only. Adult evening lessons, walk-in lessons, and private lessons also are available.
- Royal Mountain, 3072 State Highway 10, Caroga Lake 518-835-6445
Offering 30 acres of skiable terrain, Royal Mountain has a newly expanded rustic ski lodge, additional snow-making capabilities, and more this year. Learn to ski or board group lesson, rentals, and an all-day ticket for the beginners’ area is $50. No appointment necessary.
- West Mountain, 59 West Mountain Road, Queensbury 518-636-3699
On more than 126 skiable acres, the terrain ranges from easy, gentle learning slopes to expert-level challenges. The lodge includes a restaurant and bar with excellent views of skiing and tubing. The West Mountain Snow Sports team of instructors offers daily, multi-week, private, and group lessons, in addition to hosting many local schools and group programs. Lessons begin at $40.
- Willard Mountain, 77 Intervale Road, Greenwich 518-692-7337
Tube, ski, or snowboard on 50 acres of skiable terrain, in a family-friendly rural landscape, then relax in the lodge and restaurant. The Learn-to-Ski $49 package includes rental equipment, learning center lift ticket, and up to three 1.5-hour lessons per visit. Available only on weekends and holiday weeks, ages 8+ years. Additional weekday lessons and packages are also available.
The Shenendehowa Nordic Club is a membership organization promoting cross country ski sport in the southern Saratoga County (NY) area. Club programs include a Bill Koch youth program; high school team boosters; family ski activities; introductory ski lessons; and affiliations with regional and national governing bodies.
The Friends of Cole’s Woods is a volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining and improving Cole’s Woods trails in Glens Falls/Queensbury. The group typically holds annual learn-to-ski program for kids at Cole’s Woods in Glens Falls. There also will be an adult learn-to-ski program offered as well.
- Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center, 139 Lapland Lake Road, Northville 518-863-4974
Founded by former Olympian Olavi Hirvonena, this facility is a touch of Finland in the Adirondacks. There’s a lodge, dining, miles of trails, tubing, skating, and cross-country skiing.
Other Winter Resources
- Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, 80 Scout Road, Gansevoort 518-450-0321
The groomed trails have set tracks for classic skiing and a rolled area for skate skiing and snowshoeing. The Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park has a nice selection of snowshoes and cross-country skis donated by Alpine Sport Center available for rental use at the park. Rentals are available on weekends beginning in January. The rental fee for non-members is $5; members can use snowshoes at no charge. Lessons are not currently available.
I SKI NY is once again offering their award-winning “Free for Kids Passport” program for third and fourth graders. The program allows a child to learn to ski or board for free at all participating ski areas and/or ski for free when an adult ticket is purchased. The program is free, but there is a small processing fee to enroll. Discounted lift ticket vouchers are also available.