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Shoulder season suggestions

November 15, 2017
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Getting outdoors this time of year can be tricky. There's not enough snow at low elevations, but the High Peaks are dangerously cold and winter-like. It could be sunny and warm or overcast and cold. Snow, rain and sleet are all in the mix.

But that doesn't mean you should hole up and ride it out until it's full-blown ski season. There are a number of locations around the Tri-Lakes that offer relatively flat, close-to-the-road excursions that can be as long or short, as the weather and lack of daylight allow.


Article Photos

Catherine Bishop and Russ Roberts, of Ottawa, enjoy a weekday hike with their dog Spookie on the Heaven Hill trails in Lake Placid.
News photo — Justin A. Levine

Heaven Hill

Perhaps one of the best spots to get out to, whether it's in hiking shoes, snowshoes or on skis, is the Heaven Hill trails on Bear Cub Lane in Lake Placid. The Heaven Hill trails are located on the property of Uihlein Foundation, which opened the trails to the public several years ago.

Human-powered pursuits of all kinds are welcome, from walking to mountain biking. Dogs are also allowed as long as they're under control and the owner cleans up after them. There are even complimentary bags to clean up the dog doo.

The Heaven Hill trails offer a wide variety of distances, although the terrain is somewhat uniform. It's pleasantly flat, making for a good spot to take kids, strollers or people who wouldn't go hike a mountain.

From the parking area, hikers can either go left or right. Generally, to the left is the Old Orchard Loop and the Big Field Loop. Together, these two loops make for a nice, nearly 2-mile walk that goes through old farm fields and around the edges of an old orchard. The apple trees were bard in mid-November, but the views from the orchard of the surrounding mountains and High Peaks more than made up for the flat fall color scheme.

There is a map of the trails at the welcome kiosk or online, and with such a large number of loops and trails, Heaven Hill offers maximum custom-ability.


Henry's Woods

For those looking for a little more adventure or elevation gain, Henry's Woods - also on Bear Cub Lane - can provide a little more excitement.

With several miles of trails, Henry's Woods - also owned by the Uihlein Foundation - can provide a wider range of experiences for hikers and snowshoers. The same rules apply at Henry's Woods as at Heaven Hill.

Nestled on more than 200 acres of forest, the trails at Henry's Woods provide more than four miles of hiking. From the relatively easy loop trail to the steeper and more difficult Rocky Knob trail, there's a little something for everyone here.

The Rocky Knob trail provides the most difficult experience at the property, but also gives hikers views of Lake Placid and the surrounding mountains.

"Many interesting turns and twists lead to several magnificent views near the summit," the foundation says of the Rocky Knob trail. Henry's Woods has more than 4 miles of trails, and loops can be combined for a variety of distances.


Bloomingdale Bog Trail

The former railroad bed that stretches from just outside the village of Saranac Lake out to Onchiota and beyond is a favorite of locals looking to get out for a little while. There's certainly not enough snow to worry about snowmobiles on the bog trail yet, so skiers could get a jump on the season without having to dodge motorized vehicles.

The bog trail has a couple of starting points, but the fact of the matter is that it's flat and straight. However, what the trail lacks in terrain it more than makes up for in chances for seeing wildlife and birds.

Gray jays and northern flickers, along with numerous species of warblers, all call the bog home, and this time of year could be especially productive as migrating birds spend a few days in the area. The bog trail is typically an out-and-back hike, so go as far as you want along the old rail bed.


Tupper Lake Golf Course

Although there's no snow on the ground yet, there's little doubt that we'll soon be covered in the white stuff. Tupper Lake works with a group of volunteers to groom cross-country ski trails at the golf course, but before then walkers and snowshoers are welcome.

The trail system is dog friendly and free, and can be enjoyed prior to grooming. The only caveat is that snowshoers, while welcome, should remain to the side of the groomed trails.

For a map of the trails in Tupper Lake, go to



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