Cross-country skiers and snowshoers have long known that the Paul Smith’s College VIC gets some of the heaviest snowfall in the region. This winter, they will have even more terrain to explore. “We’ve made some significant upgrades,” said Brian McDonnell, the VIC’s director. “We’ve almost doubled the size of the trail system, and we now have trails to suit both classic and skate skiers.” A groomer purchased by Paul Smith’s College last winter will be used to maintain the expanded trail network.
Since the college acquired the VIC from the state in January, it has expended significant resources to make improvements to the building and grounds. To help defray the cost of the trail improvements and the purchase of grooming equipment, VIC patrons will be required to purchase a day or season pass to the trails. Access to the VIC trails will remain free during the non-winter months. “We’re trying to improve the trail system for the community, but we need to cover our expenses,” McDonnell said. “We’re on a five-year plan to make the VIC self-sustaining.”
Three categories of trails, for snowshoeing, classic and skate skiing, will be maintained and marked for daily use from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Classic-ski trails will typically be groomed 4 feet wide with a track for both snowshoeing and classic skiing, while skating ski trails will be cut 7 to 10 feet wide and groomed to accommodate both skate and classic skiers. Snowshoe trails will be packed primarily for snowshoeing but may also be skied on when conditions permit.
Some trails will also be designated for skijoring, or dog-drawn skiing. Leashed dogs are allowed on the snowshoe trails at anytime, as well.
Trail users will be asked to register at the visitor’s building. Trails will be monitored by a trained volunteer first-aid ski patrol, and a courtesy patrol to assist people with directions.
McDonnell said the trail network is likely to be expanded next year. The VIC staff has scouted a network of potential trails that could be added to the nature center, which covers nearly 3,000 acres. “This is a transitional year, and future expansion will depend on how much interest we have from the community for the varied ski-trail network,” McDonnell said.
Under 6 years old: Free, Child (6-17): $5
Adult (18-64): $10, Senior (65+): $5
Current Paul Smith’s faculty, staff and alumni: $5
Current Paul Smith’s students: Free, Other college students: $5
Groups of 10 or more: $8 each
Under 6 years old: Free, Child (6-17): $50
Adult (18-64): $75, Senior (65+): $ 50
Current Paul Smith’s faculty, staff and alumni: $50
Current Paul Smith’s students: Free, Other college students: $50
Family: $150 (Buy two adult season passes and children under 18 who live in the household ski free.)
Guest pass: Add an additional $25 to any season pass and bring a guest.
Individual day pass: $5
Individual season pass: $50
Additionally, the VIC will rent cross-country skis for $25 a day and snowshoes for $15. Trail fees will be included in the cost of the rental.
Trail pass holders will be eligible for discounts on weekend events and program at the VIC, including bird watching walks; natural-history themed walks and events; and backcountry snowshoeing led by VIC staff up the Adirondack Low Peaks. Several other weekend programs are in the works.
For more information, call the Paul Smith’s College VIC at (518) 327-6241, or check the Paul Smith’s College website for our calendar of events.