Beginning with the 2022-2023 winter season, the Jenkins Mountain Open Woods Ski Zone is open to backcountry skiers!
This facility is located at the Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC), located on NY 30 north of Saranac Lake. The early reports are favorable; the trails so far have been attracting 6 to 10 skiers a day, with people making multiple runs. These are backcountry ski trails intended for people with advanced experience levels, in sharp contrast to the groomed cross-country and snowshoe trails the VIC is otherwise famous for.
The Jenkins Mountain Open Woods Ski Zone was developed in partnership with several organizations, including the Paul Smiths VIC, Adirondack Wilderness Advocates, Adirondack Wild, and the Adirondack Powder Skier Association. Members of these groups began meeting in 2021 to scout the terrain and to determine the management criteria. After some initial trail clearing at the end of that year, a few trial downhill runs occurred early in 2022 before the trails were opened to the public.
For skiers, these trails represent the first officially-maintained backcountry ski zone in the Adirondacks outside of Gore and Whiteface. In our face-to-face conversations with a variety of skiers, the interest in this type of facility is high despite the expert skill levels required. Hopefully plenty of people will turn out to make these trails a success.
For AWA, a wilderness advocacy organization, our primary interest is how this ski zone will serve as a model for the Visitor Use Management (VUM) system. In the past state land managers have been reluctant to adopt VUM for high-traffic places such as the High Peaks Wilderness, therefore Jenkins Mountain is serving as a pilot program that may someday have implications well beyond Paul Smiths.
If you are interested in visiting Jenkins Mountain, please note the following:
- These trails are for skiing only. There is no hiker access to the summit.
- Trail passes are required.
- All trails are one-directional, with a yellow-marked skin track and several red-marked downhill runs.