Wow!” I thought to myself as we gazed off the top of Prospect Mountain and up along historic Lake George receding into the distance. This is better than I’d heard. In fact, it just might be the best scenic view I’ve seen anywhere in eastern North America.
Warren County, New York, is well-known for the resort Village of Lake George and its nearly 50-year-old Winter Carnival that runs every weekend through the heart of the winter. But as my touring buddy Ted Perkins and I discovered, Warren County is so much more than the historic lake and the Carnival events. And it seemed like I was saying “wow” almost every time I turned around. This area is that impressive.
The “Wows” Start Early
Our visit began by checking in at the Holiday Inn Lake George-Turf. This luxurious property provided our first “wows” with their extensive amenities that included a fine restaurant on the premises and a 32-inch plasma TV, refrigerator and microwave oven in every room. Complimentary bottled water and newspaper every day further set this outstanding property apart from the usual snowmobile lodging.
We hit the trail on a Tuesday morning with South Warren Snowmobile Club leaders Mike Fazio, Mike Dalaba and Matt Plummer. The six-mile ride up Prospect Mountain begins just a few hundred yards from the Holiday Inn, and the club grooms this wide, easy trail daily in season. Standing atop the 2,205-foot summit allows views up to 100 miles if the weather is cooperative, with the best vantage point providing a panorama of about 270 degrees.
From there we followed Fazio west on an immaculately groomed South Warren section of NY Corridor Trail 4 over Hickory Mountain and down to the Hudson River where we rendezvoused with Doug Needham and James “Cork” Nester of the Thurman Connection club.
Needham led the group farther west on some narrow and twisty but well-groomed woods trails, then circled back to the river through “Sun Canyon.”
After a trail break, we turned north on the Upper Hudson River Railroad (UHRR) rail trail along the rocky northern reaches of one of America’s most historic rivers. The rails are still down but the deep snow is groomed over them to provide a wide, flat surface for fast cruising along the half-frozen waterway. Sunrays playing off the white water gave this run a scenic “wow” factor that is seldom experienced on snowmobile trails.
Arriving in North Creek, at the northern end of the county, we stopped at the Copperfield Inn for lunch in their recently remodeled Trapper’s Tavern. The black bean and chicken soup really hit the spot, and my turkey club sandwich was simply outstanding. And a huge “wow.”
The afternoon run took us back to the southern end of the County, again along the Hudson River in places, all the way to Lake Luzerne where we hit the Waterhouse Restaurant for dinner. Owner Dan Waterhouse provided another “wow” with overflowing plates of appetizers that included not just standards like chicken wings but also blackened shrimp, calamari and other culinary treats not normally seen in snowmobile hangouts. Consequently, there wasn’t a lot of room left for the outstanding dinner.
The next day we trailered up to the North Warren Trailblazers clubhouse in Chestertown. One of the nicest clubhouses we’ve yet seen in the Empire State, its location on Corridor Trail 8C made it easy to hit the trail with club leaders Tom Hill, Bryan Frazier and Chris Marinelli.
Hill conducted us through intimate but immaculately groomed woods trails, broken up by a couple of blasts on Brant Lake, to visit isolated club favorite Round Pond and then Riding Hy Ranch Resort. There are some very nice scenic views on these trails, too, and we also found a pond-side tree that was gnawed half way through by beavers.
After a welcome opportunity to blow out the carbon on Loon Lake, we stopped at O. P. Frederick’s Restaurant for an absolutely awesome open-faced double steak sandwich lunch. And I couldn’t help noticing that even snowmobile hangouts in this area have wine lists on the table, just one more “wow” here in Warren County.
After lunch, it was up on top of neighboring Kipp Mountain for another fabulous scenic view of Loon Lake on one side and Schroon Lake on the other. We headed back to the clubhouse and loaded up again, with a short but very satisfying trail day behind us.
Thursday morning brought a couple of inches of welcome new snow. We set out with Mike Dalaba and several other South Warren club members to see their well-groomed trail system. Fresh snow clinging to the mix of evergreens, white birches and other deciduous trees along the trails made this another very scenic day.
One of the highlights was a stop at the Bear Slides, a nice little downhill creek run located just a couple of miles off one of the secondary trails. There were numerous deer in this area, just part of the wildlife sightings that we enjoyed on our visit to Warren County. We spotted wild turkeys, hawks and numerous smaller birds and animals, and eagles can be seen here, too, sometimes in abundance.
Dalaba then took us to yet another gorgeous scenic overlook at the far reaches of a dead-end trail. After pausing to enjoy the view for a while, it was time to head back into Lake George for lunch at The Garrison, yet another great snowmobiler hangout at the south end of the lake.
Our afternoon ride took us back through the tree-lined South Warren trails again, ending at Ciro’s Restaurant in Lake Vanare. Another strong supporter of the South Warren club, Ciro’s is a home away from home for tired and hungry snow riders. The addictive horseradish cheese on the bar provoked a “Wow, this stuff is great” remark. And after another impressive dinner, Mark Ladu led our final night ride back to the hotel.
After three days in Warren County, we came away absolutely “wowed” by the Adirondack scenery, the well-marked and well-manicured trails, the welcoming atmosphere of area businesses, and the extensive repertoire and portion sizes at the restaurants. If you’ve never ridden here, put Warren County on your snowmobile vacation list so you, too, can get “wowed” by all the Lake George region has to offer. You won’t be sorry.
Warren County Snowmobile Clubs:
South Warren Snowmobile Club
Lake Luzerne, N.Y.
snow phone: 518/696-3152
Northern Warren Trailblazers
snow phone: 518/494-0113
snow phone: 518/623-4050
At A Glance: Warren County / Lake George Region
Location: Southeastern Adirondack Mountains of northern New York
Elevation: 70 to 3,560 feet above sea level
Average annual snowfall: 75 inches
Winter temperature range: Sub-zero to above freezing
Riding season: Mid-December to end of March (UHRR rail trail opens January 1)
Trail pass: None. New York State sled registration and insurance required in advance
Trails: Over 300 miles regularly groomed, with more occasionally or non-groomed trails
Trail condition reports: On club snow phones and websites; also on local radio stations
Grooming: Four snowmobile clubs with nine heavy and three light groomers
Support services: Club trail maps; numerous trailhead parking lots; good variety of lodging properties and restaurants; some trail-accessible gas stations; franchised and aftermarket dealerships; some rental sleds available; souvenir shopping
Highway access: North on Interstate 87 (“the Northway”) from Albany, New York
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Warren County Tourism Department
1340 State Route 9
Lake George, NY 12845-9803
800/365-1050, extension 5100
Holiday Inn Turf
P.O. Box 231
Route 9, Canada Street
Lake George, NY 12845
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (for snowmobile registration) NYS non-resident call center 518/473-5595 • www.nysdmv.com