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Why Garnet Hill Is One of the Best Cross-Country Ski Areas in the Northeast

Posted in Winter at Garnet Hill

Are you ready to strap on your skis and glide into a winter wonderland? Come to Garnet Hill Lodge and discover some of the best cross-country skiing in the Northeast. Our Adirondack mountain resort features the perfect combination of ski and snowshoe trails, lessons from PSIA-certified instructors, and après-ski dining. Find out more about what makes Garnet Hill special below, including a full Q&A with our instructors.

cross country skier in an orange jacket

Escape to the ADK and Traverse Miles of Impeccably Groomed Trails

When it comes to cross-country skiing, our property in North River has everything you need and more for a memorable outdoor adventure – starting with the snow! One of the highlights of winter at Garnet Hill is that we receive plentiful snowfall and use top-notch grooming equipment to create set tracks and skating lanes. For the convenience of our lodging guests and day users, the trailheads begin right outside the main lodge and ski shop.

Beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers will have a fantastic time exploring our 55+ kilometer trail network. You can follow a gentle loop around the lodge, head into the forest toward our popular Sugar House, or even ski down to a frozen Thirteenth Lake. A wide array of trails await, and guests can tackle different routes during each visit.

groomed ski trails

Want to try snowshoeing too? Check out our extensive snowshoe trail system, which includes six unique routes that intertwine with the cross-country ski trails. Slow things down for an hour or two and have fun snowshoeing at your own pace.

three snowshoers

Ski and snowshoe rentals are available, and trail passes are complimentary for overnight guests, while other visitors are welcome to purchase a day or season pass. We take pride in offering affordable pricing and a casual experience that families, friends, and skiers of all skill levels can enjoy.

Sign Up for a Lesson With One of Our PSIA-Certified Instructors

ski instructor and skiers

Are you interested in learning more about cross-country skiing and improving your skills? We offer a full range of lessons at our Ski School, including all types of Nordic skiing. Our Ski School is led by 7 experienced instructors who are certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America, the world’s largest organization dedicated to teaching people how to ski.

Each one of our instructors is passionate about skiing, and their areas of expertise include everything from classic skiing to skate skiing, backcountry skiing, and telemark skiing. A beginner group lesson is a great option for first-time skiers, and our other lessons are designed to help you master the sport.

To learn more about some of our instructors and their backgrounds, read our Q&A with them at the end of this blog post!

Check out our Ski School lessons and pricing >>

Celebrate a Successful Ski Trip at the Log House Restaurant

plates of food on a table

After a fun day on the trails, the best way to wind down at Garnet Hill is with a trip to our on-site restaurant – the Log House Restaurant. Our restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner, and guests can look forward to a fantastic selection of American dishes prepared with an Adirondack twist, such as the Elk Burger and the Switchback Braised Venison Loin.

We also have plenty of beers and wines to choose from so you can sip and celebrate another successful adventure. Dining reservations must be made in advance, and takeout service is available.

Plan Your Next Adirondack Winter Getaway

bed in a lodge room

Cross-country skiing is underway at Garnet Hill Lodge, so start planning your next trip. You can book a cozy room at the lodge and enjoy complimentary trail passes, or come for the day for a ski lesson or outdoor adventure in the trail network. We hope to see you here this winter!

Find out more about our comfortable accommodations >>

Further Reading: Meet 5 of Our Garnet Hill Ski Instructors

Below, we’ve shared some questions and answers with 5 of our 7 PSIA-certified ski instructors here at Garnet Hill so you can learn more about them. Our team includes Michele Pearsall, Dave Semo, Patrick Murray, Julie West, and Tim Ememrick (all featured in the Q&A), as well as Kristen Cartwright (Level 1 Nordic) and Kate Kuklinski (Level 1 Nordic, Level 2 Snowboarding).

Q&A With Michele Pearsall:

1. When did you first discover your passion for cross-country skiing?

I have cross-country skied since high school and served as an Alpine instructor at a Nordic trail system while in high school and college; I was also often asked to teach Nordic classes.

Nordic is just one of my interests. First was Alpine, then later learning how to tele-ski, adding skate skiing to the mix as well as getting out into the backcountry. As I have gotten older, I actually prefer the peace and solitude of cross-country and backcountry skiing. It is also the perfect way to stay cardiovascularly fit.

2. What do you enjoy most about skiing?

There is always something new to learn when it comes to technique, the fitness aspect, social aspect, and the beauty of the trails.

3. How did you decide to become a PSIA-certified ski instructor?

During my undergraduate studies in Recreational Management, I did an internship at Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont. I worked part of the time in the Ski School and then became director of children’s programs, and while doing this became interested in PSIA (our director was a PSIA examiner, Tom Petrick).

Three years ago, I switched from Alpine instructing and coaching for NYSEF to the Nordic Center at Gore, and then I decided it was time to work toward my PSIA certs in Nordic. As of January 2022, I am now a Level 2 Alpine and Level 2 Nordic.

Like anything the more you know, the more you realize how much you need to learn. At Garnet Hill I recognized the value of PSIA as a professional. I also think that it is always good to continue your education and to become a better teacher by doing so.

4. When did you learn about Garnet Hill Lodge, and what year did you become one of our ski instructors?

I came to Garnet Lodge about 18 years ago and skied here. I took my first tele-ski lesson from Julie West when I was teaching my husband how to Alpine ski and wanted a challenge. I started teaching here last year when I became the manager.

5. Do you specialize in a particular type of skiing, or do you teach a variety of lessons?

My highest skill area is in Alpine, but as I said above I can ski classic, skate, and backcountry. I can teach most lessons but I am not certified as a telemark instructor.

6. What’s your favorite part about cross-country skiing at Garnet Hill?

The trail system is diverse and the scenery is beautiful. The snow typically is so much better because we are at a higher elevation than much of the area.

Q&A With Dave Semo:

1. What do you enjoy most about skiing?

As a PSIA-certified Level 3 Alpine instructor, I really appreciate the change of pace and love the quieter solitude of cross-country skiing. I love the exercise and ability to escape the busy resort area to get into the woods.

2. How did you decide to become a PSIA-certified ski instructor?

After I retired I decided I wanted to balance my Alpine experience with Nordic. Last year I received my Level 1 Nordic and really enjoyed it.

3. When did you learn about Garnet Hill Lodge, and what year did you become one of our ski instructors?

I knew about Garnet Hill over the years. After talking with Patrick and Michele I decided it would be great to be part of the team. I became an instructor last winter, 2020-2021.

4. Do you specialize in a particular type of skiing, or do you teach a variety of lessons?

Not really. I’m still working on all the styles and enjoy them all.

5. What’s your favorite part about cross-country skiing at Garnet Hill?

There is a great team working there and the natural beauty of the area.

Q&A With Patrick Murray:

1. When did you first discover your passion for cross-country skiing?

Ten years ago.

2. What do you enjoy most about skiing?

I love the outdoors, winter, and interaction with other people!

3. How did you decide to become a PSIA-certified ski instructor?

I was teaching in Vail and they have a strong PSIA culture, as does Gore Mountain. You become Alpine certified first, and my certification includes Associates Western Division (Alpine), Level II Eastern (Alpine), and Level I (Nordic).

4. When did you learn about Garnet Hill Lodge, and what year did you become one of our ski instructors?

Have known about Garnet Hill since 2002 when I first moved here, and began instructing here in 2014.

5. Do you specialize in a particular type of skiing, or do you teach a variety of lessons?

YES! I specialize in Classic (traditional beginners). I was named 2008 Instructor of the Year at Gore Mountain!

Q&A With Julie West:

1. When did you first discover your passion for cross-country skiing?

Ever since I first skied in high school and on college outing club trips, I’ve loved it. OK, so yeah, that was 40+ years ago…

2. What do you enjoy most about skiing?

I don’t even know how to answer that question. The exercise, the meditative experience of it, being outdoors, gliding…working on technique, and enjoying so much being a master at it but always still trying to improve.

3. How did you decide to become a PSIA-certified ski instructor?

Working at Garnet Hill in 1993 or so, it was the thing to do! Larry Wilke (local legend) was the ski school director at the time, and he was a great mentor and wanted me to get good at teaching and join PSIA (which helps me get better at teaching), because he was grooming me, more or less, to take over for him as ski school director.

4. Do you specialize in a particular type of skiing, or do you teach a variety of lessons?

All of it. Classic skiing, skate skiing, backcountry skiing, adults, kids, brand new beginners to advanced. I teach it all. I enjoy the variety. Also I coach high school racers.

5. What’s your favorite part about cross-country skiing at Garnet Hill?

The fact that you don’t have to go far to get away from the crowds, the variety of trails, the lake when it’s good. Meeting people on the trail. (Oh, was I just supposed to choose one?)

6. What do you enjoy about teaching?

It is so incredibly rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of students. We sell fun, and that is usually accomplished. But more than that, taking a terrified person and helping them get to the point where they can do a snowplow on a gentle slope – it’s a huge accomplishment and so rewarding! Or taking someone who has skied for decades and showing them how they can take their technique to the next level – that turns it into an entirely different sport for them!

7. What is it about PSIA that you find helps you the most?

I am on the PSIA educational staff, meaning I teach instructor clinics. Being part of this team helps me to understand the sport and all of its evolution better. Continually working on ways to reach people of all types through learning progressions is PSIA’s signature ideal. This includes beginner and advanced progressions, classic, and skate. Knowing how to look at challenges a student has, figure out the root cause, and work with that is what PSIA teaches its instructors, and it truly makes a good teacher. People skills and developing relationships are as important.

Being a good skier does not necessarily mean you are a good teacher. It’s just so wonderful to help people negotiate the trails safely and with a smile and a memorable experience to take home with them!

Q&A With Tim Ememrick:

1. When did you first discover your passion for cross-country skiing?

I fell in love with cross-country skiing as a teenager in my town’s park south of Buffalo, NY.

2. What do you enjoy most about skiing?

I love the mind-body connection skiing requires and being outside in the winter.

3. How did you decide to become a PSIA-certified ski instructor?

My dad was an alpine ski patroller so I grew up knocking around ski areas. I was largely self-taught as a Nordic and tele-skier and decided there’s no better way to learn than through teaching.

4. When did you learn about Garnet Hill Lodge, and what year did you become one of our ski instructors?

I discovered GHL as a hiking guide through my work with Adirondack Mountain and Stream Outfitters in Olmstedville. This is my first year working with GHL on snow.

5. Do you specialize in a particular type of skiing, or do you teach a variety of lessons?

I’m certified as a cross-country instructor but I’m really a backcountry guide at heart. My favorite type of cross-country skiing is out of the resort on the state trails, seasonal roads, lakes, and slides. Wide skis, chunky boots, metal edges, and full backpacks are the name of my game.

6. What’s your favorite part about cross-country skiing at Garnet Hill?

To me Garnet Hill Lodge is a slice of pure ADK life. Classic buildings, great food, amazing snow, miles and miles of pristine trails, views for days, deep cultural roots… it’s got a little bit of everything.

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Garnet Hill Lodge

Garnet Hill Lodge