New York

10 Best Spots for Snowshoeing in Upstate New York

by Holly Riddle
Updated December 05, 2022

Snowshoeing Cascade Mountain. Photo: Rafael Novais

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Upstate New York is filled with outdoor adventure aplenty — and not just in the summer. The Catskills, Finger Lakes and Adirondacks each offer snowshoeing opportunities in spades.

You can find ample downhill skiing opportunities in the Catskills and Adirondacks, and cross-country skiing throughout the state. Snow-covered villages and cozy cabins await in the mountains, idyllic and charming. The ski apres culture is top-notch and, if you’re lucky, you might just be able to snag a ride on a dog sled, criss-crossing its way over the state’s many frozen ponds and lakes.

But skiing and sightseeing aren’t your only options during a winter trip to Upstate New York. Snowshoeing is also a popular hobby. If you don’t have your own pair of snowshoes, you can easily rent them at a sports outfitter in one of the mountain towns, before heading out on one of the trails.

And, if you’ve never even tried snowshoeing before, the activity is a fun one that’s accessible to most, providing a surprisingly thorough workout and an easy way to see the backcountry when snow drifts can pile up five feet deep or more.

Can’t wait to strap on your snowshoes and hit the trails? Here are the 10 best spots for snowshoeing in Upstate New York.

1. Saratoga Spa State Park

Saratoga Spa State Park ny
Photo: Katie Dobies

Why you should go: A quick trip from NYC, with lots of amenities

  • Nearest Town: Saratoga Springs
  • Distance: 12 miles of trails in total

Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs offers tons of amenities for visitors, including in the winter. The national historic landmark welcomes snowshoers and cross-country skiers during the snowy months and even rents out snowshoeing equipment, so you just have to show up and enjoy.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to catch a snowshoeing class, to teach you the basics — though, honestly, it’s not that hard. You’ll be able to get the hang of it quickly!

If there’s someone in your traveling party who’s not too keen on outdoor adventure, especially during the frigid winter, they’ll appreciate the state park’s other attractions, indoors, such as the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Spa Little Theater, the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, the Gideon Putnam Resort and Roosevelt Baths and Spa.

Related read10 Best Hikes in Upstate New York

2. St. Regis Mountain

St. Regis Mountain NY
Photo: Saranaclake.com

Why you should go: Big views for little effort

  • Nearest Town: Paul Smiths
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,250 feet

St. Regis Mountain is an excellent snow-shoeing destination in the Adirondacks. While this isn’t one of the region’s High Peaks, St. Regis does offer amazing views for the relatively small distance you’ll need to cover, as well as the relatively tame elevation gain. Even newer hikers and snowshoers should be able to take on this trail.

The few steep spots make the trail accessible by snowshoe in the winter and, at the top of the trail, you’ll be treated to fire tower views and a spacious summit where you can spread out, relax a little and maybe cook up some lunch or just a hot cup of coffee.

Related read10 Beautiful Mountain Resorts in the Adirondacks

3. The Trapps, Coxing and Millbrook Ridge Trail Loop

 

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Why you should go: A popular destination with dedicated snowshoeing trails

  • Nearest Town: New Paltz
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 974 feet

Mohonk Preserve is a popular winter sports destination, for both snowshoers and cross-country skiers. One of the favorite trails for snowshoeing is the Trapps, Coxing and Millbrook Ridge Trail Loop, which is lengthy, but easy enough that it generally only takes several hours to complete.

Do note that trail access does come with a fee and there are no equipment rentals on-site. However, you can access the trail via Mohonk Mountain House, which is worth your consideration if you’re looking for a hotel in the area. A favorited resort for decades, Mohonk Mountain House is known as a Victorian castle resort and a stay includes a range of guided outdoor activities.

Related read: 12 Best Spots to See New York’s Fall Foliage

4. The Catskill Scenic Trail

 

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Why you should go: A rails-to-trails destination ideal for a leisurely trip

  • Nearest Town: Bloomville
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 24.9 miles in total
  • Elevation Gain: 780 feet

The rails-to-trails-style Catskill Scenic Trail is nearly 25 miles long, but you hardly have to travel the entire length of the trail in order to enjoy it.

Popular for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling during the winter months, the trail is an ideal fit for families who want a snowshoeing excursion suitable for smaller adventurers, or just for those who want a more leisurely experience for their first snowshoe outing.

The trail passes through farms and forests, mountain valleys and riverbanks, offering plenty of views along the way.

Related read12 Best Spots to See Fall Foliage in the Catskills

5. Montezuma Audubon Center

Why you should go: A wildlife refuge with free entry and snowshoe rentals

  • Nearest Town: Savannah
  • Distance: 30 miles of trails in total

The Montezuma Audubon Center offers 50,000 acres of wetlands and 30 miles of trails, along with two visitor centers. While the center is mostly known as a wildlife refuge and as Audubon’s “first globally significant Important Bird Area,” it’s also a nice spot to enjoy both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, every day during the winter, for free.

Plus, you can rent your snowshoes on-site and sign up for a guided snowshoe excursion.

Related read10 Beautiful Cabin Rentals in the Finger Lakes, New York

6. Cascade Mountain

Cascade Mountain NY
Photo: Jayne Lipkovich

Why you should go: Up your snowshoeing skills with this hike that’s a challenge

  • Nearest Town: Keene
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,902 feet

Okay, so this hike won’t be a challenge for accomplished and experienced snowshoers. They’ll find that this mountain — which is considered one of the easiest High Peak mountains to summit in the Adirondacks during the summer months — is a worthwhile hike on the shorter side, offering views for days.

However, for those beginner snowshoers, this trail will provide a nice challenge, but not so much of a challenge that you’re tempted to turn around mid-trail and hoof it back to the car.

The trail up Cascade Mountain is popular, so consider visiting during the week. Or, if you’re familiar with night hiking, consider arriving in the wee hours of the morning to catch the sunrise from the top. You’ll (most likely) have it all to yourself.

Related read8 Amazing Glamping Spots in the Adirondacks

7. Cayuga Nature Center

Why you should go: Conveniently located and lots to do beyond snowshoeing

  • Nearest Town: Ithaca
  • Distance: 5 miles in total

Cayuga Nature Center in Ithaca is not far from the city center at all, making it an excellent choice for a quick visit if you’re planning a more urban trip, but still want to fit in a little outdoor adventure.

Additionally, while the nature center does have five total miles of trail that are accessible to snowshoers, it also offers a range of family-friendly and interesting winter programming and activities that are worth adding to your itinerary too.

Wintertime programming includes maple tapping and winter ecology programs for the kids, and you’ll find permanent exhibits in the nature center, alongside the center’s animal ambassadors, including two foxes and a friendly great horned owl.

Related read10 Best Hikes in the Finger Lakes for Adventure in the Gorges

8. Higley Flow State Park

 

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Why you should go: A favorite winter destination in the Adirondack foothills

  • Nearest Town: Colton

Higley Flow State Park attracts locals and visitors alike with its plentiful wintertime activities, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice fishing.

The heavily wooded trails are picturesque after a fresh snowfall and you’ll find a range of trails to choose from, though all are rated as easy, despite the differing lengths, from 1.3 to 4 miles.

Related read10 Enticingly Romantic Getaways in New York State

9. Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls State Park
Photo: Jonathan Cohen

Why you should go: See this famed New York waterfall in the winter

  • Nearest town: Trumansburg

There’s nothing quite like seeing a mammoth waterfall surrounded by snow and ice. If you can’t make it to Niagara this winter, see the next best thing at Taughannock Falls State Park, where Taughannock Falls stands proud as the tallest free-falling waterfall in the entire East.

Beyond snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, the park also offers ice skating during the winter.

Do note that parts of the park are closed during the winter, including some of the bottom parts of the park’s rim trail. The base trail is intermittently closed due to ice. However, you can still find gorgeous views even with closures.

For a special way to start your year on the right snowshoe, join the park’s annual First Day Hike, every Jan. 1. Guided hikes are also available the first Saturday of each month.

Related read9 Incredible Cabins with Hot Tubs in Upstate New York

10. Mt. Van Hoevenberg

 

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Why you should go: Wintertime fun with an Olympic heritage

  • Nearest Town: Lake Placid
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 892 feet

If you’re in the Lake Placid area this winter, you can’t pass up the opportunity to explore the area’s Olympics heritage — like at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, one of the area’s Olympic legacy sites that took part in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

You’ll find bobsledding and cross-country skiing occurring during the winter, and maybe even spot a few Olympic hopefuls practicing, but you can also take to the namesake mountain’s trail, which is relatively easy (it’s filled with switchbacks) for the Adirondack region. A quick hike with your trusty snowshoes will reveal stellar views of the surrounding mountains from the summit.

Related read: 6 Amazing Waterfalls in The Adirondacks You Don’t Want to Miss

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