The light from a brilliant full moon glistens on a snow-covered lake. A canopy of stars twinkles overhead as cross-country skiers glide across the frozen pond. A nearby campfire cuts through the chill of the crisp, invigorating night air.
It is a true Winter Wonderland moment. The type of moment that exemplifies what the winter months can provide in Fulton and Montgomery counties, a region that regularly receives more than 100 inches of snow each year.
“We have such a great area to take advantage of all these types of winter hobbies,” says Andy Heck, president of the Amsterdam-based outdoor recreation retailer Alpin Haus. “So people around here would rather get outside instead of sitting around inside all winter.”
Abundant outdoor activities are available at Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center, which celebrates its 35th winter season in 2013. The trail system, a highlight, stretches more than 30 miles and is separated between cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails.
Lapland was founded in 1978 by former U.S. Olympic cross-country skier Olavi Hirvonen, who continues to operate the center today with his wife, Ann. Olavi still personally grooms the trails on a daily basis.
“We try to give exemplary customer service, which is probably why we’re still around after 35 years,” Ann says.
The resort also offers several tubing and sledding hills, as well as ice skating on Lapland Lake. Three or four times each winter, the center is opened to the general public for full-moon skiing.
“Those are absolutely gorgeous,” says longtime area resident Mel Charles, owner of ADK Realty. “The snow lightens everything, so you don’t even need a headlamp. You can see all these spectacular stars. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.”
Downhill Skiing, Snowmobiling, Ice Fishing and Sledding
Royal Mountain Motocross and Ski Area transforms the hills and trails used by motorcycles during the summer into downhill ski courses in the winter.
"(Owner Jim Blaise) has expanded every year and put in more and more snow-making equipment,” Charles says. “He has made Royal Mountain a premier ski area in New York.”
Snowmobile trails cut across both Fulton and Montgomery counties, part of the state’s 8,000-mile Snowmobile Trail System. The various trails extend all the way to Canada, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
“There are so many snowmobile trails that everybody who lives here has one close to them,” Heck says.
The winter months also bring out the hardy souls who enjoy ice fishing. Caroga Lake is a popular spot, as is Great Sacandaga Lake, where the annual Walleye Challenge fishing tournament draws more than 1,500 participants.
For those who like the old-fashioned fun of simply grabbing a sled and sliding down a hill, Charles says there are several neighborhood sledding hills throughout the two counties, including at Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course in Caroga Lake.
“This is definitely a fun place to be if you like winter,” Charles says.
A place filled with winter wonder.
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