Don’t let the lack of skis in the above photo scare you.  Newt (seen above) and Walter (proprietor/owner) assure me their Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area has plenty to rent: skis, poles, and shoes for all abilities.   They even have wax to borrow and snowshoes to consider.  The classic sport is undergoing somewhat of a Renaissance during the pandemic.

Not far from Poestenkill, no more than a 30-minute drive east from Albany, Walter tells me that his business has been in operation since 1982.    He has nurtured the expansive foothold in the Rensselaer Plateau into a cross-country skiers wonderland.

Nola skied here when it first opened.  A labyrinth of loops entice skiers to journey beyond their comfort level; from the Northern Zone across Plank Road to the Southern Zone where the topography of Christmas trees is denser.

It’s before noon on a Friday when we set off into this beautiful rural backcountry, gliding alongside babbling brooks and snow-covered pines.   There are miles of gentle, benign terrain.  There are also miles of more challenging options.   All are cleared marked by color-coded symbols nailed to trees.

My feet and hands were numb at the start so I picked up the pace.  I was feeling cold because visitors are encouraged to change into their gear at their cars rather than inside the base lodge.

Their bathrooms are always open but understandably, it’s best to make it quick.   With that in mind, be sure to “boot up” at home before you arrive.

Given the sheer size of Pineridge, perhaps hundreds of acres, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife: moose, deer, even a bear would be nice.   A fellow skier that lives near Dyken Pond admitted she’s even seen a bobcat.

Walter later told me that the number of moose sightings on his land has dwindled significantly in the last 40 years.  A disease known as brain worm or chronic wasting sickness infects the animal’s neurological system and sometimes the DEC has no choice but to euthanize.

Descending down the Crossings trail, a blurry object whisked by us at top speed kicking up a cloud of dust-like snow.   We all let out a little “yelp” in surprise!

No, this wasn’t a “moose on the loose,” merely a mortal getting in his daily exercise routine.  With the conditions and coverage as good as this week, this special spot is a mecca for all abilities.

Pineridge crosscountry ski area

 

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