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Nordic Skating: Top Destinations
by Tim Neville
Nordic Skating: Top Destinations
Skating through The Narrows on Lake George
in New York's Adirondack Mountains
(Wessel Kok)
Often called New England's west coast, 125-mile-long Lake Champlain is the country's sixth largest lake. The bays of the lake tend to freeze much earlier than the Broad Lake (the main central portion of Champlain). You can often set out on the bays in December, though Broad Lake might not freeze until the end of January, if at all.

Burlington, Vermont, is the departure point of choice for frozen-lake forays onto Champlain. You can walk down to the lake from this city of 50,000, strap on the blades, and kick out a couple of miles to Juniper Island. There you can get off the ice and grab a bite to eat from your backpack or take a few laps around the island. It's only about a quarter-mile in diameter, so expect to do a loop in about ten minutes. Watch for ice formations that set up on the shores of this island, while waves and wind create sculptures worthy of a MoMA exhibit.

If you're looking for something a little more exploratory, find out if conditions allow for skating the seven-mile width of the lake. There, near the New York state line, you'll find the Four Brothers, a collection of small islands about 100 yards apart. Cormorants have colonized these islands, so be careful that your exploring doesn't disturb them.

Meanwhile, neighboring Lake George, at the southern New York end of Champlain, is another great, perhaps even wilder, wild-skating locale. The 30-mile lake, 60 miles north of Albany, features over 200 islands and sheer mountain walls that rise 2,000 feet up from the shoreline.


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Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Budget: $$
Season: December to March

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