No. 4 Snowshoe-friendly Nordic Center: Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center, Northville, N.Y.

Since 1978 Ann Hirvonen and her Finnish husband, Olavi, have been providing an unparalleled snowshoe experience for grateful guests at their award-winning Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center. Named after the northern-most region of Finland, where reindeer roam free and Santa Claus is rumored to reside, Lapland Lake inspires its guests to rediscover old-fashioned fun from cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to board games and campfire stories. Located on 200 acres in New York’s sprawling Adirondack Forest Preserve and showcasing 50 kilometers of meticulously marked and maintained trails, this lakeside resort is praised as a remote winter wonderland with Finnish flair.

A snowshoeing couple enjoying fresh snowfall at Lapland Lake.

A snowshoeing couple enjoying fresh snowfall at Lapland Lake.

As a former U.S. Olympic cross-country skier, Olavi’s dream was to create a Finnish-style ski destination where people could relax, connect with each other and with nature, and enjoy the great outdoors year round. He designed the trail system for the enjoyment of all ages and ability levels, with 12 kilometers designated just for snowshoeing. For three decades he has been personally attending to the almost daily grooming and maintenance of the unique, one-way trail routes, which ensure the most authentic backcountry experience. With a lower chance of passing other guests on the trails, there is a better chance of spotting signs of wildlife such as rabbit, deer, otter and possibly even bobcat tracks.

Divided into two groups, the snowshoe trails to the West of the lodge are popular for their scenic variety and more challenging terrain including steep hills, dense forest and deep snow. The trails to the East offer stunning views of the lake and more gentle terrain, making them ideal for novice snowshoers and nighttime excursions. It is on this side of the resort where the Hirvonen’s take guests for a nighttime trek after the full moon dinners, offered monthly during the winter season.  In addition to the full moon events, the resort offers several “Snowshoeing & Animal Tracking” tours throughout the season. Perfect for beginners, these tours include use of an animal tracking guide, a hot beverage and a set of rental snowshoes made by Havlick’s, a neighboring snowshoe maker located just down the road from Lapland Lake.

The lodge at Lapland Lake Nordic Center.

The lodge at Lapland Lake Nordic Center.

Although there are no televisions, Wi-Fi availability is limited to the main lodge, and cell phone service is basically non-existent, boredom is not an issue even for the most cyber-dependent folks. In addition to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, activities abound off the trails as well with snow tubing, ice skating and rides on the frozen Napa Kiikku, or pole swing, keeping energetic kids busy for hours. Board games, cards and books are also available at the lodge and in each of the rental tupas, or cottages.  A visit to pat the resident reindeer, Viima, is also a must for visitors of all ages.

Ann, a former school teacher, is a firm believer in the value of family time without the presence of electronics. “Those who stay with us have that rare experience of peace and quiet,” she says. “The quiet is so special…it’s a wonderful way to bond.” For her, there is nothing quite like hearing the crunch of snow underfoot and seeing the stars overhead, and she encourages her guests at Lapland Lake to find joy in these moments as well.

A snowy hike in the Adirondack woods.

A snowy hike in the Adirondack woods.

When the cold weather and fresh air cause your stomach to grumble you can swing by the Tuulen Tupa Grill where hot lunch is served daily. Sample some of Olavi’s traditional Finnish favorites like Kalakeitto, a creamy fish chowder, or LohilaatIkko, a salmon and potato casserole.  Dinner is also offered on Saturday evenings featuring dishes like crab stuffed cod, chicken Marsala and a Finnish platter consisting of meatballs, cabbage rolls and pickled vegetables. Wash it all down with a goblet of glogg, otherwise known as mulled wine. In addition, overnight guests may utilize the Grill’s catering services for breakfast and weeknight dinners.

The Hirvonen’s careful attention to detail and hands-on approach has earned Lapland Lake a plethora of awards, praise and return guests year after year. Describing the resort as one of the “last remaining refuges for human beings,” the Olavi’s are proud to welcome snow-lovers large and small to celebrate the cold weather like a true Laplander.

  • Pass Rates: $22 adults 18+, $20 youth ages 12-17 and 65+, $10 ages 6-11, Free for kids under 6 years of age and overnight guests. Half-day, season passes and group discounts also available.
  • Rental Equipment: $18 adults and youths ages 12+, $12 ages 6-11. Half day discounts available.
  • Pet Policy: No pets allowed on-site
  • Lodging: Cottages/tupas available for rent
  • Dining: Lunch served daily and dinner served on Saturday evenings only. Reservations required for special event dinners during full moons and holidays. Catering also available for overnight guests.

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  • Katie Hearsum

    Katie is a lifestyle and travel writer based in Denver, CO. Her career has led her from horseback riding on a dude ranch in the Rocky Mountains to mountain biking in Bolivia to kayaking in Laos and back again. She considers chocolate a food group and has never met a pair of yoga pants she didn’t like.

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