BARNES CORNERS The snow falls at a steady rate, glistening the vast array of fir trees within Tug Hill State Forest and providing a firm layer for cross-country skiers to trek on in another outdoor season of healthy exercise.
This is Barnes Corners, located in the Tug Hill Plateau, where the white stuff can come down between Halloween and early May. The region receives the heaviest snowfall east of the Rockies, and reliablesnow cover can befound in winters harshest months.
Its a great activity, and its great for your heart, cross-country skier Fred Abram said after finishing the novice, 1.9-mile Whiteway Loop at Rodman-Barnes Corners Ski Trails, located off Route 177.
With 11 trails, the Rodman-Barnes trails, in the towns of Rodman and Pinckney, are a popular destination for skiers along with Winona State Forest Park, located in the towns of Lorraine and Lacona in Oswego County, and Robert G. Wehle State Park in the town of Henderson.
Abram, a 52-year-old beer salesman from Black River, said he became interested in cross-country skiing while attending the SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica.
I started out at Steamboat Springs in Colorado with my roommates, and Ive kept it going ever since, he said.
I couldnt believe I was able to stay upright, Abram added, laughing. I thought I would be down on my (rear end) for most of the time.
He previously skied in Boonville, but now hes in his third season at the Rodman-Barnes Corners trails.
The terrain features level to slightly uphill and downhill courses for novice skiers, and more challenging hills for intermediate skiers.
Most of the trails are nice, and the terrain isnt as rugged as in the Adirondacks, Abram said, adding that conditions are best when temperatures are in the 20s. The trails here are mostly for beginnersand intermediate skiers.
The 11,721-acre Tug Hill State Forests most breath-taking view is Inman Gulf, a 300-foot-deep canyon.
Rodman-Barnes Corners trails are about a half-hour drive from downtown Watertown, as are the trails at Winona and Wehle parks.
Winona features 29 ski trails, covering 21.8 miles, for different levels of skiers. Meanwhile, Wehle, which has 15 trails, offers a wide range of terrain, including scenic views of the Lake Ontario shoreline.
Winonas two longest ski trails are the five-mile Winona Way and the 3.1-mile Bargy, considered the parks main course.
Its like going to the gym, said Scott Saunders, 50, of Rochester, an occasional cross-country skier the past 20 years who was visiting relatives in Adams over Thanksgiving. Its a healthy exercise.
Said Abram: You go for a couple of hours, like a walk in the woods, you enjoy it and you lose track of time ... and you feel satisfied after finishing.