Rather than flying down to Florida for another lazy, inactive Presidents Day weekend in "God's waiting room," my daughter and I decided to consider a more active local alternative, one which we could reach via car.
After Googling around a bit, I discovered the website of Garnet Hill Lodge in the Adirondacks, which is a cross-country ski venue. I sent a hyperlink to my fourteen year-old to see if she approved and then made reservations with Debra. Two weeks later we drove up I-87 through Albany and then up the Northway! It was a 4 1/2 hour drive to Cross River from Westchester County, as the website mentioned. Next time we'll leave early enough to arrive during daylight.
The Garnet Hill facility has just changed hands and the new owners (Don Preuninger and his partner Mindy) seem to have accomplished a great deal since taking possession of the establishment in December 2011. In consideration of the brief tenure of their ownership, some of the minor inconveniences we experienced can certainly be forgiven.
The main lodge is delightfully rustic, serving fine meals with a cheery fire every night. We stayed in the "Tea House" where our room was functional but very simply appointed (it didn't even have a chair or desk). Unfortunately I had reserved so late that we had to settle for a room with just one queen-sized bed and a "rollaway" cot which was really uncomfortable - especially after a day of X-C skiing (guess who got the rollaway...ugggh)! Electronic addicts may want to think twice about GHL as Wi-Fi service is spotty in the main lodge and non-existent in the guest houses, and cell phones are entirely useless there.
Don sometimes plays piano for the diners at night and Mindy tends the bar in Preuninger's Pub, which has a fireplace and a couple of beers on tap.
The real highlight of Garnet Hill is the cross-country trail system (almost 35 miles!), which are all groomed. We stayed on the "Old Faithful" trail since it was the easiest. We made four loops over two days and our times improved steadily. The trails were generally empty, with lovely weather and solitude. The GHL ski shop is well-equipped and X-C ski rental costs are much more reasonable than downhill. The lack of crowds made GHL so much nicer than overrun downhill venues!
Of course, the lodge is located at the top of an Adirondacks mountain so it actually HAD SNOW (the metro NYC area has had a VERY mild winter with no meaningful accumulation). On the way up, we didn't even SEE any snow until we got into North River! We were glad to have driven our 4x4 pickup as the roads up to the lodge were well-sanded but still snow-covered.
Kudos to Don & Mindy for the terrific job they've done re-invigorating Garnet Hill!
We would definitely consider another visit...
Skip & Izzy Parker
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Garnet Hill Lodge is a 4 season lodge and resort in the central Adirondacks. Situated on a gentle hill overlooking pristine Thirteenth Lake, Garnet Hill Lodge offers a storybook Adirondack setting for individuals, couples, and families to escape from the hectic pace of everyday life and surround themselves with the serenity of nature. Our guests can choose to actively engage in hiking, mountain biking, swimming, paddling a kayak/canoe... Or just settle into an Adirondack chair on the expansive front lawn with a good book if preferred. Winter opens up 50k of beautifully groomed cross-country ski trails, countless miles of back-country and snowshoe trails. As well as 15 minutes to downhill skiing at Gore Mountain. Our main Log House Lodge is reminiscent of an Adirondack Great Camp. The original structure was built in 1936 and offers a casual, friendly atmosphere with Bed and Breakfast guest service. Our location provides convenient access to many vacation activities, but best of all, it is a unique opportunity for couples and families to reconnect over wholesome outdoor activities. Our full service restaurant is open to the public and nourishes all our guests with freshly prepared, hearty lodge meals. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Garnet Hill Hotel North River