Between now and the first skiable snow, I’m going to share my thoughts and experiences of forty or so of my favorite Nordic skiing areas. The first of these is where I learned to ski in the mid-1980s, Art Roscoe Trail system at Allegany State Park in Western New York.
On weekends in the 1980s, it was common to see charter buses from Toronto at Art Roscoe, a testament to the quality of trail design and a commitment from the park to maintain the 20 miles of trails at a high standard. Today, the park still grooms them on an as need basis as a double-tracked classical ski area.
Most of the trails in this network were created just below the ridgeline of the mountains in the park providing beautiful views, looking across broad wooded valleys of the park. Along with the trees, it offers extra protection from the wind well skiing. Lake Erie, which is 40 miles away, provides some lake effect to the park, along with snow from the occasional eastern snowstorm. With a summit elevation of 2100+ feet, the trail system holds the snow well. TIn addition, the trails are all well-graded and drained, adding to the ability to maintain its snow.
The trails at the highest elevations, Sweetwater and Christian Hollow have some intermediate type hills but ski at a beginner level because of how well they were designed. Leonards Run adds a little more distance for a skier with the Ridge Trail adding a couple of longer descents. A return up Patterson allows for a two-mile gradual climb to the Summit or for the advanced skier, a trip on the hills of Snow Snake will provide for some eye-watering descents and some heart raising climbs.
The trail system is now used in the nonwinter months as a mountain bike area. With the development of roller skis with 8-inch wheels (Skikes), I’ve started making an occasion summer trip up to Art Roscoe. The upper trails I roller skied on were firm enough that I was able to do a fair amount of skate style skiing mixed in with a little classical. It is pretty neat seeing the beauty of the area during all of the different seasons.
If you have never been there, I would recommend a winter trip to enjoy some exceptional classical skiing around. The park is located next to the town of Salamanca in NY and just across the border from Bradford, PA. The park has a number of cabin loops open during the winter. The one cabin loop, The Summit Loop is located at the trailhead for the Art Roscoe Trails. More park information is available at Allegany State Park Link.