- Julia Dranov
Powder, Skibanas, and Maples - Oh My!
Titus Mountain keeps it real in the Northern Adirondacks.
Our season began late. My husband, Kyle, and I are not long-term planners, but we start checking snow reports each fall and usually take an almost-obligatory trip to Whiteface sometime in December. Alas, as all know too well, this winter, like the year before it, remains anything but typical. Short-term plans are difficult to make as many ski resorts now rightfully require advance reservations to limit capacity. With a few potential weekends foiled by an inability to grab tickets in a season that began with little snow, we delayed the beginning of our ski season until MLK weekend – a time we usually avoid skiing due to crowds and elevated prices. But this season the itch was just too strong, we’d been denied turns too long, and we simply couldn’t wait any longer. And with sold-out capacity expected at Whiteface, we turned our attention to a place we’d known about for years but had never visited – Titus Mountain, located just over an hour north of Lake Placid, about 15 miles from Canada.
Making our decision just a week ahead of time, we booked a room in Wilmington, planning to embark on a mix of winter hiking, cross-country skiing, and our beloved downhill. We had been intrigued by Titus Mountain but never previously committed to it, given the even-longer drive from our home in New York City. With Whiteface reservations sold out for the weekend, we decided to try something new and were eminently rewarded. As we drove north from Wilmington, with a stop in Lake Placid (for Bluesberry Bakery scones) the roads and surroundings became increasingly more remote, with long stretches of snow-capped pines our only company west along Route 86 and north along Route 30. There was no familiar logjam of cars approaching the mountain; the streets remained empty, dotted by quaint Victorian houses.
We parked near the base lodge, booted up in the car, and ventured forth to new-to-us terrain. (Park at the upper lodge to avoid trekking uphill with skis at the end of the day). If we were mildly worried about COVID exposure on our first day back to the slopes, our fears were mitigated when we got on the hill. The resort reaches across three mountains and was nearly empty, with all 50 trails open for our enjoyment.
If you are still a beginner hoping to gain confidence on some gentle slopes, an intermediate skier like myself who likes to experiment in ungroomed terrain, or an advanced skier surrounded by those less intrepid, Titus delivers for the whole family or group of mixed-level skiers. If you’re a junky for steeps, though, it may leave you wanting more.
For a smaller resort with 1,200 feet of vertical, Titus punches above its weight, delivering varied terrain across its three mountains. Kyle and I started our day on Maple Run from Chair VI on the Middle Mountain, soon transitioning to spend the rest of our morning on the Upper Mountain. The barely-touched powder on David’s Delight, an ungroomed black along the lift-line, delivered fluffy bliss with snow still falling and few other skiers to be seen. Kyle ventured down neighboring Outer Edge and the double-black Outer Edge Glades, while I took pleasant rides down Sundance and Titusville Express. I was mesmerized by the pillowy snow being served up on all sides like coconut gelato. We east coast skiers love our hard pack, but we go absolutely nuts for a powder day.
As noon approached, we returned to the Middle Mountain, exploring the blend of blues and blacks available, including the beautiful open blue glade Three Trees. We spent the latter part of our day on my favorite Lower Mountain, riding maple-lined Chair I (Titus has produced over 6,000 gallons of maple syrup from its 14,000 maples) and enjoying trails that are perfect for intermediate skiers dabbling in black diamonds like myself. If only we could have stayed long enough to experience the night-skiing on offer here in the Moon Valley (or had thought to stop by the store to pick up some of the Maple Valley maple syrup harvested at Titus).
At the end of the day, the only thing missing was a relaxed beer at the lodge. While the lodges were open, we didn’t want to risk spending too much time indoors. I immediately wished we had planned in advanced and booked one of the new slope-side Skibanas, private daytime mini-lodges that can be rented for less than $100 on weekdays, or $150 on weekends, to small groups who want a private place to warm up or have a snack. The resort also features gorgeous rentals along its trails, offering a ski-in / ski-out experience I can get behind. Indeed, I can imagine coming back here with friends and their families in the future.
It is fair to say that Titus has captured the Adirondack corner of my heart, which was already crowded with favorites. And it has proven worth the trek – even if you’re coming from as far away as we did. Just turn on an audio book or a podcast, or cue up a favorite playlist, and make the drive for a low-key experience; it’ll be worth it.