With the ability to tailor your route length, start short and see how it goes. Begin with the 2-mile Field Loop, then tack on the 1.5-mile Ridge Line Trail, and continue further with the 1-mile Upper Lake and 0.5-mile CCC Loop.
Clip in and head west to begin the Field Loop just outside the lodge. It’s an ideal warmup to get your ski legs going: a gentle trail with a green circle rating for beginners that passes along open fields and bare winter forest. The scenery may prove satisfying to first-timers. But if you’re up for a more challenging trail, take the intersection just over halfway around the loop, east onto the Ridge Line Trail. The first half of this 1.5-mile, one-way loop is moderately difficult (blue square rating), though the second is better suited to experts (black diamond) with some steep descents.
As Ridge Line begins, you’ll pass above the park’s family-friendly sledding hill with a view downhill of the lodge and Canopus Lake. Kick your way up a gradual ascent of 100 feet in elevation for the next 0.5 miles. At an intersection adjacent to the park entrance road, you can descend the elevation you just climbed on the trail’s difficult-rated section, or ski a roadside trail a quarter-mile back to the lodge.
Continuing on Ridge Line, the trail makes a hard turn that yields another 100 feet of elevation gain. But as the trail crests, the fun begins. Enjoy some serious glide descending through features like the Otter Slide and Raven’s Dart. The trail then mellows out over its last quarter-mile before you find yourself back on the upper end of the Field Loop. Follow the second mile of the Field Loop counter-clockwise and you’ll return to the lodge.
Ready for more? If ice conditions allow, go for a ski across Canopus Lake. It’s about a half-mile across the lake’s upper half, where you’ll find another beginner loop around the relics of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) work responsible for building most of the park on the ancestral lands of the Munsee Lenape, Schaghticoke, and Wappinger peoples. After finishing the 0.5-mile loop around the CCC camp, skate your way another half-mile back across the lake to enjoy some hot food and drink and a roaring fire at the lodge.
The winter park is open daily from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. A daily trail pass for skiing or snowshoeing is $12 for adults and $10 for youth and seniors. The sledding hill is $3 for the day. Ski, snowshoe and sledding tube rentals are available on site on a first-come, first-served basis. Snow conditions are updated on the park website once the season is underway: parks.ny.gov
Take the Taconic State Parkway north to Exit 31B. At the end of the ramp, make a right on state Route 301 west. In 0.25 miles, turn right on the Clarence Fahnestock State Park entrance road. In just under a half-mile, you’ll reach the lodge and parking area for the Fahnestock Winter Park.