“Advice is like snow – the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper in sinks into the mind. “
Each Monday and Friday, I write about events going on in the Capital District. With all my research I not only find new restaurants or other sights to try but I find completely different locations, whole towns I’ve never been to before which in this case was North Creek. I had written a blog entry about my Aunt’s jewelry that she sells in a store in North Creek and I see events happening on Gore Mountain but I’ve never actually been there, until two weekends ago.
I had heard that the Gore Snow Train was going to start up again and this was the first I was ever hearing of it. I just assumed it was a train that was going to take me a hour from my house and I at first glance didn’t see the point in that. The more research I did, the more I wanted to take part and then the opportunity presented itself as it always does: a LivingSocial deal.
I recently picked up the winter 2012 issue of EcoLocal and they had an article on not only the Snow Train but on Garnet Hill Lodge which is not very far from the North Creek train station. In 1934, the Schenectady Winter Sports Club chose North Creek as its prime ski destination to service its members and it arrived at the North Creek train station on March 4 bringing 375 skiers and the round trip fare was $1.50. After the popularity rose, the club made arrangements to begin overnight travel from Grand Central for the general public and there would be models on board showing off the winter collections from Saks Sporting Goods. Once the train arrived, local men with buses and trucks would take the skiers to the mountain for 25 cents to witness one of the earliest rope tow systems in the East. The Snow Train grew in popularity for 9 winters though had to cancel for weather conditions and then when the war began, the trains stopped. They started back up again in the late 1940s but once the general public had their own private automobiles it had little success. In 1974, the North Creek residents established a celebratory ride called “Snow Trains Unlimited” but because of lack of snow, it was cancelled. This year, the snow train is open and will offer retro-fitted school buses to take skiers to and from the mountain.
I was so excited to get the LivingSocial deal, $15 round trip tickets on the Snow Train. The voucher had instructions to call a number and make reservations ahead of time and to make sure to tell them my voucher number. The two options for tickets were Coach and Dome but my vouchers were for the coach seats. The main difference between the two cars is that the dome ceiling is open and you’re able to see above and all around you while on the second level of a double-decker train car. When I made the reservations, they told us to show up between 6:15am-6:30am even though everyone else seemed to have showed up later since the train didn’t leave until 7:00am SHARP but I liked being able to be there and relax for a little bit beforehand. We went to the ticket window and told her my name and voucher numbers and she handed us (my boyfriend and I) the coolest looking tickets I’ve ever seen. Amtrak doesn’t give out tickets like this; it was the moment we were brought back to the times of old-fashioned train cars.
The whole ride there was pretty much a blur since we slept the whole 2 hours and some change so we didn’t have a chance to eat breakfast. It worked out though because we’re not skiers so we didn’t expect to go see Gore Mountain until later in the day. In case you did want to eat breakfast on the train, they offer two eggs with potatoes ($7), an Adirondack omelet ($8), steak and eggs ($10) and other things a la carte like oatmeal ($5), corned beef hash ($9) and a fruit bowl ($5). Nothing in the town was open yet when we arrived around 9:30am except Marsha’s Family Restaurant which was diner-style so we spent the time eating breakfast and pancakes was exactly what I needed to wake up for a long day. The main part of town is down one street and it’s really cute. There are quite a few choice stores to check out like the Hudson River Trading Co which has Adirondack gifts and home décor, Poiema and the Vault with handmade and one of a kind items for home and personal care, Café Sarah which is a small bakery with cakes and cookies and Seven Sisters that has tons of great jewelry and other interesting things.
I was surprised to see that they didn’t have anywhere to go ice skating but at least there was tubing. We had to hop on one of the free Gore Mountain shuttles and told her we wanted to go to the tubing which was at the North Creek Ski Bowl. The ski bowl opens at 11AM and we got there just a little before it opened to give ourselves time to buy tickets, put on boots and snow pants, etc. For 2 hours of tubing fun, the cost is $17 & they had 800’ in chutes for guests 36” and taller & lighting for evening activity. There wasn’t that big of a crowd so we were able to continue to go up and down the mountain without waiting in any lines. It was a lot of fun and at first I didn’t think 2 hours would be enough but it was perfect, especially since we didn’t wait in any lines. After we were done at the mountain, we waited a little while for the shuttle and headed up to Gore Mountain. Be aware that the shuttle goes on a lunch break so plan your two hours of tubing accordingly because neither the town nor Gore Mountain is in walking distance from the Ski Bowl.
It was a beautiful day out so the mountain was crowded. It had been awhile since we ate so we figured it was good to eat again, we had to be back to the train station before 4:00p to make sure we catch the train home. All the food there was your regular fast food such as burgers, french fries, chicken fingers, etc. In the back of the food court area was a restaurant/bar called Tannery Pub and instead of booths, you got to sit in old gondolas from the mountain which we surprisingly comfortable.
For lunch we had chicken fingers and french fries and I ordered a Peppermint Patty ($7) which was hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps and definitely hit the spot. The food wasn’t too bad but it was chicken fingers and french fries which in my opinion are pretty hard to mess up. After that, we decided to head back into town so we grabbed the shuttle and walked around town before heading back to the train station. We got there a little early and the small museum was closed so we looked through the shop and sat down inside until it was time to get on the train. Once we boarded, we both took a little nap but woke up just in time for dinner and I really wanted to experience the dining car. The only downside was that their chef was sick and had to call in a back-up so some of the food they weren’t able to prepare and since we got there late, some of the main dinner options they had run out of. On the menu for the main plates is Stuffed Pork Loin ($15), 10oz NY Strip Steak ($16), 8oz Ahi Tuna Fillet ($13) and Chicken Cordon Blue ($12). As for sandwiches there is a Philly Cheesesteak ($10), Club Sandwich ($10), Grilled Breast of Chicken ($10), Grilled Cheeseburger ($9) and Peanut Butter and Jelly ($5). I ended up ordering the Grilled Chicken Sandwich which came with a side so I decided on the Italian Wedding soup. It was all delicious.
They served the food in the style of the old train cars. They gave us the check and we wrote on it what we wanted to order. For the fact that we were inside of a train, it was pretty cozy and really sweet. I ate my soup and then took most of my sandwich home and ate it later. Overall the train ride was really pleasant. The whole staff was really accommodating, especially the conductor who talked to us about our trip and was ready to answer any questions about the area.
The snow train this year is done on March 31 so if you did’t get your tickets this year, don’t worry there’s (thankfully) always next year. Even if you don’t ski, it’s a pretty nice day trip and the train itself adds on to the experience. We arrived in North Creek at 9:20PM and arrived back in Saratoga around 7:00PM so it was a pretty substantial day. If you ski you can take a bus right from the station to Gore Mountain, if you cross country ski, you can make arrangements with Garnet Hill to take a trip there and if you do neither, there’s always tubing like we did! There are also deals on a lift ticket + train ticket so check out the website for more details.