Founded in 1986, the Jackrabbit Ski Trail is a unique opportunity for cross-country ski touring. It links the populated areas of Keene, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Paul Smiths with developed cross-country ski centers and some longer sections of wilderness skiing to make possible a tremendous variety of ski trips.
The construction and maintenance of the Jackrabbit Trail is the major project of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council (ASTC), formed in 1986 by local skiers who saw an opportunity to link up traditional ski routes and create a trail system that connected local towns to each other and to backcountry areas of the Forest Preserve. In 2014 ASTC combined forces with the Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA) and adopted BETA's name. The expanded organization is now responsible for the stewardship of the Jackrabbit Trail.
The section of the trail which passes through the groomed trails of Whiteface Club, Lake Placid Club and Cascade X-C Ski Center do not require a trail fee so long as skiers stay on the marked Jackrabbit Trail. Snowshoeing is permitted on all sections of the trail. The most popular snowshoe trips are on the Old Mountain Road section, from Whiteface Inn Lane to the lean-to, and from McKenzie Pond Road to McKenzie Pond.
The trail is named in honor of Herman “Jack Rabbit” Johannsen, who was a legendary skiing pioneer both in the Adirondacks and, later, in Canada. There he constructed the famous Maple Leaf Trail and helped to start the 100 mile, two-day Canadian Ski Marathon. While living and vacationing in Lake Placid between 1916 and 1928, Johannsen laid out some of the original routes used by today’s trail. He was also famous for his one-day ascents of Marcy starting from Lake Placid—a round-trip of over 30 miles. “Jack Rabbit” died in 1987 in his native Norway at age 111, skiing nearly to the time of his death.