Three years ago, having wearied of long and expensive lift lines -- not to mention the overpriced gear and swingin' atmosphere that have turned too many ski resorts into overpriced, landlocked versions of a Carnival cruise -- I took up cross-country skiing. X-C, as its adherents like to call it, is a quieter, low-tech, more spiritual way -- yes, I said spiritual -- to enjoy the winter landscape. There are few requirements for good cross-country, but there is no escaping the need for snow. For that reason, Lapland Lake, about 200 miles northwest of the city, is one of my favorite destinations. Nestled into a very dependable snow bowl in the Adirondacks, the area has snow when no one else around does. There are 12 kilometers of ungroomed trails and nearly 40 kilometers of groomed trails, all of which are prepped for traditional X-C as well as skate skiing. (The latter is the new high-performance, high-speed method thats brought brightly colored spandex clothing to trails that used to be the last bastion of natural-fiber sportswear.) Lapland Lake has a number of two-, three-, and four-bedroom cottages (called tupas, in Finnish) with cozy woodstoves, free wood, and full kitchens. Although there is a supermarket in nearby Northville, try to come with all the supplies you'll need and hunker down for an uninterrupted stay in the woods. Theres also an inexpensive restaurant that specializes in Finnish dishes.
DETAILS Lapland Lake (518-863-4974; www.laplandlake.com; a two-bedroom tupa is $150 for two on weekends and as low as $100 on weeknights). The lodge has a full line of clothing in its shop and sells or rents skis, boots, and poles.