Labrador: Under the Radar

It was ski-on just about all day. There were small crowds, cheap(er) tickets, no reservations required. There was plenty of natural snow, a variety of terrain to choose from, fun low angle trees… three cool old fixed grip chairs and a T bar. I discovered that Labrador Mountain in Truxton, NY is awesome. The only thing I couldn’t figure out is how I’d gone this long without checking the place out.

road to Labrador

When I got home from my first visit there, I decided to do some research. I pulled out a couple of books I have on ski history and was surprised to find no mention of either Labrador Mountain or Truxton, NY. I turned to Wikipedia and was astounded to find that there was no page for Lab.

Maybe that’s why I’d never been there before. Lab seemed to fly completely below the radar. Eventually I figured out that Labrador was opened in 1957 by a family named Wilson but I had to dig for that little bit of information.

Labrador double chair

I’d never even considered skiing Lab before. The uniqueness of this ski season has inspired me to stick to smaller resorts and seek out some of the upstate hills I haven’t been to before. Central New York demanded a closer look. Of the three ski areas clustered north of Cortland, Lab looked to be slightly bigger then Song or Toggenburg, so I decided we’d check them out first.

The boys have had it with the early wake ups; I let them sleep in until 5:30. Oddly enough, they both went right back to sleep once in the car. For the first half hour of driving I got sucked into George Norrie interviewing a psychologist talking about the history of Tarot cards and explaining how Tarot readings could be really accurate. They didn’t convince me but the history was interesting. After that, I pulled up “This is The Who” on Spotify and that got me most of the way out Route 17.

The sun came up in my rear view mirror around Monticello as the temps hovered around 15 degrees. We arrived at Labrador at 8:50 with a light snow falling. The triple chair next to the lodge was turning and there were a few cars in the parking lot but nobody seemed to be in a big rush for first chair. We booted up at the car and crossed the street to the base area. The vibe was as chill as the air temperature. Before I clicked in, I already liked the place.

On the first chair ride up, I spotted some nicely spaced glades on the other side of the main trail. My sons both agreed they looked fun so that was our first run. We liked them so much we did a repeat for our second. Danger Boy has been developing into a bit of a powder hound the last few years so the fresh snow really pleased him. A few times after taking a fall, he explained “Falling is no problem if you land in deep snow.” I told him to be careful anyway.

We turned the other way off the top of the triple and found some steeper terrain with fresh snow on it. I think we skied Ptarmigan on that run. I hadn’t picked up a trail map yet, and we ducked in and out of the trees throughout the day so most of the time I didn’t know which trail we were on. After a while, I noticed that the double chair on the other side of the lodge was running so we headed over there to explore some more. We came across a terrain park and Junior hit a few jumps. It was all fun.

To say the crowds were light at Labrador isn’t accurate because there really were no crowds at all. Most of our chair rides were ski-on regardless of which lift we were using. When we stopped for a chili break some time after 11, there was plenty of room for us sit in the lodge while maintaining a social distance. Skiing at Lab was a zero stress experience in every way.

The afternoon went the same way as the morning. When the third lift started running, we were able to explore the trails we hadn’t gotten to in the morning and found some more glades to get into over there, more soft snow. The flurries that fell most of the day further improved the conditions. It wasn’t really a powder day, but everywhere we went we found little pockets of un-disturbed snow. The sun even peaked through the typical upstate overcast a few times.

I still can’t figure why Labrador doesn’t get more attention from the skiing public or why there is such a scarcity of information about the place online. Somehow they have managed to stay below the radar. Maybe that’s how they like it. But now I know the secret.

17 comments on “Labrador: Under the Radar

  1. I have a season pass for Lab and Song (they are sister mountains). Both can get some good snow and have some nice tree skiing you can find too. Lab definitely has more variety. Lab has had much better conditions so far this year than Song, but everything is starting to pick up which is exciting. I love hitting up Lab at the end of a work day and get a few hours in since they are open until 9PM.

  2. I’ve had a season pass at Lab for over 30 years. By far, the best local hill for Syracuse and CNY. Conditions are always better than expected. The new ownership has made some lodge improvements recently, but unfortunately has cut the opening hours by an hour at the start and end. Lots of school groups at night, I would show up at 7:45 and ski to 10:00. Sister mountain Song also nice, it’s good to have a choice on the season pass.

  3. Nice report Bski! Lab is always a fave when we visit family in CNY, for a small venue it has ample variety and a great retro vibe.

  4. Thanks for the report! I’ve had a couple of great snow days at Lab, including an epic late March powder day years ago. But really, aren’t all the CNY hills a bit under-the-radar compared to the Catskills, Gore etc.?

  5. Classic place. You have been on quite a tour of upstate! Do I see Toggenburg in your near future?

  6. It has been a few years as I spend most of my time these days at Greek Peak and Toggenburg but when my kids were small, Labrador was our spot. Not only great skiing but very family friendly.

  7. Song is a pretty descent hill also. Toggenburg is close also. The 3 are within 30 minutes of each other.

  8. The website for both Song and Labrador is SkiCNY.com. Your radar is now adjusted. So glad you enjoyed the time with your boys. A wonderful year to get them out, daily. Best lessons learned on a chair lift.

  9. Great write-up and similar to my recent experience skiing Lab for the first time. Utterly empty and big enough for a day. I didn’t take my kids but it seems like a good mountain for them as the terrain is completely unintimidating.

  10. My niece had ski club there for many years, and loved the place. I took her to MRG, Jay, Sugarbush, Magic, ect, but Lab will always be her favorite.

  11. My son was an Eastern racer and we know Lab very well! You are correct about the tree skiing= it’s mellow, yet fun. That’s why I loved ski racing- unlike travel hockey, softball etc., the parents get to do the sport too! You just had to make sure you didn’t miss their run. I would check out Toggenburg and Song also, fun places and no attitudes! We live near Bristol Mt., 1200 vertical, but it does get a bit crowded on weekends. And quite a distance farther, than Lab or Song.

  12. I first skied Lab when I was a kid in the 60’s. My “regular area was Toggenburg, a few miles to the east in Fabius, NY. There was always a friendly competition between these two family owned areas. I believe the Wilson Family started Lab. Subsequently they went on to acquire an interest in Willard Mtn in Easton, NY, north of Troy. In either, you could always rely upon a friendly welcome and skiing as good as central NY could provide. Thanks to lake effect snows, I learned to ski powder in Central NY. i am confident many others did too. I am glad you got a chance to sample Labrador. Try Toggenburg too.

  13. The theme of this year for me will be “how did I not come here before” as I discover new places away from the mega-resorts. It’s been a surprisingly good year. Putting Labrador on the list.

  14. Thanks for all the feedback, folks. It seems like lots of people were in on this secret before I was. ML, I never did pick up a map. Next time, I guess. I’m gonna have to get back to Lab for sure.

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