Silvermine: Frozen in Time

The first article I wrote for NYSkiBlog was about taking my kids hiking at the long closed Silvermine Ski Area in Harriman State Park. Silvermine has been one of my go-to spots for a long time, for short walks, hikes around the lake, canoeing, sledding and an occasional ski.

Silvermine pond

It’s a cool spot to get a small dose of nature quickly, easy to get to, has convenient parking and even has bathrooms. Though New York is littered with closed ski areas, most of them have been completely erased from the land. Nearby Ski Stony Point, for instance, is covered in McMansions with big manicured lawns. Silvermine looks like someone shut it down and just walked away twenty years ago.

There are surface lift towers still standing and shacks with the old electric motors still inside. Last time I was there I discovered a counter weight hanging in the trees near the path of one of the original rope tows. It’s like an archeological site, revealing what skiing was like in an earlier era.

skinning up

What surprised me about my original piece was the positive response it got. We found that lots of people had fond memories of the place. The post went up in November of 2015 and it’s most recent comment appeared in January of this year so I guess Silvermine still has some fans.

When I first started skiing there, I had the place to myself but over the last few winters I’ve noticed other people’s tracks once in a while. Last year I actually bumped into another skier for the first time. On a recent Sunday, we parked at 9am and the place was deserted except a few winter hikers and a truck plowing the lot.

hiking Old Silvermine Ski Area

Wow, I thought as we booted up, are we the first ones here? No sooner did the thought cross my mind then, seemingly out of nowhere, a guy with a pair of skis over his shoulder trotted past us, his dog following along behind. Dammit.

I’d adjusted my touring adapters to fit junior’s bindings and boots but some complications with a new pair of skins meant that he would have to boot pack it. I gave him a head start while I got my skins attached and then I followed along. About a third of the way up, the guy that got up ahead of us came by, arcing nice little tele turns with his dog chasing behind.

skiing Silvermine

I paused to take some pictures and then continued on. Even though it’s less then 400 feet of vertical, the climb kicked my ass. A busy couple of months at work and a two week long head cold are my excuses for missing my gym time, but I was still embarrassed by my fitness level.

There was still plenty of six-inch deep powder left for us. The lure of powder is really the main attraction of skiing here, which is why I normally only come after a storm. It’s not a challenging hill and the taller, more interesting trail to skiers’ right has thick brush covering it.

skinning Silvermine ski area

Skiing that would require a four foot base of snow, which I’ve yet to see. Usually when I go to Silvermine, I’m just looking for two or three runs of silky powder skiing. We got that this time.

When we were ready to start back up for a second run, sledders were showing up but they stuck to the lower part of the hill. Even with just three people and one dog skiing, Silvermine was getting busy. After a couple runs we went to explore the beginners’ area, in a meadow to skiers’ left. This slope is even gentler and the vertical can’t be over a hundred feet but the snow was still untouched.

old Silver Mine Ski Center

At some point, junior asked me if I had a shovel in the car because he wanted to try riding it like a sled, an idea I admit he got from me. Shovel-riding was a lot more fun on groomed slopes but we gave it a shot. We brought our skis back to the car and got the shovel.

Previous shovel-riding experience told me that we needed more gravity then the sledding area offered so we headed up the “expert slope” and started butt-grooming a track. Each run, we started a little higher on the hill to pack down the track as we went so each run was a little faster then the last. I had to remind junior to keep his feet up but he got the hang of it pretty quick in spite of some spectacular crashes. Shovel-riding is a ton of fun. If you’ve never tried it I recommend that you do.

shovel riding

We headed home by noon. We didn’t get much skiing out of the day but what we got was quality and we got a great workout as well. Silvermine is such a cool place, no matter the season. With some strategic brush-mowing and maybe a little time spent clearing the tanglefoot from the woods above the beginners’ area it could be more interesting to ski there but in the mean time we’ll enjoy it for what it is.

25 comments on “Silvermine: Frozen in Time

  1. I’d like to do this. I’ve always thought about what it was like to ski back in the day as I passed by on my road bike.

  2. Yeah, sometimes we park there for road rides, and I stare up and think, hey, that would be fun in the winter. But, if it snows that much, I wimp out for lift serviced further north.

  3. Interesting how many times we have been there and never thought to boot hike it and take a ride down. I have a very vague memory of skiing there as a kid, though have to confirm with my dad if we did. Very cool to share this experience with your son and for sure us. Great story and nice to see that nature near NYC can still deliver great enjoyment.

  4. Great post! Any chance I can get the full res version of the photo of me skiing with my dog?

    Also, I went back to Silvermine the following Wednesday when it was 75 degrees out- all the snow was gone- and quickly found the GoPro that had flown off my dog’s harness.

    -guy with green jacket and dog

  5. Thanks for all the comments guys.
    Glad you found your GoPro Brett.
    Marc, Albas & Benny, I live close by so I’ll try to post conditions in the forum when it’s skiable. Timing is everything at Silvermine.

  6. My friend’s dad owned the ski rental concession. I worked there evenings during my senior year in HS getting the few rentals out in a half hour and then skied for a couple of hours. It was a nice place and as long as you avoided the weekends you had the place to yourself. Being an employee also got you a discount at the nearby Bear Mountain Inn dining room which occasionally made for a great meal. Having since moved near better skiing it’s hard to call Silver Mine a ski area but it was a great place to learn how to ski when I was 7. Too bad they couldn’t keep the place open. There was a similar type of area called Ski Stony Point which I assume also is no longer there. The advantage was it has a chair lift but also was barely what one would call skiing.

  7. Literally learned to ski there in early 1960’s with my father and younger sister; we drove up from Queens; I remember the J bars and T bars; after some years patronizing the newer Sterling Forest, he became a National Ski Patrolman and we were “assigned” to Stony Point.

  8. I had the best times of my life skiing at Silvermine in the 1960s through 70s. My brother and I used to be on the racing team and my father was the head ski patrolman. Thank you Silvermine for all the great memories!!!❤️❤️

    Ken, Steve, Martha and Richard Briesemeister

  9. Hiked there last weekend, looking forward to some snow tubing, sledding & maybe tobogganing. Anyone use their electric mountain board to climb the hill in the snow? Now that would be a fun way to get up, then slide down the hill!!

  10. Hi all, I found an old calendar tri-fold from “Ski” Stony Point for DEC. 1967. It shows weekend all day price of $5.50. I will attach a picture if anyone would be interested; and could tell me how as I can’t seem to be able to figure it out. Thanks.

  11. I used to ski there a lot back in the 60’s. It was close to home, inexpensive. The slopes were well groomed and the people that skied there were polite and friendly.

  12. I have my first photo of myself and brother carrying out wooden skis there in the parking lot… I was 3 years old!!… I remember the rope tow… It’s where I learned to ski

  13. Learned to ski there.
    Great times with family and friends.
    Plan to have my ashes placed at the top of the center slope so watch where you step people.

  14. My Mom was a waitress at the Bear Mountain Inn. As a result, I was able to have free passes from about age 12 to 17. later I was on the ski patrol and at other areas in Vermont.

    I do remember the top of the left slope had a run at the beginning so that I was able to use it as a miniature ski jump.

    I remember taking my test at another ski area. Part of the test was to take a loaded toboggan down the slope. I had the front end. My skis were almost at right angles to control the speed.

    I am now 76 and living in California.

  15. My family lived in new city in Rockland County. In the mid-60s, we learned to ski at Silvermine and Harriman State Park. that was the beginning of my 40-year ski career.

    my father was one of the co-owners of the Stony Point Ski Area, located just west of exit 15, Gate Hill Road, on the Palisades Parkway. It only ran for a year or two.

  16. @Ken Briesemeister – Incredible memories skiing and racing with you and your brother Steve and Jimmy Hannigan on the Racing Team under Coach Paul in the 60’s and 70’s; hope you are well.

  17. It’s been so many years and I’m sorry I don’t remember who you are, but if I saw a photograph of you back in the day then I would know right away. Was Coach Paul the X Olympic skier from Czechoslovakia that was training us? I remember him very well because I beat him in a downhill race with my 200 cm Head Killy 800. If you have any photos of yourself from back in the day I would love for you to email it to me.

  18. I am so happy to have found this story about Silver Mine Ski Area where I learned to ski for the very first time in 1969 or 1970 on a high school day trip. Wearing long skis, I basically learned how to go straight downhill and stop in a snow plow. Glad to say I am still skiing more than ever, though I make many more turns than I did then. I joined Miramar Ski Club 10 years ago. We run bus trips to our lodge in VT nearly every weekend during the winter. We typically ski at Sugarbush and Killington. Guests welcome.

  19. Wow! Stuff you find when looking on the web! Started skiing in Stony Point (hiking up hills) and then went to my first ski area— Silvermine. Then went to work at Ski Stony Point. Parked cars, lift operator, short order cook, then ski instructor. I don’t remember the owner’s name, but I remember he had a light blue corvette with bubble motif on the sides. Wish I had the money to buy it!

    After the area closed permanently, I used to go back and look at the ruins.

    As the county continued to explode with “city people” I sadly left for good.

    Many fond memories!

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