Operating a free winter park for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing is quite an endeavor. There is so much that goes into turning a golf course into a winter park when the snow hits each year. For a town like Greenfield, this doesn’t happen without the dreams and dedication of many volunteers. It takes passion and devotion to push the endeavor into a reality. Resident Steve Schriber has earned the moniker “Father of Brookhaven Winter Park” for this reason.
When he purchased 22 acres on Alpine Meadows Road in 1989, it was an ideal location for him to build a home for many reasons, not the least of which was nearby golf and skiing. The neighborhood featured a golf course, hundreds of acres of woods and Alpine Meadows Adirondack Ski Center providing downhill skiing. Alpine Meadows operated for its last year in 1992, which left Steve without a winter sport to keep busy. Fate had it that his wife Laura purchased matching backcountry skis to use right out their back door — and the rest is history. To improve his skiing experience, he started grooming trails on his property and the surrounding area first fashioning an old metal sign into a groomer and towing it behind a Ski-Doo. Building ski trails and upgrading equipment became his passion and over the next more than 25 years, he worked to expand his network of trails to more than 15 kilometers. Schriber said his goal is to provide an opportunity for members of the community to enjoy the peaceful, unhurried pace of cross-country skiing that he and his family enjoy.
“We love nature and nothing beats gliding over the snow through a quiet, light snowfall,” he said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”
The golf course and property next door served as a country club of sorts for International Paper in Corinth, until Greenfield received it as a donation in 2011. Over the next many years, our Town Supervisors have asked him to continue his efforts. By 2014, Steve organized trail maintenance “parties” in the fall to help him trim trails and shore up bridges. Each year, the group kept adding more trails and the town’s Recreation Department began planning events and promoting the park in 2017.
Schriber has proven his passion and commitment to cross-country skiing at Brookhaven many times over. He has invested more than 100 hours of trail work and grooming each year and estimates a personal investment of more than $20,000 over the years.
Schriber said, “Keeping the trail network open is not just about pulling a groomer around. Forested trails must be checked for debris whenever excessive winds blow. When the snow comes, grooming is best done after dark with temperatures often below zero. It takes a patient, understanding wife who allows her husband out on the trails at midnight in minus ten degree temperatures.”
Today, Schriber is one of approximately a dozen volunteers who work together to run the park, under the town’s Recreation Director. By 2021, the town had procured a large, four-wheel UTV with a wide, high-tech groomer to allow the great expanses of fairway trails to be groomed with one pass instead of two. The experienced groomers continue to hone their skills to provide the best possible experience for skiing guests.
To build skills, access trail accessories and network with others in the business, Steve has been a member of the Cross-Country Ski Area Association for more than ten years. This provides an added bonus of giving Brookhaven Winter Park a presence in an international directory of ski areas.
“All the volunteers in the winter park play key roles,” Schriber said. “We all want to work together to make the park succeed.”
Recreation Director Jennifer Zeisler said is the spirit of volunteerism that keeps the park alive, along with the ongoing support of town officials, and the Highway Department, Grounds & Maintenance, and Recreation.
“This park is a perfect example of what makes the Greenfield community special,” Zeisler said. “These caring volunteers, along with the support of the many residents and families who use the park, make our town a magical, loving place to live.”
It is easy for Schriber to assert what he thinks makes Brookhaven Winter Park special. “Although it is close to Saratoga Springs, we get 50% more snow on average because our elevation is approximately 500 feet higher. Even when there are many cars in the parking lot, people just seem to disappear into the trails and you can feel the silence.” He and his wife prefer the blue and red trails through the woods, as he feels they are challenging, picture perfect after a snowfall, and keep you out of the wind.
“How many people in Saratoga County are blessed with a cross-country trails system of this caliber right in their backyard?” he said.
Schriber said he is very excited for the town to finish work on its pavilion at the park, adding electric and restrooms to the area. He was delighted that in 2010 an on-site restaurant became part of the scene. He frequents The View at Brookhaven today, enjoying the Fiddlehead on tap and many of the menu items like buffalo mac and cheese, buffalo chicken dip, salads and “awesome” specials.
Town Supervisor Kevin Veitch added, “We are certainly thankful to Steve Schriber and his family, who in building their home and life together, have helped make our community an even better place.”
What started as an avid outdoorsman and his wife trekking through their own woods has now turned into approximately 20 kilometers of beautifully groomed trails each winter. After thirty years, this “Father of Brookhaven Winter Park” is still very much involved every day.