“The cross – country ski industry expects a significant increase in the number of skiers this season, based on increased interest in outdoor activities,” says Reese Brown, executive director of the Cross-Country Ski Association. But don’t worry: there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out. If you’ve never considered Cross-country skiing before, this may be the winter you’re doing. It’s a good way to go out and explore the local areas, and naturally it’s a crowd-free activity. While you can ski through the woods on your own, the designated cross-country ski area comes with a toilet, trail maps, equipment rentals, and instructions. In any case, imagine empty trails through a wide open forest, unlike mountain ski resorts, little in the form of lines, loggias, and expensive tickets. Here are seven of our favorite places to enjoy the sport.
Tahoe City, California
The Tahoe XC (one-day tickets from $ 36) isn’t the biggest area on this list, it offers about 30 miles of well-groomed trails-about a quarter the size of the most famous Royal Gorge-within a 45-minute drive, but it’s full of character and charm. Located in Tahoe City, California, it is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from San Francisco. From the top of the Lakeview climb, you’ll get a panoramic view of the largest Alpine lake in North America and a wooden bench to catch your breath. You will find three cabins that are heated, special trails for snow shoeing, and six miles of trails for dogs. Homemade chocolate chip cookies, usually available in a jar in the dorm, will be served this year.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch
The best way to explore the 75 miles of cross-country ski trails at Devil’s Thumb Ranch is to stay at the hotel. The complex has 15 private cabins of various sizes, as well as accommodation rooms (starting at $ 279). Currently, spa treatments such as massages and body baths are only available for guests of the lodge with COVID-19 protocols. But you don’t need to be an overnight visitor to enjoy the trails, which are open to day-trippers for a $ 30 ticket. There is also the option of cycling with thick tires on the trails, as the resort offers bike rental and guided tours. You are just 20 minutes away on a downhill ski trip at Winter Park Resort and less than two hours away from Denver.
It will take you four hours to get to the Metaw Valley from Seattle, but it’s worth it. This remote corner of Northern Washington looks like Switzerland with its jagged snow-capped peaks. Home to the largest cross-country ski area in North America, Methow Trails has over 125 miles of trails (one-day tickets from $ 25; those under 17 or over 75 free skis). Sections of the system allow you to ride on thick tires, snowshoe and ski with your dog. The slopes of the Rendezvous hut, which you can connect for skiing from cottage to cottage, are booked months in advance. Instead, check out six elegant architect-designed huts (starting at $ 145) nine miles to the northwest, or find other accommodations in the nearby towns of Winthrop, Twisp, or Mazama.
Theodore Wirth Regional Park
You won’t find the best cross-country skiing so close to a major metropolis. The extensive trail system in the state of Theodore Wirth Regional Park (one-day tickets from $ 20) has more than 20 miles of trails running through secluded forests, with views of the Minneapolis skyline. Cross-country skiing lessons for all ages. The World Cup cross-country skiing event was supposed to be held here last March, it would have been the first Nordic World Ski Championships in the United States in almost two decades, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.
You’ll arrive at Galena Lodge in Idaho (one-day tickets from $ 18) for cross-country skiing-there are more than 30 miles of perfectly prepared trails through a stunning stretch of Sawtooth National Forest, but you’ll stay for a meal. The on-site restaurant serves steaming bowls of curry, soup and Chili, as well as European-style sausage dishes and freshly baked pastries. This winter, the vintage camper will also have a food truck that offers easy service. Stay in a yurt on site (starting at $ 150) or in the nearby town of Ketchum. Skiing in Sunny Valley is just a 30-minute drive away.
Dorchester, New Hampshire
There is so much love in Green Woodlands, a private plot of land between the towns of Lyme and Dorchester, New Hampshire, about two hours north of Boston. The family, which runs the Green Woodlands Foundation, has opened up the land to mountain bikers in the summer and nordic skiers in the winter, clearing about 30 miles of trails and stocking up on four warm huts with hot chocolate. There is no fee for skiing here, all you are asked for is a positive attitude along the way. Skis and boots are even provided free of charge through the anor system. The tracks were designed by a former Dartmouth College ski coach and Olympic biathlete named John Morton.
You can also ski for free at the atMeissner Nordic, a network of trails on U.S. Forest Service land. However, you will need a 4sno-Park parking permit, and donations to use the trail are recommended. The club that supports the area also keeps warming huts near the wood-burning trail. Show up for night skiing with a full moon, when the trails are filled with light bags with candles, or opt for free ski training days where volunteers teach lessons and local ski shops hand out free rentals.