While downhill skiing might make the best Youtube videos, nothing can beat the aerobic treat that is cross-country skiing. Hopping on cross-country skis for the first time might feel like a slippery lesson in physics, but once you get into your stride with cross-country skis, traveling any other way in the snow just feels slow. Throughout the country and across the snowiest states, large centers and trail systems have been created for your cross-country amusement, and to get your skis pointed in the right direction, here are 12 of the best cross-country ski trails systems in the states (and BC):
The Birkie Trail – Hayward, Wisconsin
Coming in at 107 km long, stretching from Hayward to Cable, Wisconsin, the Birkie Trail is one of the longer ski trails in North America. Completely maintained by the non-profit 501 ©(3) American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, they also host the American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon each year in February, which at 53 km. is the longest ski marathon in the country. With so much groomed trail to ride, there is a lot to explore in the north woods of Wisconsin, and it could take you all winter to see everything that the Birkie Trail has to offer.
Trapp Family Lodge – Stowe, Vermont
Touted as the first cross-country ski center in the country, the Trapp Family Lodge has got it figured out when it comes to skiing in style. That’s because, on top of their 37 miles of groomed trails, and 62 miles of backcountry accessibility after you’ve had a successful day gliding in your ski boots, you can relax in the comfort of the Austrian-inspired lodging in the villas and suites of the Trapp Family Lodge.
Cascade Ski Center – Lake Placid, New York
Located squarely in the center of Lake Placid, New York, high in the Adirondacks is a cross country ski haven. While the Cascade Ski Center is a good example of this cross-country skiing mecca, including with it a ski shop, ski rentals, ski lessons, and full-moon parties, it is only a part of the bigger picture. The 20 groomed miles of the Cascade Ski Center also connects to the trails of Mt. Van Hoevenberg and Jack Rabbit Trails, creating a winter-length of fun to be had.
Giant’s Ridge – Biwabik, Minnesota
Giant’s Ridge might have 35 downhill ski runs and 2 top-notch snowboard terrain parks, but within the cross-country skiing community, they are easily best known for their 60 km of pure Minnesotan groomed goodness. Winding through Superior National Forest, these scenic roller coaster trails were once used by the US Ski Team as training grounds and now stand proudly as an iconic route depicting cross-country skiing at its finest.
Methow Trails – Winthrop, Washington
Known in Washington and around the country as North America’s largest cross-country ski area, the Methow Trails in Winthrop deliver on everything and more you’d expect from the Cascade Mountains. With over five distinct sections of trails, and unique lodging and mountain town environments surrounding each one, Winthrop has long been a beacon of light in the cross-country ski community, attracting skiers from across the globe to come to play in the Cascade snow.
Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort – Soda Springs, California
Laying claim to North America’s largest ski resort, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Royal Gorge offers more than a couple of options for winter fun. Six distinct ski sections comprise Royal Gorge, providing over 200 km of trails, and while all that pristine cross-country skiing might bring you to Royal Gorge in the first place, it’s the first-class accommodations that will make you never want to leave.
Rendezvous Ski Trails – West Yellowstone, Montana
Home to perhaps one of the greatest cross-country ski festivals to celebrate the start of a season, the Yellowstone Ski Festival, the Rendezvous Ski Trails located in West Yellowstone, Montana consist of 35 km of freshly groomed trails that zig and zag through Rocky Mountain scenery, allowing for to not only get your daily dose of exercise, but also enjoy the sights along the way.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters – Higgins Lake, Michigan
Michigan might take the cake with perfect cross-country skiing, and they can attribute that to the flat and rolling terrain that gets blanketed by buckets of snow each winter season. The Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Higgins Lake, Michigan is literally just that, your cross-country ski headquarters, and that’s because, between their high-quality ski rentals and for-purchase selection, day lodge, professional guides, and 18 km of pristine trails, the Cross Country Ski Headquarters has everything you need to have some fun this winter.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa – Tabernash, Colorado
There are a lot of quality cross-country ski trails to be found in Colorado, and on top of that list should be Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa. After you’re done skiing the 40+ km of pristine Rocky Mountain trails, you can treat yourself to the entire resort and spa package at Devil’s Thumb including hot tubs, great food, and perhaps a toddy or two as you rest by the fire.
Sun Valley Nordic Center – Sun Valley, Idaho
Offering everything and more that you could be looking for in a cross-country skiing adventure, the Sun Valley Nordic Center not only has 40 km of trails groomed daily, but you can also expect to find top quality rentals, professional guides, and instructors, and best of all, the fresh air found in Idaho and throughout the mountainous terrain. A perfect place for skiers of all levels, you can find some fun all winter long at Sun Valley Nordic Center.
Soldier Hollow Cross-Country Skiing Resort – Midway, Utah
Featuring Olympic training tracks, Soldier Hollow can accommodate even those skiers who have “seen it all” and provide an adventure worthy of the most worldly athletes. But just because the best of the best go here to train, don’t think that there aren’t any tracks out there for the beginner, and in fact, the design of the trail system was made to emphasize skiing for everyone. The result—everyone can enjoy skiing at Soldier Hollow.
Silver Star Mountain Resort – British Columbia, Canada
Okay so this might not be in the US, but it certainly is close, and it’s too good to miss. Not only are there 55 km of groomed cross country trails within the Silver Star Mountain Resort boundaries, but with a Dual Mountain Cross-Country Skiing Pass, you can also have access to an additional 50 km of connecting trails at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre. That means you can use up the whole season exploring the perfect snow of BC and never get tired of the same old scenery passing you by.