Twelve of the Best Cross-Country Ski Trails in the US

©istockphoto/vmWhile 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.