While alpine (or downhill) skiing may be the golden child of winter, cold weather enthusiasts know it’s not the only game in town. Cross-country skiing, also called Nordic skiing, is another great option for being active—and getting outdoors—during the winter months.
And while the sport requires no less skill (or patience or perseverance) to master, it does require less altitude—which makes it not only more accessible, but more affordable, too.
Ready to navigate like they do in the Nordics? Here are six destinations in the U.S. with great cross-country skiing trails and facilities.
1. Marquette, Michigan
Marquette, located in Michigan’s rustic Upper Peninsula, is home to Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN)—a seven-trail system featuring over 75 miles of cross-country skiing trails. Founded in 2001 to promote the use of a non-motorized trail network, NTN is maintained by community volunteers and local land owners. Skiers can visit the NTN website for regular updates on trail grooming and conditions.
2. Lake Placid, New York
Once a host city for the Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid, New York is steeped in state-of-the-art winter sport facilities. In particular, Mount Van Hoevenberg, home to the Lake Placid Nordic Center, offers over 30 miles of trails for cross-country skiing enthusiasts.
Never cross-country skied before? Get started with a two-hour lesson from a Professional Ski Instructors of America certified instructor.
Tip: Be sure to upload your day passes—and forward your equipment rental bookings, lesson reservations, and more—to TripIt to create a seamless itinerary for your trip all in one place.
3. Eau Claire, Wisconsin
With 60 acres of groomed and lit trails, Eau Claire’s Pinehurst Park is a cross-country skier’s paradise. The city’s family-friendly program, Winter After Hours, promotes winter recreation (including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, and free hot chocolate!) every Thursday in January and February.
Winter-sport enthusiasts can also cross-country ski at many of the city’s other public parks, including Boyd Park, Demmler Park, and Lowes Creek County Park.
Read more: 8 Cities That Embrace Winter
4. Jackson, New Hampshire
While New Hampshire’s White Mountains are probably best known for alpine skiing, the region is also home to Jackson XC—a 93-mile expanse of groomed trails for all levels of cross-country skiers, as well as race courses for the mature skier.
The trail system also connects to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s network of backcountry adventure trails, if you’re so inclined (or want to try your hand at snowshoeing).
5. Tabernash, Colorado
Voted the best cross-country ski trails in North America for four years running, Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa in Tabernash, Colorado is home to 75 miles of groomed trails located at the base of the continental divide.
Skiers can choose from day passes, season passes, a variety of rental types, and more. Lessons are available for novice skiers.
And for those not interested in cross-country skiing, there are plenty of other activities to partake in, including sleigh rides, snowshoeing, tubing, yoga, and more.
Related reading: Flying During the Winter: 4 Ways to Prepare
6. Ripton, Vermont
Ripton, Vermont is home to the Rikert Nordic Center, an inclusive and family-friendly cross-country skiing facility with almost 35 miles of trails. There, you’ll ski through picturesque forests, rolling fields—and even past poet Robert Frost’s summer cabin.
Ready to up your XC skiing ante? Race around Tormondsen Trail, a 3.1-mile loop once used for the NCAA skiing championships.
Lessons and rentals are available at the center.