If you’re like many other outdoor enthusiasts, you may have found yourself newly enamored with cross-country skiing over the past few years.
Perhaps that sounds random. Nothing could be further from the truth. The global coronavirus pandemic, which was marked by economic shutdowns worldwide, forced people to get more creative with how they went about their leisure activities. Cross-country skiing provided a safe haven, since it’s outdoors and easy to social distance. It is also extremely affordable in comparison to Alpine skiing.
Many, of course, might just have been drawn to skiing in general after watching the Olympics. Exposure to outdoor sports reaches a cyclical fever pitch whenever they’re constantly being televised and the competitions are being covered by the most popular outlets and best online sportsbooks in the business.
Beyond that, cross-country skiing is overwhelmingly accessible. It is more exhibitionist than competitive or taxing. Almost anyone can do it because it’s so low impact. You’re mostly just gliding along on snowy paths without many obstacles, such as hills, drops or mountainous regions. Cross-country skiing, in other words, is a sport for pretty much anyone.
Finally, some people are just in love with being outdoors and taking in gorgeous scenery. Cross-country skiing provides that opportunity without the prerequisite of needing any experience at all—provided you know where to go.
With that in mind, we’ve searched high and low across the world wide web and pieced together our list of the best cross-country skiing destinations for beginners. Our only set of criteria: single out the most beautiful places that promise the most carefree, smooth-riding experiences for people who haven’t been cross-country skiing that many times or even at all.
Pineland Farms (New Gloucester, Maine)
This resort is located fewer than 50 miles from Portland and has a 5,000 acre property that also features an active farm and equestrian activities on top of seemingly endless amounts of trails designed by a former Olympic athlete.
Cross-country skiing newcomers, in particular, will be treated to a host of different trail options on which they can learn how to glide seamlessly while taking in the pearly-white sky that appears to go on forever. But Pineland Farms doesn’t just strive to service beginners. They have a handful of more difficult trails for skiers of varying experience, making this a place for everyone.
The only downside: This resort is light on overnight amenities. Though there are plenty of dining options, it has fewer than a half-dozen cabins available for rental, so you’ll want to plan on staying off-property if you visit.
Trapp Family Lodge (Stowe, Vermont)
Why yes, the “Trapp Family” in “Trapp Family Lodge” does refer to the von Trapp family from the Sound of Music. They added trails to their hotel amenities back in 1968, according to the New York Times—a whole 65 kilometers worth.
Similar to Pineland Farms, the Trapp Family Lodge specializes in Nordic trails designed for beginners but also includes options for those with more experience—including one or two with fairly steep drops.
Another benefit to visiting the Trapp Family Lodge? The other resorts around them. A bunch of other trail offerings opened up after the von Trapps carved out their own, so skiers can easily stick around the area for a while and resort hop.
Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center (Gorham, New Hampshire)
Great Glen Trails is known for its spectacular panoramic views of Mount Washington, right around the Presidential Range, in addition to its beginner-friendly skiing routes. Patrons can feel like they’re galaxies removed from the grind of everyday society when they spend just a few hours on these inviting slopes.
Even better, Great Glen Trails increases their appeal to beginner skiers with their vast selection of rental equipment and tutorial classes. You can literally arrive with no experience at all and leave after having traveled with an instructor through sprawling, miles-long paths.
That’s a huge win.
Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail (Snowmass, Colorado)
Expert skiers may recognize Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail for its world-renowned Alpine skiing. But it’s also proficient in cross-country skiing opportunities.
This resort offers more than 90 kilometers of expertly groomed trails that allow novices to focus more on the surrounding sights and nature and less on standing upright. Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail also boasts one of the deepest selections of beginner, intermediate and expert trails all at once.
What’s more, unlike a place such as Pineland Farms, Aspen Snowmass is in close proximity to a bunch of top-rated hotels. So, it’s easy to both extend your stay and minimize the time you spend commuting to and from the trails.