Cross-country skiing offers a fantastic way to glide through the wonderland of a New York winter. Invigorating yet relaxing, it's easy to learn, inexpensive, and provides a great full-body work-out.
New York has trails for every style and skill level - from beginner to back-country explorer-at parks, forest preserves, ski resorts, and nearly 50 cross-country ski centers across the state. Some trails are fully groomed, and even lighted for night-time skiing, while others are pristine powder.
Beginners can get the most out of an excursion by taking a one-hour class with a ski instructor to learn basic techniques like how to turn, go down a hill, and slow down. Most ski centers offer instruction, equipment rental and other amenities. Accommodations range from cozy cabins to posh resorts.
In the Hudson Valley, just north of New York City, you'll find trails for all levels. Ski the picturesque grounds of the Mohonk Mountain House, or Fahnestock Winter Park, known for its great high forest snow base.
Options in the Catskills range from the 19-mile Catskill Scenic Trail, on a former railroad bed, to Plattekill Mountain Resort, offering winter fun for the whole family with a tubing park as well as skiing.
Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, in the Capital-Saratoga region, features 30 miles of groomed trails and backcountry skiing in the foothills of the Taconic and Berkshire Mountains, along with lessons, rentals, a ski shop and unique skating trails.
Glide through towering white pines in the tranquil Adirondack woods. Lake Placid's Olympic Sports Complex at Mt Van Hoevenberg, one of the premier venues of North America, has 31 miles of impeccably groomed trails for all levels. Along with equipment rentals, the lodge houses a sports shop and café.
Lapland Lake is a Finnish-flavored resort with trails designed by a former Olympic skier. Garnet Hill Lodge's 34 miles of cross-country trails, from novice to expert, include a lighted trail for night skiing. There's also plenty of backcountry trails and guided tours in the adjacent Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area.
Trails at Wellesley Island State Park in the Thousand Islands-Seaway region, follow miles of shoreline. In the Snowbelt, east of Lake Ontario, lake-effect snow covers the entire Tug Hill Plateau with an annual average of 300 inches. Cross-country skiers find easy sliding in Central New York at Osceola Tug Hill as well as state and county parks like Greenwood Park, in Lisle.
In the Finger Lakes, Bristol Mountain's night-lighted cross-country trails climb up to the summit. Beaver Lake Nature Center and Highland Forest Park feature miles of groomed trails plus snowshoeing and horse-drawn sleighrides.
Recently voted "Best of Western NY" by Buffalo Spree magazine, Byrncliff Resort in the Greater Niagara region is a premier destination for cross-country skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers. Enjoy cozy on-site lodging and varied trails that keep novices and advanced skiers entertained. Miles of ungroomed powder beckons trailblazers to the hills of Darien Lakes State Park.
Allegany State Park gets five stars for some of the finest cross-country ski trails in the Northeast - along with 150 winterized cabins. Further west, the diversity of terrain at Peek'n Peak Resort provides options for every level of cross-country skier.
Pack a snack, snap on some skis, and step onto New York's snowy carpet. Let yourself go into the peaceful calm of a beautiful winter day.
To get you started, information on many New York State cross-country ski areas is accessible by using the regional map at right. See nysparks.com for information on skiing in New York State Parks.