Cross-country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing, is a great way to get outdoors during the winter months. Unlike downhill skiing, it involves schussing along flat trails through snowy woodland, making it a much calmer way to enjoy the snow. Massachusetts, in particular, it dotted with gorgeous cross-country ski centers – we round up the best, so you can start planning your next snowy adventure.
Canterbury Farm Ski Touring Center
Located in the stunning Berkshire Hills, the Canterbury Farm offers 13.6mi (22km) of groomed trails for cross-country skiers. The trails pass by beaver ponds, brooks, stone walls, mountains and streams on the 160 acres (65ha) of woodland. Meander through the great outdoors on your own, or take a ski lesson from a guide. The center also operates a bed and breakfast for those looking to cross-country ski for more than a day trip.
The Blue Hills Reservation is a state-owned park that covers over 7,000 acres (2,833ha) across six towns. Though Blue Hills is known for its hiking trails and downhill ski area, not as many people are aware that the reservation is open throughout the winter for cross-country skiers. There isn’t any man-made snow at this reservation, so plan your ski endeavors according to the next big snowstorm. Take in the winter scenery, frozen wetlands and evergreen trees as you choose between ski routes of up to 2.5mi.
The Great Brook Farm State Park offers cross-country skiers over 10mi (16km) of groomed trails that weave across the 1,000-acre (996ha) park. Buy your day pass from the center then cruise along the easy Lantern Loop or take on the more challenging Woodchuck Trail. You don’t even have to bring cross-country skis with you – there is a huge rental center here, plus it offers night skiing on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Bring a picnic to eat at the lodge (a converted cow barn) afterwards.
Minuteman Bikeway is an 11mi (18km) trail that becomes more than a bikeway during the winter months. Cross-country skiers can enjoy the trail while they travel through the towns of Bedford, Lexington, Arlington and Cambridge. It is ideal for those living in the nearby city and is best for skiing after a snowstorm, as some areas may be plowed.
Accessible (Wheelchair), Dog Friendly, Family Friendly
Borderland State Park
Borderland State Park in North Easton, Massachusetts has over 1,700 acres (688ha) of land, providing trails for skiers of all levels. Ski through the Ames Estate on open carriage roads, or take the popular trail around Leach Pond. Skiers can stop at the visitor’s center to learn more about the park and estate.
From early December to early April, Notchview is open for cross-country skiing through 3,000 acres (1,214ha) of woodland. Schuss down the 17km (10.5mi) of groomed trails – there’s even separate tracks for skijoring (skiing with dogs). Notchview does get more snow than the neighboring valley towns and can be 10 degrees colder, so come prepared. Head to the Budd Visitor Center to warm up with a hot coffee. If you really fall in love with the region, you can get married outdoors here!
The Weston Ski Track is only 13mi (21km) from Boston and has over 9mi (15km) of beautifully groomed, natural-snow trails. The paths wind through the trees and offer scenic views of the Charles River. Beginners can sign up for cross-country ski lessons here (either as an adult or child group or privately). Talented kids can also take part in the Bill Koch Youth Ski League, competing in cross-country ski races across Eastern Massachusetts. The ski track also offers night skiing and snowshoeing.
Gates Pond in Berlin, Massachusetts offers a smaller, less-crowded destination for those looking to cross-country ski. The trail is 2.4mi (4km), and takes skiers around the frozen pond and through the woods. This easy loop is a perfect place to practice cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, and it is ideal for anyone looking to enjoy the great outdoors on a short and scenic path.
With 25mi (40km) of tracks, Northfield Mountain offers some of the finest cross-country skiing in the state. There are beginner trails aplenty as well as the more challenging 800ft (244m) climb up Tenth Mountain. You can rent cross-country skis and snowshoes on site. There are plenty of places to take a break – from the big lunch room to the weekend trailside warming hut. It is worth noting that trails are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except for public holidays. Ring ahead to check the snow conditions before setting off.
Located in the foothills of the Berkshires, Maple Corner Farm has 20km (12mi) of marked cross-country trails, with a further 10km (6mi) of snowshoeing too. At 1,400ft (427m) above sea level, each winter brings decent snow cover. Take the easy Rocky Road to get warmed up, before tackling the trickier Sugar Bush, through meadows and along mountain streams. It also produces maple syrup (hence the name) from mid-February, so tuck into pancakes with freshly-made syrup after skiing, or buy some maple candy or maple cream to take home with you.