Outdoors

5 must-visit cross-country ski areas

Miles of trails; a season of winter fun

By Makayla-Courtney McGeeney

In New England, there are plenty of winter sports to keep busy until summer returns. For those who might not take to downhill skiing or snowboarding, there are other enjoyable outdoor activities, such as cross-country skiing.

While cross-country skiing is a popular Olympic sport, it originated as a form of travel over snow-covered terrain in the 19th century, especially in Norway, for the purpose of hunting and gathering firewood, according to the Olympic Games website. Nordic countries
traditionally dominate the sport. Americans weren’t exposed to it until Bill Koch participated in a 1980 Swedish marathon, according to the International Skiing History Association.

Southern Vermont and Western Massachusetts are rich in ski mountains, wilderness trails and rolling hills, but only some can be used for cross-country skiing. Just like other Olympic sports, cross-country skiing can be performed at a leisurely effort. Get your winter thrills at these hidden gems while the snow is still here.


Scott Stafford.

Notchview

Open daily, 8 to 4:30 p.m.
Route 9, Windsor, Mass.
413-684-0148
notchview.org

Get the view without a chairlift while trekking part of the Hoosac Range more than 2,000 feet tall — the highest point, at 2,297 feet. This is where snow lasts the longest, approximately 80 days out of the year.

“It’s got an incredible rugged beauty up there,” said Thomas Por, general manager of The Trustees northwest properties. “Certainly, there’s a community of familiar faces … but it’s also very welcoming to beginners and people who are just interested in trying out skiing.”

With more than 3,000 acres of open meadow and scenic forest, Notchview is the perfect outdoor winter escape. There’s no shortage of wildlife, including tracks of deer, moose and snowshoe hare. The Budd Visitor Center entails ski and snowshoe rentals, a cafe and a spot to warm up. Notchview is open year-round and offers lessons in the winter.

“Notchview is a great place to motivate people to get outdoors,” Por said. “It’s been happening there for decades.”
Notchview is adjacent to Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts (S.A.M.) Route 91 that links snowmobile trails from Connecticut to Vermont. It is located on the north side of Route 9 in Windsor.

Photo courtesy of Northfield .

Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center

Open Wednesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
99 Millers Falls Road, Northfield, Mass.
800-859-2960 (for most current conditions)
facebook.com/northfieldmountain

Just beyond Greenfield and east of Bernardston awaits a winter wonderland with 25 miles of trails groomed specifically for cross-country skiing — classical and freestyle. From beginner trails to a demanding 800-foot vertical climb, Northfield has terrain for every skier.

A lack of snow in November and early December kept the center’s trails open for hiking and walking. Hikers and pets are prohibited during the ski season.

In order to ski at Northfield, purchase a trail pass that ranges from $9 to $16 with the option of a full day or after 1:30 p.m. Seniors older than 70 and children 7 and younger can ski for free. Ski rentals cost up to $24, depending on the time of day and age of the skier. Lessons are available for 90 minutes in groups or $25 per person on weekends and weekdays by appointment.

Photo: Caroline Bonniver Snyder.

Hilltop Orchards

Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
508 Canaan Road (Route 295), Richmond, Mass.
800-833-6274
hilltoporchards.com

What happens when you combine an apple orchard with a winery on 200 acres of historic property? You ski on it upon snowfall.
The Vittori family has owned Hilltop Orchards for about 33 years and welcomes the public for apple picking, wine tasting, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

The trails amount to about 7 miles and are groomed accordingly, said David Martell, manager and operator. The owners opened up the land to hiking and skiing about 10 years ago.

Two of the trails, the Johnny Mash I and II, were designed by Winter Olympian John Morton.

For those who aren’t inclined to ski, or want to take a break from the powder, the Barrel Room offers respite from the cold. Warm up in front of fire on leather couches while enjoying a mug of hot chocolate or a glass of wine.

Photo courtesy of Wild Wings.

Wild Wings Ski Touring Center

Open daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
246 Styles Lane, Peru, Vt.
802-824-6793

With three different-color loop trails, you’re never alone at Wild Wings. The newest trail, Peregrine, was designed by Ian Black and Olympian Bill Koch. Owner Tracy Black says its suitable to train up-and-coming racers on, as well as for intermediate skiers. Peregrine is open for skate and classic skiing.

“People just like to be out in the woods. It’s very safe,” Black said.

Glide by beaver ponds and brooks on the green trails, herringbone and work up a sweat on the blue trails or conquer the black trails with the steepest of hills.

The center runs a blog that’s frequently updated with trail and weather conditions, as well as announcements about the yoga schedule.

Photo courtesy of Viking Nordic.

Viking Nordic Center

Open daily, except for Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
615 Little Pond Rd, Londonderry, Vt.
802-824-3933
vikingnordic.com

Featured on Trip Savvy’s 10 Places to Snowshoe and Cross-Country Ski in Vermont, the Viking Nordic Center offers about 22 miles of trails, and some even lit with gas lanterns at night. Trails are lit for holidays and long weekends or exclusively for private events, said Manager Malcolm McNair. Snowshoes and cross-country skis are for rent. Some trails are exclusive to snowshoers.

“We’ve been here a long time. There’s second and third generation of families who come,” he said. “We have a lot to offer. Almost all of our trails are wooded, so it’s not like skiing on a golf course. We do have fields on some of the outer trails.”

Viking has a warming hut at the base of the center, along with a cafe and a shelter to break from the cold along the trails. For children 12 and younger, Viking offers a cookie punch card. The children get the punch card stamped at checkpoints on the trail and, at the end, are rewarded with a cookie. A similar hunt is available for adults if they take photos with Viking heads on the trails.

The center is open until April 1, weather depending, and every day except Wednesday.



Notchview. Photo: Ben Garver.

Where to ski

We advise readers to call ahead before heading out to any of these ski areas, as weather conditions and snow totals can affect hours of operation. Rates listed are subject to change. Many, if not all, of these locations ask that canine companions be left at home.

In Western Massachusetts …

Canterbury Farm

Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1986 Fred Snow Road, Becket, Mass.
413-623-0100
canterbury-farms.com

22 kilometers of trails specifically designed for cross-country skiing. Groomed daily. Beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain.

Trail fees:
Weekdays (nonholiday) and half-day weekend after 2 p.m.: adults, $14; children and seniors, $12.
Weekends and holidays (holiday ticket prices apply to all school vacation weeks.): adults, $16; seniors and children, ages 5 to 12, are $14. Children younger than 5 are free.
Season pass: $150 for adults; $110 for children younger than 12.

Rentals: adults, $22; children, $16.
Ski lessons are available.

Hilltop Orchards

Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
508 Canaan Road (Route 295), Richmond, Mass.
800-833-6274
hilltoporchards.com

Hilltop Orchards, home to Furnace Brook Winery, features several miles of trials groomed for classic and skating-style skiing, as well as snowshoeing. The trails were designed by John Morton, a seven-time participant in the Winter Olympics as an athlete, coach and leader of the U.S. biathlon team.

Trails fees:
Daily: adults, $15; children, 12 and younger, $12. $1 off for seniors. No charge for guests of Garden Gables Inn
Half-day: (Starts at 2 p.m.): adults, $12; children 12 and younger, $10.
Season pass: $125 for adults; $75 for children 12 and younger.

Rentals: Rossignol cross-country skis, $20.
Ski lessons are available. $10.
Season pass: $125 for adults; $75 for children 12 and younger.
Rentals: Rossignol cross-country skis, $20.
Ski lessons are available.

Maple Corner Farm

Open daily
794 Beech Hill Road, Granville, Mass.
413-357-8829
maplecornerfarm.com

Featuring 20 kilometers of marked ski trails from beginner to expert; machine groomed for traditional and skating styles.

Trail fees:
Weekdays: adults, $10; children, ages 6 to 12, $6; children younger than 5 are free.
Weekends and holidays: adults, $14; children ages 6 to 12, $9; children younger than 5 are free.
Weekends and holidays (after 1:30 p.m.): adults, $12; children ages 6 to 12, $8; children younger than 5 are free.
Season pass: $70 for adults; $35 for children ages 6 to 12; $130 for a couple.

Rentals: adults, $12 on weekdays; $14 on weekends and holidays; children, ages 6 to 12, $8 on weekdays, $10 on weekends. Children younger than 5, $6 on weekdays, $8 on weekends and holidays.
Ski lessons are available.

Northfield Mountain

Open Wednesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
99 Millers Falls Road, Northfield, Mass.
800-859-2960 (for most current conditions)
facebook.com/northfieldmountain

25 miles of trails groomed for classical skiing. Trails vary from beginner and intermediate to an 800-foot vertical climb of the Tenth Mountain Trail.

Trail fees:
Daily: adults (15 to 61), $16; juniors (8 to 14), $11; senior (62 to 69), $15; super seniors, 70 and older, and children ages 7 and younger are free.
Half-day (after 1:30 p.m.): adults (15 to 61), $14; juniors (8 to 14), $9; senior (62 to 69), $13; super seniors, 70 and older, and children ages 7 and younger are free.

Rentals: adults, $20; juniors, $14
Ski lessons are available.

Notchview

Open daily, 8 to 4:30 p.m.
Route 9, Windsor, Mass.
413-684-0148
notchview.org

Featuring 40 kilometers of trails: 16 km of classic groomed; 11 km groomed for skate skiing, 2 km of dog loop and 11 km of ungroomed trails.

Trail fees:
Notchview ski passes are $40 for adults. A Trustees of the Reservations membership is also required. Memberships start at $50 for one person; $70 for a family (two adults, two children younger than 18).

Rental shop on site.
Ski lessons are available.

In Southern Vermont …

Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home

Open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Skiing is weather-dependent.
1005 Hildene Road, Manchester, Vt.
802-362-1788
hildene.org

The estate’s nearly 20 km of walking trails become ski trails with varying levels of difficulty in the winter. Trails are not groomed. Skiing is included with the price of admission.

Admission: adults, $23; children, ages 6 to 16, $6; children younger than 6 and members are free.
Rentals: $15

Prospect Mountain

204 Prospect Access, Woodford, Vt.
802-442-2575
prospectmountain.net

Prospect Mountain maintains more than 30 kilometers of trails. Trails are expertly groomed for classic and skating cross-country skiing.

Trail fees:
Daily: adults, $22; children 12 and younger, and seniors 65 and older, $17; children 5 and younger are free.
Late Day (after 2 p.m. in December/January and after 3 p.m. February/March/April): adults, $16; children 12 and younger, and seniors, 65 and older, $14; children 5 and younger are free.

Rentals: $17 to $20
Passes are available.
Ski lessons are available.

Wild Wings Ski Touring Center

Open daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
246 Styles Lane, Peru, Vt.
802-824-6793
wildwingsski.com

Featuring 18 km of groomed trail loops for all levels.

Trail fees:
Daily: adults, $22; children ages 6 to 17, $12.
Half-day (any four-hour block): adults, $17; children ages 6 to 17, $9.
Season pass: $250 for adults; $400 for couples; $90 for children ages 6 to $17; $445 for a family consisting of two parents and up to four children (22 and younger).

Rentals are available.
Lessons are available.

Brattleboro Outing Club

Open daily
Skiing at Brattleboro Country Club
58 Senator Gannett Drive, Brattleboro, Vt.
802-254-8906 (ski hut, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and school vacations.)
brattleborooutingclub.org

33 km of groomed fairway, field and forest loops for classic and skate ski, as snow and weather conditions warrant.

Trail fees:
Guest pass (Guests are able to use the trails three times per season. A membership is required beyond that.)
Weekdays: adults, $10; juniors ages 6 to 21, $10; children 5 and younger are free.
Weekends and holidays: adults, $15; ages 6 to 21, $15; children 5 and younger are free.
Maximum fee: $50 per family per day.
Memberships:
Season pass: $250 for a family pass (two adults and youth, 21 and younger, living in the same household); $125 for adults; $90 for youths ages 6 to 21; free for children 5 and younger.

Rentals available.

Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center

Open daily.
783 Townshend Road, Grafton, Vt.
802-843-2400
graftoninnvermont.com

Trail fees:
Day: adults, $20; youths, $10; children younger than 5 are free.
Half-day (starts at 1 p.m.): adults, $15; youths, $5; children younger than 5 are free.
Season pass: $135 for individual adult; $90 for individual youth; $350 for a family.

Rentals available.

Stratton Mountain Nordic Center

Open daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sun Bowl Road, Stratton, Vt.
802-297-4114
stratton.com

Featuring 12 km of trails groomed for classic and skate cross-country skiing.

Trail fees:
One day: adults, $25; children 12 and younger, $19.
Season pass: $125 for adults and children.

Rentals are available.
Ski lessons are available.

Timber Creek Cross Country Ski Center

Open daily, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Route 100, across from the north entrance of Mount Snow, West Dover, Vt.
802-464-0999
Timbercreekxc-vt.com

Offering several miles of groomed cross-country and snowshoeing trails. Find the latest conditions and status of the trails on Facebook.

Trail fees:
Day: adult, $20; children younger than 12, $12; seniors 65 and older: $13.
Half-day (starts at 1:30 p.m.): adults, $17; children younger than 12, $9; seniors, 65 and older, $13.
Season pass: $155 for adults; $65 for children younger than 16; $335 for family.

Rentals available.
Lessons available.

Viking Nordic Center

Open daily, except for Wednesdays, 9 to 4:30 p.m.
615 Little Pond Rd, Londonderry, Vt.
802-824-3933
vikingnordic.com

One of the oldest Nordic ski centers in the country, it features 35 km (nearly 22 miles) of ski trails for classic and skate ski techniques.

Trail fees:
Day: adults, $22; students 15 to 17, $20; children ages 6 to 14, $12; seniors 60 and older: $20; children younger than 5 are free.
Half-day (starts at 1 p.m.): adults, $18; student, $16, children ages 6 to 14, $8; seniors 60 and older: $16; children younger than 5 are free.
Season pass: $206.70 for adults; $355.10 for a couple; $79.50 for children ages 6 to 14; $190.80 for children ages 15 to 18 and seniors 65 and older; and $402.80 for a family;

Rentals are available.
Lessons are available.


Makayla-Courtney McGeeney is a former health and environmental reporter for the Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal. She’s from Voorheesville, N.Y., graduated from MCLA in 2015, and resides in North Adams acting as the communications director for Tunnel City Coffee.

More from Makayla

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