6 of the Nation’s Best Cross-Country Skiing Destinations

“Cross-country skiing is not all uphills and flats and hard work,” Andrew Newell, a member of the U.S. Cross-Country Team who competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, recently told NBC News. “This sport can be fast and gnarly if you know where to go.” Our thoughts exactly. Here are some of the country’s best destinations for all things Nordic.

Bretton Woods Nordic Center (New Hampshire)
This sizable offshoot of the Omni Mount Washington Resort covers 1,700 acres and receives roughly 200 inches of snow per year. The terrain at Bretton Woods is enjoyably diverse; one three-mile stretch of flatland travels along an old railroad bed, but skiers who crave more of a rush can access the four-mile Mountain Road Trail using the high-speed Bethlehem Express quad lift (and take in some breathtaking scenery before their descent).

Craftsbury Outdoor Center (Vermont)
This iconic New England spread of vast fields and thick forests features more than 60 miles of cross-country trails, both groomed and backcountry, as well as skating ponds and routes designed for snowshoe travel. If leisurely tranquility isn’t your cup of tea, take a run down the twisty 5K Race Loop.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch (Colorado)
This popular cross-country destination sits at an altitude of 8,500 feet, so oxygen may be in limited supply for those used to skiing at lower elevations. But shortness of breath aside, the ranch offers a complex, 5,000-acre network of trails that alternate between heavy forest and sunny open terrain.

Gunflint Trail (Minnesota)
Dubbed the ‘Norwegian Riviera’ for good reason, this trail system located near the shores of Lake Superior stretches more than 60 miles between the town of Grand Marnais and the Sawtooth Mountains. Difficulty ratings vary within the four distinct trail systems, but this resort is definitely geared toward skiers who want to get a good sweat going.

Lone Mountain Ranch (Montana)
This resort was named the nation’s top Nordic destination
by Cross-Country Skier Magazine in 2002, and its popularity has remained intact ever since. One reason is the diverse landscape: more than 50 miles of trail that wind through meadows, forests, canyons, and ridgetops. Nearly 20 miles of snowshoe trails, winter fly-fishing accommodations, and nighttime sleigh rides some of the other perks.

Methow Valley (Washington)
This extensive network includes three established Nordic skiing areas (Mazama, Sun Mountain, and Rendezvous) that collectively comprise more than 120 miles of trails. The majority of routes are rated for beginners, including the Methow Community Trail, which allows skiers to travel between the towns of Winthrop and Mazama.