PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Would you believe there’s a God of skiing? Ancient Scandinavians did. Some ski clubs today even have logos with the image of Ullr, outfitted in skis and carrying his trusty bow. Ullr came on the scene long before chairlifts and heated Gondolas. Then, people used long skis to get from village to village or just out of the house to hunt for their dinner. Today, many among us still get around when the snow falls on Cross-Country or Nordic Skis, affectionately known as “Skinny Skis”. Those elliptical machines at your gym simulate cross-country skiing. You see Nordic skiers on snow-covered city streets or on suburban park trails. So, where can you find a cross-country weekend getaway or local day trip. Follow me.
This iconic resort overlooking New York’s scenic Hudson River Valley boasts 85 miles of hiking trails. A part of that network is ideal for cross-country skiing. The hotel which appears from a distance as a castle on a high bluff overlooking a pristine lake is an ideal launching point for a winter weekend of Nordic skiing and fine dining. Mohonk Mountain visitors enjoy a rustic, throwback mountain environment where public rooms and guest rooms are TV free and sipping a toddy beside a blazing fireplace is the rush. Luncheon buffets and fine wine accented dinners with views of the nearby Catskill Mountains highlight a day on the trails.
The Nordic Ski Center at the luxurious Woodstock Inn is a complete complex dedicated to Nordic skiing. Over 25 miles of carved trails range from beginner to expert terrain. Most of the trails are groomed and meander through scenic Mt. Peg and Mount Tom. The Center rents skis and if you’re new to the game, professional instructors will get you started. Woodstock is also linked to the nearby Suicide Six alpine ski area. it’s not that tough and is in reality a Pocono size mountain with novice to advanced skiing. Mary and I spent mornings on the downhill trails and after lunch at the hotel, would head out on the cross-country trails. The 142 room resort was established by the Rockefeller family. The dining reflects the heritage.
Closer to home, but at the northeastern tier of the state is one the few Pennsylvania resorts that cater to cross-country skiers. The 100 plus year old Inn at Starlight Lake maintains 25 miles of cross country trails with about 40% suitable for beginners. Twenty percent offers advanced level challenge. Equipment rentals are available and trail maps are provided. You won’t find TV sets at the inn, but you will find a restaurant that serves up bracing comfort eats to go along with a brisk winter day, on skis, gliding through woods and lakefront.
For a day trip to a vast cross-country panorama, Valley Forge National Park is our local go-to spot. In addition to miles of hiking, biking and Nordic trails, skiers can go off-trail to ski over more than 3,000 acres of historic land. Trails are not groomed for skiing and you basically carve your own. If you stick to the trails don’t forget to download a trail map. https://www.nps.gov/vafo/planyourvisit/upload/general_kiosk_overall%202010.pdf There are no ski rentals here, so you’ll need your own gear. It’s close and holds plenty of parking.
Multiple Trailhead Locations
If you fancy point-to-point skiing to absorb the feeling of travel by skis to an ultimate destination, try the Perkiomen Trail. This 19 mile multi-purpose trail offers a gently graded pathway through changing scenery along the Perkiomen Creek and Schuylkill Rivers and Canal. It winds from the banks of the Schuylkill near Phoenixville into the upper reaches of Montgomery County at Green Lane Park. On the way, you’ll ski alongside pristine streams, through small towns and rural settings. There are more than a dozen trail heads where parking is available including Pawlings Rd., Collegeville, Schwenksville, Spring Mount and Green Lane Park. You’ll need your own equipment, and rest room facilities are sparse. Before you go download a map. https://www.montcopa.org/1153/Perkiomen-Trail
* Nordic skiing is aerobic and the heat will build. Dress in layers and prepare to shed clothes. Have a backpack to carry them.
* Bring a full water bottle and stay hydrated.
* Have a map when skiing in local, state and national parks or forests.
* You may not find cell phone service on many remote area trails.
* Do not ski alone in remote areas.
* Frozen lakes and ponds can be risky unless ice has been tested by park officials.
Enjoy the trails!