When snow falls like a Chicken Little sky, phones come off the hook at area ski shops. That’s when people get excited about the idea of skiing city and suburban streets, parks, bike trails and the fringe of golf courses. In other words – “cross-country” or Nordic style. But you can’t use alpine skis. Skinny skis and special boots are the way to go. Most people can do it. The gait and motion are the same as “Nordic Track” health club machines. So, where are some of the best spots in our own region or for destination getaways with a cross-country focus. Here’s where.

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SCHUYLKILL RIVER TRAIL
schuylkillrivertrail.com/

Scenic skiing can be found along the banks of the Schuylkill River and Canal from Philadelphia to Phoenixville. I favor the section between Port Providence and Mont Clare just outside a revitalized Phoenixville. There’s an ideal access point with parking. The popular Fitzwater Station restaurant and bar is a cozy stop following an invigorating few hours on the snow-covered trail that runs alongside the Schuylkill Canal.

 

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PERKIOMEN TRAIL
http://www.montcopa.org/perkiomentrail

The Perkiomen Trail connects to the Schuylkill trail and meanders all the way from Oaks to Green Lane with access points that include Collegeville, Graterford and Spring Mount. There’s parking, restaurants and bars along the way – even an Alpine ski area near Spring Mount. The terrain is flat with only minor up and downhill grades. Large sections of the trail follow the scenic Perkiomen Creek. Some favorite stops near the trail are DaVinci’s Pub in Collegeville, Graterford Hotel and bar at Graterford and Joe’s Spring Mount Hotel eatery and bar at Spring Mount. Check out access points with parking here: http://www.montcopa.org/index.aspx?NID=1155

 

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VALLEY FORGE PARK
http://www.nps.gov/vafo/index.htm

Cross-country ski on well mapped pathways through a unique element of American history. Along the way see Washington’s headquarters, the soldiers huts and Revolutionary war artifacts. Eyefilling vistas that take in the Schuylkill river and scenic wooded areas enhance the trek. But there is some rolling terrain and downhill/uphill grades which require more skill. Many long flat sections are available for easy cruising. Check the park maps before you go, Then pick your spots. http://www.nps.gov/vafo/planyourvisit/maps.htm

 

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RIDLEY CREEK STATE PARK
1023 Sycamore Mills Rd.
Media, PA 19063
http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/ridleycreek/

Ridley Creek State Park welcomes cross-country skiers on its biking and hiking trails that run alongside a picturesque stream and through wooded areas. About 30 year ago, the park began an interesting experiment to make manmade snow on sections of trail and carve “tracks” for Nordic skiers. It promised a New England experience. I tried it, had fun and thought the idea had promise. But it became an economic bust and was halted. With natural snow on the ground, it’s a winter wonderland. Check the trail maps here: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/ridleycreek/index.htm?tab=Maps#Maps

 

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DELAWARE CANAL STATE PARK
http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/delawarecanal/index.htm

The towpath along sections of the Delaware Canal in pristine upper Bucks County provides scenic and flat terrain for easy cross-country skiing. You’ll find parking at access points in New Hope, Point Pleasant and Upper Black Eddy. Restaurants and coffee shops of New Hope offer a stop during the trek, if that’s on your route.

 

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Destination getaways that involve cross-country skiing are a great way to get started with rental skis, lessons and maintained trails that offer varying degrees of challenge. You’ll find everything from easy cruising in pre-carved “tracks” to steeply graded natural settings.

In Pennsylvania, set a course for the Crystal Lake Skiing Center http://www.crystallakeskicenter.com/ at Hughsville in North-Central Pennsylvania near Muncy. There are nearby overnight accommodations.

Among my favorite Nordic destination spots is the Woodstock Inn at Woodstock, Vermont that accesses miles of trail and the Suicide Six Alpine ski area. Mary and I would ski downhill in the morning, have lunch at the Inn then put a couple of hours on the trail in the afternoon. Now we take a more leisurely approach. Check it here: http://www.woodstockinn.com/resort/recreation

Another favorite stop includes the White Mountain splendor of Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. Push off on a vast scenic network of cross-country trails or just ski between inns and restaurants. The views are dynamic. http://www.waterville.com/ski-ride/nordic-center.html

A few tips: Cross-country skiing is vigorous exercise. Dress in layers so you can peel them off to tuck in a back pack as you go. Carry water. You’ll need it. On sunny days, use sun block. The sun reflects off the snow. On days below 25 degrees, use mittens. Invest in good gloves. Don’t overdo it.

Think Snow!