Cross Country Skiing in New York City

Cross country skiing in NYC
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First, the bad news: If you’re an avid cross country skier, you’ll likely be sorely disappointed with the in-city ski options in NYC.

The good news: It’s not too far to great skiing in the Catskills or the Adirondacks, and even if you’re on a budget, you can make the trip on the cheap.

But there are a few options in between, depending on if you have your own gear, and whether or not perfectly groomed trails are your thing, or if you prefer a more rustic, natural ski trip.

For Perfect Trails and Rentals:

XC Skiing in Lake Placid, Adirondacks. Via  Lake Placid Region on Flickr
XC Skiing in Lake Placid, Adirondacks. Via Lake Placid Region on Flickr

If you’re a beginner and need to rent gear, you may want to take a weekend trip to the Catskills or the Adirondacks. Both spots offer gorgeous groomed and well-marked trails, so if you’re just starting out or you just love a speedier ski, you’ll be in absolute bliss. Lake Placid is the ultimate destination for cross country ski lovers—Cascade Cross Country Ski Center is just outside of town and offers 20 kilometers of groomed trails. It also connects to nearby Mt. Van Hoevenberg, with miles of trails through the woods. Bonus: Mt. Van Hoevenberg also serves as a biathlon training facility, and they host clinics through the winter!

If you’re not up for making the trip all the way to Lake Placid, Lapland Lake has great trails, rentals and accommodations and is a couple hours closer to the city. Well worth checking out, especially if you’re not on a low-budget trip, or you prefer a house rental over a hotel or hostel stay.
The Catskills have some great options, and nearly 40 miles of perfectly groomed trails at Mountain Trails Cross Country Ski Center. Note: these trails are only open when there’s plenty of snow on the ground, so check their website before planning a trip.

For Day Trippers Who Like It Rustic:

Palisades Parkway in winter. via  Anthony Quintano on Flickr
Palisades Parkway in winter. via Anthony Quintano on Flickr

Bear Mountain State Park is only an hour drive from midtown, and while it’s a great hiking and running destination in the fall, spring, and summer, it’s a winter wonderland ready for skiing in the colder months. You won’t find rentals anywhere nearby, but if you own skis or can rent in the city, this is a great spot. They have five miles of groomed cross country trails with amazing views, and if you’re someone who prefers variety in a long day outside, there are tons of great snowshoe options as well, and a small outdoor skating rink. If you’re looking for a cheesy outdoor date spot, this is definitely one of the best, and doesn’t require an overnight stay. (And if you don’t have a car, it’s easy to catch a Coach USA bus to the park from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.)

Right near Bear Mountain, Palisades Interstate Park has trails as well, and since it’s easier access to the city (right on the other side of the Hudson) the trails are fairly well-maintained and frequently accessed.

When you’ve exhausted all of those trails, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is also just an hour north of the city and boasts plenty of cross country trails, albeit not perfectly groomed. Expect more of a challenge here, but the trails are well-marked. A bit farther north, there’s the 14,000 acre Fahnestock Memorial State Park, which also has plenty of cross country options and is well worth the trip north for the gorgeous views.

For Those Who Hate Planning:

The Catskills in winter. via The Turducken on Flickr
The Catskills in winter. via The Turducken on Flickr

Emilios in Queens has you covered. They have rentals if you just want to ski Central Park or are heading to Bear Mountain for the weekend, but they also plan plenty of ski and snowboard trips. Trips to Mount Snow mean you can head to Timber Creek for cross country options, Okemo has a Nordic ski center, as does Stratton Mountain, and Hunter Mountain has the Mountain Trails Cross Country Ski Center right next door. So even though the trips are planned for more downhill-oriented riders, there are still plenty of options!

For City-Bound Skiers:

Central Park in winter.
Central Park in winter. (vincent desjardins)

So you can’t leave the city, due to work or money woes? Bummer. But if there’s more than six inches of snow on the ground, you’re not completely out of luck. Central Park actually boasts some decent cross country options, and while it won’t take you a full day to get through the trails, if you’re looking for a workout or to just keep your skills honed, it’s a solid option and one of the only ones in the city. The best places to ski are Sheep Meadow, the Great Lawn, and other large meadows in the Park. You can also head over to Van Courtland to do the same kind of skiing—you may not find perfectly groomed trails, but at least you can get out on your skis and stretch your legs. And who would have expected you could do that right in the city?

Get Your Gear:

You can find skis Emilio’s in Queens, and they do have rentals available. Panda Sports in Brooklyn sells cross country skis and has a great selection, but no rentals.

Don’t forget: we’re not in northern Canada, so even the Adirondacks can have no snow some months—make sure you check ski conditions before heading up!

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