19 Best Cross-Country Ski Trails in New England

When it comes to winter sports and activities, New England is always a reliable choice to spend your winter holiday. The historical region made of six northeastern states, packed between New York State and Canada is well known for the heavy snowfall it steadily receives each season. It is really a winter wonderland up there for all kinds of snow sports, but for us, it was cross-country skiing that pulled us in. There are literally hundreds of cross-country skiing trails and Nordic centers up there, so we have only scratched the surface here. These are the cross-country ski trails in New England that we loved most.

Vermont

Vermont is home to some of the largest ski areas in the northeastern United States, and though it is nicknamed the Green Mountain State, it is just as beautiful in the winter when it’s all snow and white. Ranging from north to south, the Green Mountains run across the entire state and provide excellent terrain for both alpine and nordic skiing.

Thanks to the tireless work of many enthusiastic Vermonters (The Catamount Trail Association), the Green Mountains have become one long, continuous trail for cross-country and backcountry skiers, running across the entire length of the state, that is called the Catamount Trail.

Being more than 300 miles long, the Catamount Trail no ordinary route. It is actually made of several sections, smaller and larger trails, some of which is groomed, and most of which is ungroomed, or even ideal for backcountry touring. Nevertheless, the whole of Catamount Trail is well-accessible with tons of services around, not to say how many nordic centers!

The following Vermont trails are all scattered along or part of the Catamount Trail, so be sure to check out their website with all the lodgings, shelters and other services available around. As for backcountry skiers, they should definitely go for it.

Bolton Valley near Burlington, VT

  • Trail length: 60+ miles
  • Lodging: The Bolton Valley Inn
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Private Ski Lessons, Rentals, Sports Center with indoor facilities, Après, Dining, and more.

The Bolton Valley Resort offers more than 60 miles long trails for cross-country skiers, 15 of which is regularly groomed for classic and skate cross-country skiers. Their trails provide a variety of landscapes for all levels and abilities. For the adrenaline junkies and explorers, Bolt Valley also provides access points to 1500 acres of superb backcountry terrain and even more beyond.

Note, that the Resort doesn’t allow pets, so if you prefer cross-country skiing with your furry friends, you should check out some other nearby trails too.

Did You Know?

Bolton Valley offers a complex guiding and instructional program to both cross-country and backcountry skiers, including:

  • Backcountry Guiding and Instructional Programming
  • Private and Group Nordic Lessons

Beginning the 2020/2021 season, Bolton Valley has also added 1.5k of night skiing lights to their skate & classic groomed trail, the Picnic Loop, which practically means day & night fun all winter long, thanks to their above 2 000 feet elevation.

For more information, don’t forget to visit the Bolton Valley website.

Mountain Top Resort near Killington, VT

  • Trail length: 35+ miles
  • Lodging: Rooms, Cabins and Guest Houses
  • Warming Shelters: Available
  • Other Services: Ski Lessons, Equipment Rentals, Spa, Wellness, Dining, Après,

As one of the first Cross-Country Ski Center operating in the United States, the Mountain Top Resort combines their experience and hospitality with varied terrain for all levels. They offer almost 25 miles of tracked trails for both classic and skate xc skiing, and even more, the winter vistas of the nearby mountain lake and the surrounding forests are available for your four-legged friends too, since there are several designated pet trails and pet-friendly guest houses.

Beside the excellent care and the state-of-the-art grooming, the resort’s secret lies in the fact that it is located 2,174 feet above sea level, promising perfect conditions for cross-country skiing every season. Not to leave unmentioned their snack bar with the picturesque fireplace.

Did You Know?
If you buy a season pass at any of the 20 participating Cross-Country Ski Areas in Vermont, you will get:

*A one-time, complimentary trail pass for a single day of cross country skiing or snowshoeing at any other participating cross country ski area. Find more info at Ski Vermont.

If you buy a season pass at the Mountain Top Resort, you will also get an extra:

*Bring a Friend Day Pass (including rental equipment).

19 Best Cross-Country Ski Trails in New England
Photo by Joanne Pearson / Fair Haven Photographs

Craftsbury Outdoor Center near Montpelier, VT

  • Trail length: 65 miles
  • Lodging: Cabins, Cottages, Dormitory;
  • Warming Shelters: Available
  • Other Services: Meals, Professional Events; Ski-in and Ski-Out, Fitness Center,

Situated alongside the Catamount Trail, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center seems to lie there peacefully between forests and fields since the beginning of time. If not for that long, but it has been a solid rock for many sports lovers for more than 40 years. It has more than 65 miles of fantastic quality cross-country ski trails, several groomers and snowmaking guns to make your skiing as good as it can get. Many XC skiers consider it the no. 1 Nordic center on the East Coast, and we can safely agree on that.

If you are looking for even more miles, then you should definitely check out the nearby Highland Lodge Trails opening up dozens of additional trails for you. Ski shuttles are regularly available from the Outdoor Center.

Craftsbury also has several homologated race courses (meaning, that they meet all FIS requirements). If you are looking for more professional training courses, then check out their website for the actual maps of each one.

Trapp Family Lodge XC Ski Center at Stowe, VT

  • Trail length: 60+ miles
  • Lodging: Rooms, Suites, Villas, Guest houses and Pet-friendly lodgings
  • Warming Shelters: Available
  • Other Services: Dining and Brewery, Wine Cellar, Fitness Center, Massage,

First thing one mentions about the Trapp Family Lodge is that it’s the very first cross-country ski center in the United States, but one should rather admire its European-style image and overall atmosphere, that makes it a unique wonder.

The Trapp Cross-Country Ski Center offers more than 60 miles of trails, 37 miles of which is meticulously groomed for all ages and abilities. If you want to lay tracks for yourself, they also recommend territories perfect for backcountry skiing.

Beside the family fun, the fairytale landscapes of Mount Mansfield also host several elite competitions. Interesting fact that not only cross-country skiing and other outdoor sports find venues here, but even the annual Vermont Mozart Festival, thanks to the musical background of the founder Trapp family.

trapp family lodge trail

Rikert Nordic Center at Ripton, VT

  • Trail length: 34 miles
  • Lodging:
  • Warming Shelters: Available
  • Other Services: Rentals, ADA-accessibility, Ski school, Lodge area, Waxing room,

The Rikert Nordic Center is located in the heart of the Green Mountains and offers excellent cross-country skiing opportunities with 34 miles of excellently groomed trails. The wide trails give way for both classic and skate skiers, and even more, there is a 3 miles long FIS-certified homologated race course with a snowmaking system.

Thanks to the enormous trail system we haven’t experienced crowds, not one time. On the other hand, we have seen gorgeous brooks and stonewalls in magical looking forests and meadows. What was literally our biggest surprise was Robert Frost’s own summer cabin which we passed by a couple of times.

Come cross-country skiing in Rikert for a super friendly staff, a variety of wonderful terrain with excellent grooming.

Viking Nordic Center near Londonderry, VT

  • Trail length: 18 miles
  • Lodging: Farmhouse, Apartment
  • Warming Shelters: Available
  • Other Services: Café, Clubhouse, Rentals, Ski Shop, Lessons

The Viking Nordic Center is a true marvel for cross-country skiers. 16 miles of beautifully groomed trails taking you through woodlands and along some of the Green Mountain’s most scenic views. Fans of both classic and skate skiing will find their place on one of the trails, but the Viking Nordic Center most importantly focuses on the younger generations.

There are several programs and events (e.g. Great Cookie Search) for kids to participate in. Children could cross-country ski and play at the same time, while the parents are able to go for more challenging trails.

At night, you should definitely try the 1.8 miles long night skiing, one section lit by gas lanterns is especially dazzling.

Maine

Just south of the Canadian border, as you would expect, Maine offers as good cross-country skiing terrain as any New England state. Its enormous backcountry territories somewhat resemble that of the Nordic countries, so it was no surprise when Swedish immigrants jumped onto their skis the first time in Maine back in the 1870s just to skip over to the next town.

These days Maine promises hundreds of miles of precision groomed trails, and many more of picturesque wild heartland territories perfect for a backcountry adventure.

We have highlighted some of our favorite places to cross-country ski in the Pine Tree State.

Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor, ME

  • Trail length: 45 miles
  • Lodging:
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Restrooms, Parking

The Acadia National Park is not only reserved for summer fun. In winter, it transforms into beautiful trails running through wild forests, passing by pristine lakes and streams, as well as ancient hills where once only the Wabanaki tribes have passed.

Thanks to the Friends of Acadia Association, the National Park offers 32 miles of groomed trails over the carriage roads encompassing the area, from sections almost completely flat (e.g. between Eagle Lake and Witch Hole Pond) to comfortably hilly and steep uphill sections with gorgeous views. The Amphitheater trail even takes you over a couple of historic carriage road bridges.

On the other hand, you should note that grooming is done after 6 inches of fresh snow by the enthusiastic volunteers of Friends of Acadia, and though they are doing a fantastic job every season, don’t be alarmed if one of the more hidden roads hasn’t yet been completed.

The trails are free to use, so thank them by checking and adhering to the rules and regulations. Leave no trace. Dog sledding and skijoring are prohibited.

Carter’s XC Ski Center at Bethel, ME

19 Best Cross-Country Ski Trails in New England

  • Trail length: 35 miles of groomed trails
  • Lodging: Rooms in Willow Brook Lodge (currently unavailable due to COVID-19), Cabins in Camp Fern, Stonewall Cabin or Farwell Mt Cabin
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Rentals, Lessons, Ski Shop

This family-operated cross-country ski center is the perfect choice, if you want to find a getaway for a couple of days with lots of skiing and a romantic trailside hut. 35 miles of groomed trails overlooking the Mahoosuc and Presidential mountain ranges provide plenty of variety in terrain for all abilities.

Carter’s also have dog friendly trails as well as a well-equipped rental service that we can happily recommend. All kinds of skis, boots and poles are available in every size.

Thanks for the great photos to Jes by Carter’s XC Ski Center.

Harris Farm XC Ski Day Center near Portland, ME

  • Trail length: 25 miles
  • Lodging: Available nearby (about 10 miles)
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Lessons, Rentals, Dairy and Farm Products, Maple Syrup, Snowshoeing

The Harris Farm Cross-Country Ski Day Center is something when you combine a dairy farm with a Nordic center, and it is a flawless experience. Find all 25 miles of trails groomed for skate and classic skiing running through the 600 acres of farmland and the accompanying meadows and woods.

The peaceful rural environment is at its best here, you just cannot not relax. Their trails are perfect for beginners, but there are some hillier parts as well suited to intermediate level skiers. Everything is well-maintained and clearly marked, so you won’t find yourself wondering which way to go at the first junction, other than when you are heading home with a car fully packed with farm goods.

Harris Farm promises great winter fun for the whole family. Thanks for the photos.

Katadhin and Millinocket Area Trails around Millinocket, ME

  • Trail length: 40+ miles
  • Lodging:
  • Warming Shelters: Available
  • Other Services:

These municipally operated trails are free to the public, and we couldn’t imagine a better practicing area for novice skiers. The 20 miles are regularly groomed and maintained trails are easily accessible and spread around Millinocket near and far, through heavily worked forests and with gorgeous looks of Mount Katadhin. Though most of the trails are on private land, there are even a couple of warming huts dotted along the trail network.

Since there are several trail networks around Millinocket, please do your research before heading out which one is the perfect for you. The Northern Timber Cruisers, the Katadhin Region Trails and the Bait Hole Trails are all in the area with similar promises. Do note that pets are prohibited from most of these trails.

Nordic Heritage Center at Presque Isle

  • Trail length: 12 miles
  • Lodging:
  • Warming Shelters: Available
  • Other Services: Waxing clinic, Lodge with kitchen and shower, Ski shop

This humble and welcoming, European-style Nordic Center offers everything you could wish for. From a fully equipped waxing clinic to some of the best trails in Maine (and that is a big word). Although the trails take you through woodlands for the most part, the variety is delivered by the 12 miles long trail network (20% easy, 70% moderate and 10% difficult). There is a 1.5 miles long area lit for night skiing and a pet-friendly trail as well.

The Nordic Heritage Center is also home to world-class cross-country ski and biathlon venue, accompanied by even a stadium, so it should be definitely a must-see for advanced level skiers.

Thanks for the photos to Aroostook County Tourism

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is home to both alpine and cross-country skiing resorts that are excellent for winter recreation. Also, called the White Mountain State not only thanks to the adequate snowfall it gets every year, but due to the eponymous mountain range which offers hundreds of gentle and not-so-gentle slopes for cross-country skiers.

Let’s take a look at some of our top recommendations in New Hampshire.

Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring & Snowshoe Center

  • Trail length: 27 miles
  • Lodging: Several lodging available along the trail network
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Trailside hot chocolate stops, trailside ski shop

The XC Center seems to consider its mission to make cross-country skiing more popular, so more than 50% of their 27miles long trail network is rated easy and recommended for novice skiers and families. Meanwhile, intermediate or more courageous beginners might find trails favoring classic and skate style skiers too. If you have a dog, you might want to try the trails in Whitaker Woods, where pets are permitted.

The trail network running through wild forests connect several villages nearby, while you can also take a grand view at Mt Washington.

Note, that the one of the most popular Nordic Centers in the East Coast is also nearby, but since most of you already know it, we felt it doesn’t need more introduction. The Jackson XC Center is only a 6 miles away from the Mt Washington Valley XC Center.

Waterville Valley Resort near Plymouth, NH

  • Trail length: 43+ miles
  • Lodging: Town Square Condominiums, Silver Fox Inn, Black Bear Lodge, and more.
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Lessons, Rentals, Dining, Shops,

The Waterville Valley Resort and Adventure Center is known for its well groomed trails spread across two separate trail networks called the South End and North End, and each trail takes you to a couple of sights you would definitely want to see.

Waterville boasts being a family friendly resort, and we can agree on that, but for advanced cross country skiers it is not that much that fun as it would like to be. While the wide trails mean more safety for kids, for others it means losing its natural, wild atmosphere. Services and amenities are plentiful and the staff is extremely helpful in every facility. You will several dining options available both in the valley and on the mountain. Recommended for families and novice XC skiers, but not so much for those who are looking for getting away from the everyday noise and crowds.

Note, that there are a handful of trails allowing dogs on leash, such as the Village trail and the first half kilometer of the Livermore trail.

Dexter’s Inn

  • Trail length: 18 miles
  • Lodging: Rooms in the Main Inn or the Annex, the Holly House Cottage;
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Private lessons, Dining, Indoor recreation center, XCS center

Dexter’s Inn is a classic cross-country ski resort and inn connecting to a 20 acre family estate with an idyllic, homely atmosphere like no other. It has a panoramic view directly to the slopes you would soon conquer. Almost the entire trail network is meticulously groomed, while the 1,350 foot elevation maintains conditions that are perfect for XC skiing. There is a variety of runs for all levels and abilities, to be precise: 30% easy, 55% intermediate and 15% advanced rated.

Suitable for both families and friends, if you want to enjoy cross-country skiing in its simplicity, without all the glitters and fuss.

Massachusetts

The most populous state in New England, also nicknamed as the Bay State, Massachusetts is also home to some great cross-country skiing terrain throughout the state that lies as a wide stretch of land between the Atlantic and the Berkshire Highlands. Although there are plenty of state parks and forests across Massachusetts welcoming Nordic skiers all winter, naturally, most cross-country ski centers lie in the “Berkshires” in the west, that is actually the southernmost part of the Green Mountains coming down from Vermont.

Now let’s see a couple of our favorite cross-country ski trails in Massachusetts.

massachusetts trails

Weston Ski Track near Boston, MA

  • Trail length: 10 miles
  • Lodging:
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Waxing Clinic, Ski School for Kids and Adults, Rentals, Ski Shop

The largest metropolitan area nearby, we couldn’t not start out with the Boston-neighboring Weston Ski Track. Only 15 miles from downtown Boston, the Weston Ski Track provides consistently good conditions for cross-country skiing all winter, even when natural snow is not as abundant as other times. Thanks to the Leo J. Martin Ski Track, they have one of the biggest snowmaking system on cross-country ski tracks in New England that provides a 1.5 miles long loop available all season.

When they do have natural snow, their master groomers take good care of the 10 miles long trail system maintained for skate and classic skiing. Even more, the above mentioned 1.5 miles long loop with the snowmaking system is also lit at night for those who like cross-country skiing in the evenings.

Lying along the banks of the Charles River, the Weston Ski Track provides unique scenery and perfect conditions for cross-country skiers, while also within a stone’s throw of downtown Boston and all its amenities.

Northfield Mountain Ski Center at Greenfield, MA

  • Trail length: 25 miles
  • Lodging:
  • Warming Shelters: Available
  • Other Services: Rentals, Heated yurt and lunch room, Lessons, Hot chocolate

In Northwestern Massachusetts, you will find the Northfield Mountain Ski Center providing everything you might need for the perfect cross-country skiing weekend. Find here 25 miles of well-groomed carriage-wide trails for both classic and freestyle skiing suiting all levels and abilities.

There are easy, beginner level trails running through almost completely flat pastures, while more advanced, intermediate routes lead you through rolling hilly circuits. The 800 foot climb to the top of Tenth Mountain is only for the most skilled and determined.

Fun fact that it is actually operated by a Power Company called FirstLight Power, and the Ski Center is also home to a “pumped storage hydroelectric facility”, practically meaning a reservoir. You can take a look at it from above if you climb the Tenth Mountain’s black trail, or from the actual shores if you take the green “Reservoir Road”.

Take note, that nor hikers or pets are allowed on the trails, and on Mondays and Tuesdays the Ski Center is closed.

Canterbury Farm Ski Touring Center near Pittsfield, MA

  • Trail length: 12+ miles
  • Lodging: Bed & Breakfast
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Café, Rentals, Lessons, Heated Ski Chalet, Ice-skating rink

Back to the Berkshires, the Canterbury Farm offers 200 acres of land for cross-country skiers, with 13 miles of meticulously groomed and tracked trails mostly set for diagonal skiing. If you come to Western Massachusetts, the Canterbury Farm is the best choice. Being on a plateau, the Berkshire Highlands receives consistent and abundant snowfall every season, and the trails groomed daily by the impeccable staff, they together make sure that your cross-country skiing experience will be one of the best. Meanwhile, the prices are also quite friendly.

The trails offer a variety of landscapes: flat runs along beaver ponds, or on rolling hills and evergreen forests. The ancient boulders and stone walls half-covered in snow will make sure that you feel like in another era.

Don’t forget to marvel at the gorgeous scenery of Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts, and if you can’t get enough of this, the Canterbury Farm also has a nice B&B.

Connecticut

There are lots of places in Connecticut where you can cross-country ski, but many of those are “only” state parks and forests with scarce if any services. On the other hand, these state maintained estates have more of a natural feel, a magical atmosphere than those ski centers with a facility at every corner.

We’d like to highlight only one and our favorite area in rural Connecticut.

Winding Trails Cross Country Ski Center near Hartford, CT

  • Trail length: 12 miles
  • Lodging: Available nearby
  • Warming Shelters:
  • Other Services: Ski Lodge, Rental Center, Ski Shop, Ski Lessons
Did You Know?
Winding Trails offer several programs all year round, as well as ski events in the winter season (from Mid-December to Mid-March). For more information on these events, as well as their fees and season passes be sure to visit their website.

It is the only fully equipped Cross-Country Ski Center in Connecticut, but it offers no less than most of its peers in Vermont or Maine. There are plenty of trails for beginner and intermediate skiers, and even a couple of more advanced routes that could provide some challenge for pro cross-country skiers. The complete trail system in Winding Trails encompasses 12 miles, all double tracked and groomed. There is even a trail loop set for skating around the entire area.

The trails take you through gentle wooded terrain, and if you are a beginner, here you will surely get to love cross-country skiing for what it is. A fun winter experience, crossing beautiful landscapes from meandering brooks and trailside ponds to steep hills with magnificent views of the surrounding area.

Note, that unfortunately this ski center doesn’t allow dogs.

Rhode Island

The smallest state isn’t known for the abundance of available cross-country ski trails, but we’d still like to highlight at least one that we consider something worth checking out.

Pulaski State Park and Recreational Area

  • Trail length: 10 miles
  • Lodging:
  • Warming Shelters: Available

The Pulaski State Park opens up a whole new region if you cross-country ski: the adjacent George Washington Management area comes with 10 miles of well-groomed trails across a varied terrain. There are pink, red, yellow and green trails for your winter fun: most of them takes you through wooded areas, but you could also ski along the shore of the frozen Peck Pond.