As a rule, a ‘touring center’ will prepare and groom trails to make it easier to ski on. It’s by far the easier way to start and to practice. There’s a lot of these ‘cross country ski areas’ in the Northeast so I limited this list to the ones that are within a single day’s drive from NYC. That said, I know I’ve left some out. Drive-time estimates from midtown Manhattan, based on leaving on a weekend morning.
Rather than list them solely by drive-time, I did some sub-grouping to break things up, and have some section links to each of the following:
- Normal day trips (3 hours or less from midtown)
- Early start day trips (under 4 hours), with a section for some Funky and offbeat possibilities
- Long weekends, including sections for touring centers at or near downhill ski areas and some Retro or unexpected places
- Last but not least, sections for the High Peaks, White Mountains, Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and special places that are Uniquely great in their own way
FYI, most of ski touring areas in VT and upstate rent equipment, but it’s a bit iffy for places in Connecticut, Massachusetts and the mid-Hudson region, unless specified. Contact them ahead of time to inquire about rentals or lessons.
Normal day trips
Fahnestock Winter Park, Carmel NY (Hudson Highlands), 1-1/4 hrs
The go-to place near NYC. Also has a tubing hill. Rentals, lodge, cafe.
High Point Cross Country Ski Center, Sussex NJ (northwest NJ), 1-3/4 hrs
Ski center that grooms trails, rents equipment, provides lessons. Set within state park of the same name.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Kerhonkson NY (mid-Hudson region), 1-3/4 hrs
State Park preserve with groomed trails. Beautiful new visitor center as of fall 2020 and expanded parking up top. Trails have some of the most beautiful views anywhere in downstate NY. Rentals available at Rock & Snow in New Paltz.
Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz NY (mid-Hudson region), 1-3/4 hrs
Swanky old-style resort hotel with trails around the property. Trail fee required for visitors. Can be a bit irregular with grooming. They rent skis and have restrooms for use by the public but other buildings are off-limits.
Winding Trails, Farmington CT, 2 hrs
Mountain Trails Cross Country Ski Center, Tannersville NY (Catskills), 2 hrs
Gets less snow or opens less frequently than you’d think for the Catskills.
Windham Mountain, Windham NY (Catskills), 2hrs
The touring center is down the road from the Alpine ski area. They never post conditions so contact the center directly.
Maple Corner Farm, Blandford MA (southwestern MA I-90 corridor), 2-1/2 hrs
Canterbury Farm Nordic Center, Becket MA (western MA I-90 corridor), 2-3/4 hrs
Pretty little house/inn on grounds that are quiet and heavily wooded.
Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, Petersburg NY (Albany-Troy region), 3 hrs
Early start or 36-hour getaway
Prospect Mountain, Woodford VT (southwest VT), 3-1/2 hrs
A former downhill ski area converted to cross country. Nice old-timey lodge with a cafe. Rentals available.
At 2000′ in altitude, Prospect gets and holds snow much better than most. A fun place to ski anytime and the go-to place in sketchy snow years. Clubs and ski teams from Albany to western MA frequent the trails.
Notchview Reservation, Windsor MA (Berkshires, Rt 9 corridor), 3-1/4 hrs
One of several preserves governed by The Trustees of Reservations. Grooms trails, including one for skijoring. Warming house with wax bench. Rentals available.
Northfield Mountain Cross Country Ski Area, Northfield MA (Connecticut river valley, off I-91 corridor), 3-1/4 hrs
Funky and offbeat possibilities
Brattleboro Outing Club, Brattleboro VT (southeastern VT off I-91), 3-1/4 hrs
Set on grounds of a country club, meant for club members but visitors can ski a limited number of times before joining.
Stump Sprouts Ski Touring and Guest Lodge, Charlemont MA (Berkshires, near Mohawk Trail State forest and Charlemont), 3-1/2 hrs
Real New England-feeling trails and location- you can almost smell the pine tar. Sometimes limits trails to guests of the inn or other special events.
Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center, Northville NY (Southern Adirondacks in Albany-Schenectady region), 3-3/4 hrs
Extensive system on rolling terrain and flats, with many loops to make a tour as short or long as you like. Drawback is there’s few accommodations nearby, so try to get something at Lapland. FWIW, The Inn at the Bridge in Northville looks nice as an alternative.
Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center, Grafton VT (southern VT), 4 hrs
Viking Nordic Center, Londonderry VT (southern VT), 4 hrs
Wild Wings Ski (and yoga), Peru VT (southern VT), 4 hrs
The combination of skiing and yoga tells you a lot about this place (grin)
Garnet Hill Lodge XC Ski Center, North River NY (southern Adirondacks), 4 hrs
Log house main lodge, and a good trail system set on a gently sloping hillside. They run a shuttle for those who want to ski one-way (mostly down) and ride back to the lodge. Backcountry ski trails in Siamese Ponds wilderness area adjacent to the lodge property.
At or near downhill ski areas
Gore Mountain Nordic Center, Johnsburg NY (southern Adirondacks), 4 hrs
Timber Creek Cross Country Ski Center, West Dover VT (southern VT), 4 hrs
Literally across the road from Mt. Snow
Stratton Mountain Nordic Center Stratton Mountain VT (southern VT), 4 hrs
Okemo Valley Nordic Center, Okemo VT (central VT), 4 hrs
Waterville Valley, NH (White Mountains off I-93), 5-1/4 hrs
Really nice ski touring trails as well as downhill.
Retro or unexpected places
Crystal Lake Ski & Outdoor Center Hughesville PA (central PA west of Scranton), 3-1/2 hrs
Dexter’s Inn Sunapee NH (central NH off I-89), 4-1/2 hrs
Eastman Cross Country Center, Grantham NH (central NH off I-89), 4-1/2 hrs
The High Peaks region
Cascade Cross Country Center, Lake Placid NY (High Peaks region), 4-1/2 hrs
Ski cross country and drink beer afterward in the cafe.
Olympic Sports Complex at Mt Van Hoevenberg, Lake Placid NY (High Peaks region), 4-1/2 hrs
Very large and varied trail system. Run into (or be passed by) anything from novices to biathletes on trail. Next door is the bobsled track. Cascade is just down the road.
Paul Smith’s College VIC, Paul Smiths NY (High Peaks region), 5-1/4 hrs
Outdoor recreation and education center to “foster connections with nature by providing outdoor recreation opportunities, experiential education programs, and year-round art exhibitions”
White Mountains of New Hampshire
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, Jackson NH (White Mountains), 6 hrs
Pioneering ski touring foundation with extensive trail system throughout the village of Jackson and surrounding river valleys. Accommodations of various kinds in village or nearby.
Great Glen Trails, Pinkham Notch NH
One of the most Alpine-looking settings for a cross-country ski area, with views of Mt. Washington. Nice range of trail types and terrain.
Bear Notch Ski Touring, Bartlett NH
Fits the retro type ski area in the charmingly no-nonsense way of the Granite State. Good set of flat trails for beginners to practice on across the road, and some more challenging trails as well, but nothing too hard.
Bretton Woods Resort, Bretton Woods NH (White Mountains), 5-1/2 hrs
The original hotel at which the Bretton Woods Conference was held in 1944 still stands and was renovated along with the surrounding acreage as a major resort. Set at the foot of Mount Washington, the resort area includes additional hotels, condos, and downhill skiing as well as the nordic trail system.
Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (and Burlington area)
Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe VT (northern VT), 5-1/2 hrs
First-class accommodations in the lodge, with less expensive lodges and motels available in Stowe. Classic New England trail system with some modernized touches. Nice bakery on the site. And yes, it’s the place where the “Sound of Music” von Trapps resided.
Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury VT (northern VT), 6 hrs
A really nice trail system in a charmingly rural part of the state. Best and healthiest food of anyplace set next to ski trails. Has its own elite team and hosts national competitions. COC is a getaway experience from food to yoga to the skiing. Life in the land of BMI 25.
Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center, Warren VT (northern VT), and Catamount Outdoor Family Center, Williston VT (northern VT), both 5-1/4 hrs away
Well those crafty old New Englanders had to do something when the dairy business got hit hard or they became too old to farm.
Uniquely great in their own way
Woodstock Inn and Resort, Woodstock VT (off I-91), 4-1/4 hrs
Mountaintop Inn & Resort, Chittenden VT (central VT), 4-1/2 hrs
Gorgeous views in a rustic and beautiful location, plus a really nice inn to stay at. Great trail system. Rentals and lessons available.
Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center (Oak Hill) Hanover NH (western NH), 4-1/4 hrs
Where Dartmouth nordic skiers practice.
Rikert Nordic Center, Ripton VT (central VT), 4-3/4 hrs
Where the Middlebury nordic ski team goes to practice.
BREIA (Black River Environmental Improvement Association), Boonville NY (central NY, north of Utica at the Tug Hill plateau), 4-1/2 hrs
50k of trails free for use. Supported by foundation and other grants for the betterment of the community and the outdoors.
Winona State Forest, (central NY near Mannsville and Lacona NY, just west of the Tug Hill plateau), 4-3/4 hrs
32k of trails free for use for non-motorized activity. For info about winter trail grooming, see Winona Forest Recreation Association
Closest cluster of hotels or motels are in Pulaski (pronounced ‘pulas-SKY’) or Verona.