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Best Cross Country Ski Trails Around Pittsburgh

January 11, 2010 5:45 AM

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(Photo Credit: LivingPittsburgh.com)

(Photo Credit: LivingPittsburgh.com)

Cross-Country Skiing, “XC” for short, is a sport gaining in popularity and there are plenty of places in western Pennsylvania to try it out. It’s great for people leery of the big slopes, but want to put their skis to good use. Also, like swimming, XC uses every major muscle group so it’s a great workout as well.

Ohiopyle

7 Sheridan St.
Ohiopyle, Pa. 15470
(724)-329-8591
Website: Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Snow Depth: Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Download: MAP

Ohiopyle covers more than 20,000 acres in Fayette County and boasts millions of visitors each year. The park is a popular summer hot spot as the Youghiogheny River provides white water rafting, kayaking and natural water slides. However, the park has plenty to offer the winter crowd. More than 30 miles of trails are available for XC, including the Sproul Trails which were specifically made for cross-country skiing, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. One of the easier trails is the Kentuck Trail. Also, the Great Allegheny Passage is ideal for XC because it’s mostly a level surface.

Raccoon Creek State Park

3000 State Route 18
Hookstown, Pa. 15050-9416
(724)-899-2200
Website: Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Trails: www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/raccooncreek/raccooncreek_trails.aspx
Snow Report: www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/winter/winterb.aspx?park=6213
Map: www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/raccooncreek/raccooncreek_mini_pdf.pdf

Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County is home to more than 7,500 acres of land available for hiking, biking, hunting and even horseback riding. Raccoon Lake also provides the opportunity for boating, fishing and swimming. And in the winter, Raccoon State Park makes most of its trails available for cross-country skiing. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources recommends using trails that are not rated as “difficult.” One of the best trails is, of course, the Cross-Country skiing trail. It’s about two miles long and there’s a warming area with a fireplace at Shelter 6. Also, among the easier trails are the Appaloosa Trail, Appaloosa Spur and the Pinto Loop.

Moraine State Park

225 Pleasant Valley Rd.
Portersville, Pa. 16051
(724)-368-8811
Website: www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/moraine.aspx
Map: www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/moraine/moraine_mini.pdf

During the summer months, Lake Arthur draws thousands to its shores for fishing, swimming, sailing and more. But once the snow falls, Moraine is a great place for winter sports too, including XC skiing. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Pleasant Valley and Sunken Garden trails are just right for XC. Now that the trails are connected, they provide about six miles of trails for skiing. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or a veteran – these trails are for any skill level.

Laurel Ridge State Park

1117 Jim Mountain Rd.
Rockwood, PA 15557
(724)-455-3744
Map: North | South

This 13,625-acre state park is located along Laurel Mountain and spans Cambria, Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties. The most popular draw of Laurel Ridge is its 70-mile hiking trail. But in the winter, this park has trails for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. The Pa. Department of Conservation and Recreation says this park has about 35 miles of trails for XC. The trails are color-coded (Green, Red, Orange, Yellow) according to difficulty. They also have maps available. Additionally, there is a fee to ski – $6 for Adults and $3 for kids 12 and under. You can also get guided tours and rent equipment, but call ahead. The Pennsylvania Cross country Skier’s Association (PACCSA) provides a webcam to check snow conditions.

Wisp Ski Resort

296 Marsh Hill Road
McHenry, MD 21541
(301)-387-4911
Website: www.wispresort.com/wisp/index.aspx
Trail Map: www.wispresort.com/wisp/trailmap/popup.html

If you’re near the Maryland area, you may want to try cross-country at Wisp Ski Resort. Keep in mind, the availability of XC depends on natural snowfall. But once the snow piles up, the resort’s golf course transforms into a cross-country trail. Call the resort ahead of time to check availability and related fees.

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