Cross-country is also called “touring,” or “Nordic style.” Rather than rapidly swooshing down hills, cross-country skiers look for flatter trails that allow them to kick and glide almost effortlessly through miles of winter wonderland.
More solitude, fewer crowds. More cardio, less adrenaline.
West Virginia has some great places for cross-country skiing, whether you are a seasoned skier looking to explore the backcountry, or a beginner looking to rent equipment and learn the basics on easy packed and groomed trails.
Where to Ski
Pipestem Resort State Park offers cross-country ski equipment rentals for skiers that want to glide around the resort’s groomed hiking trails and snow-covered golf course.
Visit White Grass Ski Touring Center in Davis for 160 inches of annual snowfall and 50 kilometers of groomed ski trails. White Grass has full rental services and the White Grass Cafe serves hungry skiers soups, snacks and drinks through the winter. White Grass is also home to telemark skiing- a type of cross-country skiing that takes heavier equipment down steeper hills.
The Elk River Touring Center, near Snowshoe, offers 40 kilometers of maintained cross-country ski trails with access to the Monongahela National Forest and the Cranberry Wilderness. The center offers downhill and cross-country ski rentals. Stay at one of the center’s lodging options including a bed and breakfast and cabins.
For more experienced skiers, the backcountry possibilities are limitless here, as long as there’s a good snowpack. Many hiking trails in the Mountain State make great ski trails in the winter: Long Point Trail in the New River Gorge, sections of the Bluefield River Trail, trails through the Cranberry Wilderness— they’re all fantastic.
Before You Go
Wherever you want to go to start out your cross-country experience, be aware of a few things that are different from downhill skiing:
- Cross-country skiing is more active than downhill– you’ll likely break a sweat and want to strip away a few layers of clothing as you warm up, but sweat-soaked clothing can also be very cold as you wind down and the day gets colder.
- Many cross country areas will be more remote, and because of the flat nature of the trails, it is not easy to just coast back to a lodge if you get cold or tired, even if you are at a developed resort.
- Be prepared: bring food, water and essentials. Treat it more like a backcountry hike than a resort experience.