Top 10 Cross Country Skiing Trails at These Hot Spots Happening in Utah
According to historians, skis were invented long before the wheel. Cro-Magnon man strapped sticks to his feet around 22,000 years ago to traverse through the snow and ice. It wasn’t for recreation or competition, but rather for survival. They were first used to cross wetlands and marshes when they froze over during winter months. This allowed cavemen to hunt reindeer and elk on the other side of the frozen tundra during the ice age of the Paleolithic period. Fragments of ski-like objects dating back to 6,000 BC were discovered by an archaeologist in Northern Russia in the 1960s.
Today, downhill and cross country skiing are among many favorite recreational activities and competitions enjoyed all over the world. Cross country skiing is a great way to soak in all of the amazing sights during winter months, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. Here in the United States, some of the very best trails are located in Utah.
1. Alta Ski Area
All the way from the Albion to the Wildcat Base, Alta Ski Area offers 5 km of groomed run, specifically designed for cross country skiers. You can buy or rent skiing equipment in one of the Alta Ski Area ski shops, take skiing lessons in Alf Engen Ski School, or engage in a guided backcountry adventure. If you’re interested in trying something new, such as snowshoeing or telemark, or even helicopter skiing, Alta’s got it all. Tickets and passes are available at the Wildcat Ticket office.
2. Brian Head Resort
When visiting Brian Head Resort, just east of Cedar City, there are 10 km of groomed trails to trek through in this gorgeous part of Utah. With rentals, lessons and night skiing available, be sure to check out this hot-spot for some smooth sailing on the slopes. Night skiing is SO cool (pardon the pun) and not available at the majority of venues. There are numerous cross country skiing spots to enjoy in the area including those found at Cedar Breaks National Monument and Town Trails in this region.
3. Homestead Adventure Center
The Homestead Adventure Center is home to tons of activities for those who enjoy the great outdoors any time of year but especially during winter months. Near Midway in Heber Valley, there’s 12 km of groomed trails, lessons, and rentals available. When visiting during the summertime, there’s a unique opportunity for warm-water scuba diving, swimming, and snorkeling in The Crater.
4. Ruby’s Inn
There’s an old, classic country-western song by Kenny Rogers whose title begs, Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town. However, lovers of this activity should definitely take their cross country gear to Ruby’s Inn. Among many winter activities available in Bryce Canyon near Ruby’s roost, the inn boasts a whopping 50 km of groomed trails with panoramic views for hundreds of miles not far from this quaint and quiet lodging nest. Ruby’s is another one of the few venues that offer night skiing on portions of the runs.
5. Sherwood Hills
Along with state-of-the-art European spa services, the spa at Sherwood Hills is home to 20 km of trails, 5 of which are groomed. Located in Wellsville Canyon, the resort and day spa offers a number of amenities for their guests including hiking and biking in the spring, summer and fall months.
6. Soldier Hollow Nordic Center
Home of the 2002 Olympics, cross country skiers can literally tackle a world-class course or trek through a well-groomed trail designed for beginners at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center near Park City, in the town of Midway in Heber Valley. There’s plenty to explore on the Pony Express and Spin and Grin trails or go free-falling down banked turns on the Rollercoaster. Settle down by a roaring fireplace at their award-winning namesake Lodge after a long day of skiing.
7. Solitude Nordic Center
The Solitude Nordic Center at the namesake mountain near Salt Lake City has 20 km of groomed trails to explore along with guided tours. This is a one-stop-shop for beginners and advanced skiers with private and group lessons along with clinics and workshops to hone your skills.
8. Sundance Nordic Center
With 15 km of trails, the Sundance Nordic Center has a reputation of a nightly grooming schedule leaving untouched terrain to explore every morning. A network of trails is laid out through pristine back-country offering unique experiences for all ability levels. Trails wind through the woods giving skiers captivating views of Mount Timpanogos and Stewart Falls.
9. Wasatch Mountain State Park
In the winter months, the golf course is a superior spot for cross country skiing since the area is already free of obstacles with a pre-planned, well-groomed 10 km course already in place. At the Wasatch Mountain State Park, there are both flat and hilly terrains available offering breathtaking views of the farms and mountains of Heber Valley.
10. White Pine Touring
A sort of Tour de Utah is available at White Pine Touring since their Nordic center is host to skiing and shopping galore right inside Park City. With 18 km of classic terrain within the town limits, the city offers retail stores and more. Beginners and seasoned skiers are welcome to come out to check out all the memorable terrain in and around this town.
BONUS: The Utah Nordic Alliance
More of a community than a location, The Utah Nordic Alliance is dedicating to all things cross country skiing and adventuring in the backcountry during winter months. This non-profit has paired together with Park Lake City to promote the sport and activity in the area, especially at the Mountain Dell golf course. Their 10 km of trails are well-maintained on the golf course in picturesque Parley’s Canyon.
While the majority of these venues offer rentals, they’re geared more towards actual cross country equipment, skis, poles, etc. Be sure to stock up on your winter clothing and accessories before venturing out to these terrific trails. Finally, from our family to yours, KÜHL would like to wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday season along with an active, adventurous, prosperous and outdoorsy New Year. Happy Trails!
Featured image: Alta Ski Resort, Utah. Photo by Zach Dischner.