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Along for the Glide – Cross-Country Skiing Spots in Connecticut

There’s more to skiing in Connecticut than downhill runs. For fans of cross-country or Nordic skiing, there are lots of places to ski, whether you’re a beginner, weekender or expert. Burning up to 600 calories an hour, cross-country skiing can be quite a workout, but it’s also a great way to experience the calm and stillness of some of Connecticut’s most breathtaking natural surroundings at your own pace. After a fresh snowstorm, you’ll find dozens of trails come to life in Connecticut, both groomed and natural, where you can indulge your senses in the beauty of a New England winter.


Winding Trails Cross Country Ski Center, Farmington

Whether you’ve been skiing for years or are just starting out, Winding Trails is a peaceful winter wonderland in the heart of the Farmington Valley. Connecticut’s only full service cross-country ski center offers an extensive, well maintained trails system (for a fee), as well as equipment rentals, tours and training.

With 12½ miles of trails, Winding Trails features everything a cross-country skier needs, from lessons for beginners to more challenging trails for experts. According to Scott Brown, Executive Director of Winding Trails, the benefits of coming to Connecticut’s premier cross-country ski center include “expertly groomed trails, maintained by rolling, packing and setting track so they’re ready. You also have rentals, lessons, first aid and a snack bar and fireplace here. And most importantly, the trails are meant for skiers, so you won’t have hikers leaving uneven footprints in the trails.”

Brown says cross country-skiing is one of the best aerobic exercises and a great way to burn calories. “But really, the key is to just get out and enjoy winter.”

father and son on cross-country skis

Cross-Country Skiing in Connecticut’s State Parks

Of course, cross-country skiing is also allowed on all multi-use trails and roads in all Connecticut state parks and forests, including Hop River State Park, which AAA recently named a top destination for cross-country skiing. You should plan to go when there is decent snow cover though, as most trails aren’t groomed for skiers and things like rocks and roots can make cross-country skiing difficult, and even dangerous. 

Here are some popular spots for cross-country skiing (and snowshoeing) around Connecticut (bring your own gear!):

  • Gay City State Park in Hebron has over 11 miles of multi-use trails on 1,569 acres. Although the trails are not groomed for cross-country skiing, the road and open fields are great places for the novice skiers and those interested in snow shoeing. The main gate of the park is closed, with winter parking just off Route 85. (Dogs must be on a leash.)
  • Hamden’s Sleeping Giant State Park maintains a cross-country ski trail on the north side of the park. The trail is accessible from the north end of the Red Circle Trail on Tuttle Ave., or the north end of the Red Square Trail on Mansion Rd. or the east end of the Violet, Green, White, Orange and Yellow trails on Chestnut Lane. 
  • In Wallingford, and now Meriden, the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail offers a well-maintained trail for cross-country skiing when the snow gets deep enough.
  • Although trails are not groomed, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are welcome at Litchfield’s White Memorial Conservation Center, the largest nature preserve in the state. (Dogs are permitted, but must be leashed at all times.)
  • In eastern Connecticut, check out the trails at the James L. Goodwin State Forest. Located off Route 6 in Hampton, the forest features 14 miles of well-maintained trails with kiosks and signage, and offers recreation for every season of the year.
  • Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth is another great spot. In winter the main gate is closed, but there is a parking lot just off Route 80.  The blue blazed trail is for foot travel only, but all the other trails are non-motorized multi-use. The longest trail is the 2.5-mile Deep Woods (orange trail). The yellow blazed trail, known as the Old Witches Hollow Trail, is only .5 miles in length. Staying overnight? Don’t miss the Chatfield Hollow Inn for an authentic lodge experience.

Make it a Winter Getaway!

Looking for other things to do in the area this time of year?  Check out our Winter Only getaway!

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