Five Parks and Preserves for Cross Country Skiing in Connecticut

February 11, 2012 9:00 AM

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By Dani Frank

Venturing into the outdoors when your backyard is a winter wonderland is an adventure in and of itself. New England under a blanket of snow is a magical time of year, ignoring the carpet of snow covering the driveway and three or four layers needed to leave the house. Leave the car behind and set out on a set of cross-country skis for a snowy exploration. Whether a seasoned pro or eager to enter the sport, cross-country skiing is a full body exercise that will keep you entertained and active. Grab your poles and check out these five Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEP) approved trails around Connecticut.
winding trails ski area Five Parks and Preserves for Cross Country Skiing in Connecticut

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Winding Trails Cross Country Ski Center
50 Winding Trails Drive
Farmington, CT 06032
(860) 677-8458
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Three hundred and fifty acres of prime Farmington Valley real estate are yours for the skiing, at Winding Trails Cross Country Ski Center. With a 20 kilometer trail system benefitting from daily grooming, confidently push off with your poles, without fear of fallen trees or rocks. Trails are intricately mapped out as well as identified by difficulty; visit the Pine Grove area if a novice skier and head to Back Country for a difficult, trail-blazing journey. Trail passes are $14 for adults, $8 for kids.

105636720 Five Parks and Preserves for Cross Country Skiing in Connecticut

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Chatfield Hollow State Park
381 Route 80
Killingworth, CT 06419
(860) 663-2030

If you’re looking for a challenging trek atop two skis, Chatfield Hollow is happy to have you. Park your car at the convenient winter parking at the entry to the park, and embark on a three-mile trip on the main road, or aggressive eight mile route taking the service road. Known in the summer as a destination for rock climbing, Indian caves to explore and mountain biking, Chatfield Hollow State Park makes for quite the scenic route for skiers.

Gay City State Park
Route 85
Hebron, CT 06248
(860) 649-6615

Hebron’s Gay City State Park is accommodating to you and your cross-country skiing friends, with two lots for plenty of parking, though carpooling is an infinitely more eco-friendly option. A trail map spanning 12 miles of terrain guarantees an up close look at plenty of scenery, as well as a great work out. Gay City State Park is the weekend destination for cross country skiers, providing a weekend warming hut, staffed by the Nordic Ski Patrol, and hosting moonlight tours of the park.

woodbury ski area Five Parks and Preserves for Cross Country Skiing in Connecticut

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Woodbury Ski Area
785 Washington Road
Woodbury, CT 06798
(203) 263.2203
Hours: Weekdays: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Weekends: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Skiing at an established slope will save you the time and energy of lugging your skis and will give you the guarantee of pre-made trails. Woodbury Ski Area offers up their trails for only $15 at any time of day. Ski rentals are also affordably priced, at $32 for a pair. Push off and slide one ski in front of the other, creating your own adventure. For a structured tour of Washington’s rolling hills and hardwood trails, head out with one of Woodbury’s certified cross-country instructors for the day.

bootsredskiis Five Parks and Preserves for Cross Country Skiing in Connecticut

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White Memorial Conservation Center
80 Whitehall Road
Litchfield, CT 06759
(860) 567-0857

The largest nature preserve in the state, Litchfield’s White Memorial Conservation Center boasts 35 miles of trails to hike in the summer, and cross country ski in the winter. The popular preserve has a color-coded trail map and is open all winter long sans fees; pick up a map inside the property’s museum. Free, guided tours of the woodlands are offered on occasion throughout the winter, check with the Conservation Center for availability.

Dani Frank is a fashion, travel and culture enthusiast and writer living in Easton. A recent graduate of Hofstra University, she is most happy when traversing the East Coast and beyond and documenting it all for curious readers. Check out her blog for additional articles and pieces.