So you want to try cross country skiing.

So you want to try cross country skiing.

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 01/04/22 •  3 min read

As someone who runs a website for downhill skiing, you might think that talking about cross country is off the table. Here’s a surprise: It’s not. As downhill skiers, it’s all too easy to get caught up in our own particular brand of fun. But we could be doing ourselves a disservice: There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors in the winter, and if we can expand our range to include cross country, so much the better. Cross country is a great way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. And hey, there are no lift lines!

The question is how to begin. If you’re thinking about trying cross country — maybe you got cross country gear over the holidays — here are some great tips from Roger Lohr, editor at

Where to go. Avoid making your own tracks on a local golf course or unmaintained trail. At least for your first few outings, go to a cross country ski area or resort that uses machines to make the snow consistently skiable (Google “cross country skiing near me”). Take advantage of their tenderized trails instead of trying to deal with varied conditions in your back yard.

Take lessons. Like downhill skiing, it helps to have someone show you the ropes. Different instructors can show you different things, so take more than one.

Ski flat terrain. Just as you wouldn’t tackle a black diamond when you first started downhill, take it easy if you’re new to the sport. On your initial outings, avoid significant uphill or downhill trails, if possible.

Don’t overdress. You’ll generate a lot of heat — more so than downhill. Avoid cotton t-shirts and alpine ski wear. Instead, wear a top and bottom base layer, medium weight socks that’ll keep you warm if they get wet, light overpants, and a turtleneck shirt. Add a sweater if it’s cold, and wear a lightweight jacket. You can always add or remove layers, if you have them with you. You’ll also need light gloves (more than a liner glove, perhaps with leather palms) and consider brining a second pair. A light hat is important, as is a neck gaiter on a cold or windy day.

Don’t overdo. As in don’t ski too far or for too long a time. If you’re new to cross country skiing, you’ll probably be using different muscles and body parts, and the techniques will be new to you, too. Also — and this is important — make sure you have some water to drink. You’ll need it.

Appreciate the outdoors. Finally, stop and acknowledge nature. Enjoy the scenery. Take some photos. And more importantly, have fun.


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