How to Plan a Cross-Country Skiing Outing

cross country skiingby Barb Hopkins

Cross country skiing can be a great activity for the whole family. It’s an intense physical activity that exercises the legs, arms and core. Just 60 minutes of cross-country skiing can burn as many as 500 calories. Planning a cross-country skiing trip requires selecting a destination and making sure you have all the necessary equipment. Safety precautions must be taken as well.

Select a Destination

One of the easiest ways to select a destination for your cross-country ski trip is to visit Web sites, such as Adventure Finder. Adventure Finder has links to hundreds of destinations for cross-country skiing worldwide. You can plan trip packages and even sort your selections by who’s going on the trip—family, couples or a group.

The U.S. National Park Service is a great source for finding a fun, picturesque place to ski. Cross-country skiing can be enjoyed in many of the National Parks including Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park. The Park Service provides online trail maps as well as tips and guidelines for planning a cross-country skiing outing within one of the parks.

The Cross Country Ski Areas Association also provides several links to resorts and trails located throughout the United States.

What to Wear

Remember, you will sweat when cross-country skiing. Avoid overheating by dressing in layers and ditching cotton for moisture-wicking under layers. Top the under layer with a light fleece top and thermal tights worn under a waterproof outer ski pant. Opt for a flexible ski jacket or vest plus ski gloves and a hat. Don’t forget you’ll also need ski socks. Consider a lightweight, moisture-wicking pair that covers the calves.

Ski boots are a must. Cross-country ski boots vary in design and by manufacturer. It’s a good idea to get fitted by a qualified professional to ensure proper fit and comfort. Uncomfortable or ill-fitting boots can ruin an entire ski trip. Cross-country ski boots are different from downhill ski boots. Cross-country skiing is considered Nordic skiing—where your boot is attached to the ski at the toe, allowing your heel to move freely.

Renting vs. Buying Equipment

Boots, poles and cross-country skis can be rented or bought for your outing. Beginners should consider renting equipment the first few times they cross-country skiing. This will help you determine the type of ski, pole and boot you feel most comfortable with and which will serve you best for the areas you plan to ski. If you plan to ski several times a season, buy high quality ski equipment that fits properly.

Safety Tips

  • Never head out on the trail alone and never stray from the trail.
  • Always leave a copy of your route with a friend.
  • Always take a pack with a first aid kit, water, energy bar, cell phone, compass and GPS.
  • Pack a waterproof flashlight, extra batteries, multi-tool and duct tape strips.

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  1. A fully charged cell phone is a good idea and if you bring a smartphone there's an ap called SkiTracks that can map your route, measure time, distance and altitude.

    1. In response to madgolfer

      Hello madgolfer!

      Does this application that you mention also have the ability
      to help locate a person who may become buried beneath those heaps of snowy acreage that detach from the side of a mountain?

      Oh, btw, nice to see you again!

    2. In response to madgolfer

      Also madgolfer, I'm intrigued by the image you chose to accompany your name.

      Is that one of those water resistant hibachi barbeque's, attached to the transom of your fishing boat? If it is, I have the same flare-up problem with my own that's attached to the right side fender of my backhoe!

    3. In response to madgolfer

      Hey Hey Tradesman, Good to see you feeling better! The ap would be useful as a GPS if you skiied off a trail but no keg of brandy. And thats just a little photoshop blowing up the "6" hp Merc in the picture (1+5 is 6, right?)


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