Top Places For

Cross-Country Skiing

Winter can be fleeting in the Chesapeake region -- but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it! When snow falls, head out to one of these great spots to experience the season on a cross-country skiing adventure.

Explore a winter wonderland on skis at places like Boyd Big Tree Preserve, Susquehanna State Park, and High Bridge Trail, where you can glide down trails freshly coated with snow. You need about 4 inches of snow for a good base on pavement, and a few more than that to ski along trails. So when that big storm hits, get outside and discover a peaceful, snowy scene that will make you thankful it’s winter -- at least for a little while.

With about a dozen state parks scattered throughout the middle portion of the state, Pennsylvania is a splendid destination for cross-country skiing in the Chesapeake region. From the open fields of Caledonia State Park to the miles of trails and service roads at Reeds Gap, the choices for cross-country skiing around the Susquehanna are endless.

The mountains aren’t just for downhill skiing -- there are lots of cross-country trails out west, too! At the furthest edge of the Chesapeake region, visit Savage River State Forest or Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks, where you can ski for miles on tranquil backcountry trails.

When the weather cooperates, you can cross-country ski at many places close to home. Glide down the towpath beside the icy Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, or head out from Mount Vernon Estate on a trail along the Potomac River. Near Baltimore, try your skis on the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail or the paved Grist Mill Trail at Patapsco Valley State Park.

Hit the trails for a fun winter adventure at the top places for cross-country skiing.

Bald Eagle State Park

Bald Eagle State Park

The 5,900-acre Bald Eagle State Park is in the broad Bald Eagle Valley of northcentral Pennsylvania. The 1,730-acre lake laps the flanks of Bald Eagle Mountain, surrounded by forests, fields and wetlands.

Howard, PA

Biker on the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail

Baltimore and Annapolis Trail

The Baltimore and Annapolis Trail Park in central Maryland features a paved surface ten feet wide set within a corridor of parkland over thirteen miles long. The linear park is shared by walkers, runners, bicyclists, rollerbladers, and others.

Severna Park, MD

Trail at Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area

Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area

The park straddles Blue Mountain and is the habitat of large trees of numerous species, which are homes for deep forests birds, especially warblers. Hunting, hiking, and environmental education programs are available.

Harrisburg, PA

Hikers at Caledonia State Park

Caledonia State Park

Caledonia State Park is in the northernmost section of the Blue Ridge Mountains known locally as South Mountain, near Gettysburg. The park provides picnicking, fishing, hiking, golfing, and camping opportunities.

Fayetteville, PA

Tree Lined Road Through Catoctin Mountain Park

Catoctin Mountain Park

With 25 miles of trails winding through Catoctin Mountain Park, a variety of experiences are available ranging from easy to strenuous, many leading to outstanding scenic vistas.

Thurmont, MD

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NHP

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park lets visitors explore history and the Potomac River along the 184 mile canal from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD.

Potomac, MD

Codorus State Park

Codorus State Park

Lake Marburg, which predominates the park, has 26 miles of shoreline and is a reststop for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. The lake is also popular with sailboaters, motorboaters, and anglers.

Hanover, PA

Cowans Gap State Park

Cowans Gap State Park

A 42-acre lake, large campground, rustic cabins and many hiking trails are prime attractions at Cowans Gap State Park, which is surrounded by state forest land.

Fort Loudon, PA

Gifford Pinchot State Park

Gifford Pinchot State Park

Gifford Pinchot State Park consists of reverting farm fields and wooded hillsides, with the 340-acre Pinchot Lake serving as a prime attraction.

Lewisberry, PA

Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park protects the stream valleys of the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls and the Gunpowder River. The long, narrow 18,000 acre park ranges from tidal marshes and wetlands near the Bay to steep, rugged slopes upstream.

Middle River, MD

High Bridge Trail State Park

High Bridge Trail State Park

High Bridge Trail State Park is a multi-use trail ideally suited for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Its centerpiece is the majestic High Bridge, which is more than 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River.

Green Bay, VA

Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area

Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area

Dominated by large hardwood trees, this large block of nearly unbroken forest is a haven for wildlife like forest warblers and other deep-woods animals. A main attraction to the conservation area is the elaborate trail system.

Halifax, PA

Swimming Pool sits along Holman Lake at Little Buffalo State Park

Little Buffalo State Park

The cool, clear water of Little Buffalo Creek has been attracting people for centuries. American Indians frequented Little Buffalo Creek on hunting trips. Today, Little Buffalo State Park is a place to picnic, swim, fish, hike and more.

Newport, PA

Mont Alto State Park

Mont Alto State Park

This quiet park features a unique pavilion, picnicking and trout fishing. Mont Alto is the oldest park still in the state park system.

Mont Alto, PA

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley includes five developed recreational areas, providing hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails, as well as picnicking for individuals or large groups in the park's many popular pavilions.

Ellicott City, MD

Honey Creek at Reeds Gap State Park

Reeds Gap State Park

Reeds Gap State Park is 220 acres of wilderness in the New Lancaster Valley of Mifflin County. Large hemlocks and white pines cast cool shadows over Honey Creek, which flows through the park.

Milroy, PA

Savage River State Forest

Savage River State Forest

Savage River State Forest's more than 54,000 acres of rugged terrain challenges hikers, hunter, anglers and mountain bikers alike. The secluded forest provides shade during warm months and a cool place to camp at night.

Barton, MD

Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area - Lonecellotheory/Flickr

Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

Enjoy spectacular scenery and outstanding outdoor recreation at the headwaters of the Potomac River.

Seneca Rocks, WV

Hiawatha River Boat on the Susquehanna River

Susquehanna State Park (PA)

This 20-acre riverfront recreational area is in the city of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The park offers boating, fishing, picnicking and cruises on a paddlewheeler.

Williamsport, PA

Susquehanna River from Susquehannock State Park

Susquehannock State Park

The 224-acre Susquehannock State Park is on a wooded plateau overlooking the Susquehanna River in southern Lancaster County. Besides the awesome view, the park offers a variety of recreational opportunities for year-round fun.

Drumore, PA

November 30, 2015

Main image: Hit the trails for a fun winter adventure at the top places for cross-country skiing. (Image courtesy: Trail Voice / Flickr)
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