Cross-Country Skiing Destinations Near Boston

Cross-country skiing is a total-body workout, and amazing trails are close to Boston.

cross country skiingCross-country skiing photo via Shutterstock

Cross-country skiing (also known as Nordic skiing) is a total-body outdoor workout and if you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out on a fun winter sport. The best part is that we have cross country skiing trails less than 13 miles from Boston.

Winter can be a tough time for people to get into a fitness groove. And when snow covers the ground, it may seem impossible to exercise outdoors—but it doesn’t have to be. Rigorous cross-country skiing can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour because every major muscle group is involved. Since no single muscle is overstressed, the activity can be sustained for hours, which keeps your heart rate up and strengthens lung capacity. Getting fresh air and vitamin D in the middle of winter are added benefits.

If you’re a runner, consider cross-country skiing a form of off-season training. It’s been proven to help develop and maintain a longer stride. So before you go cursing the current weather, here are a few places near Boston to try out this stellar winter exercise.

Weston Ski Track
Miles from Boston: 13
Best for: Beginners, quick afternoon trip

If you’re new to cross-country skiing and don’t want to waste time driving an hour or more to the Berkshires, take the Pike to Weston, where the golf course has an excellent set of groomed beginner trails. The Weston Ski and Snowshoe Club offers about 15km of natural-snow trails for both snowshoeing and skiing. While it’s not a huge area to ski, the trails do wind through trees and along the Charles River, providing a combination of flatlands and mild inclines—with an occasional sharp downhill slope for the thrill-seeker. Weston also makes snow for its 2k groomed loop, which is used for classes ($18/ beginner lesson) and night skiing—and is fortunately open no matter how green your lawn is. All trails are well-maintained, but beware of crowds on the weekend: That’s the price you pay for a winter wonderland.
190 Park Road, Weston; 781-891-6575;; ski pass, $15; rentals, $15

Great Brook Ski Touring Center
Miles from Boston:  30
Best for: All levels, the aesthetically-inclined

The 1,000-acre Great Brook Farm State Park offers 10 miles of groomed tracks through farmland and forests for those city-goers who want an escape. Trails range in level of difficulty from beginner to pro. An easy Lantern Loop around the working dairy farm takes novices through flat fields, while those seeking more of a challenge can test their skills on the black diamond Woodchuck Trail. Great Brook also hosts lantern-lit night skiing on Tuesdays and Thursdays for those who like to avoid weekend crowds. The only downside to skiing Great Brook: They don’t make snow. So be on the lookout for storms, watch their Facebook page for opening dates and times, and be sure to get there early for the first tracks.
1018 Lowell Street, Carlisle; 978-369-7486;; weekend trail pass, $12; rental, $13

Canterbury Farm
Miles from Boston: 124
Best for: Weekend getaway, snow snobs

Hardcore cross-country skiers (who are willing to trek out to Western Massachusetts for the best snow) should head to Canterbury Farm. Situated high in the Berkshire Hills at an elevation of 1,650 feet, the historic farm is host to 22-miles of diverse ski and snowshoe trails through 2,000 acres of private and state lands. Trails meander through old wood stands, and along beaver dams, bubbling brooks, and a large lake. Take Ralph’s Lookout trail for a stunning view of Mount Greylock. The on-site Bed & Breakfast is a cozy place to stay the night with the family—but make sure to wake up in time for Farmer Dave’s Sunday morning nature tour (on ski or snowshoe), which takes visitors to the habitats of beavers, otters, moose, and bears. Think twice about making this two-hour trek if you’re not equipped with a car that can handle snow.
1986 Fred Snow Road, Becket; 413-623-0100;; trail pass, $15; rentals, $20; lessons, $35