Cross-country ski trails and trail systems for all abilities
While Whiteface Mountain may reign supreme in the ski-sports realm in our region, there are plenty of cross-country ski trails out there for all ability levels. If a busy day at the mountain isn’t calling you, or cross-country skiing is simply your thing, here are some trails you’ll be sure to enjoy in the Whiteface Region.
Flume Trails - Easy
Finding these trails in the shadow of Whiteface, beginners will enjoy flat to rolling terrain on this mountain biking system turned cross-country ski trail network. If you’re intimidated by getting lost, don’t be! The Flume trails are well-signed and often point back to where you started at the trailhead. You’ll love looping the Delta trail with the Corridor trail, and if you have time, do an out-and-back on the Lower Connector trail.
Hardy Road (Beaver Brook) Trails - Easy/intermediate
Another summer mountain biking trail system, Hardy Road is equally recreationally rewarding come winter. A good warm-up for the day would be to hit the Coniferous Trail on the east side of the road since it doesn’t gain or lose nearly any elevation. Once those legs are loose, hop over to the west side of the road to loop Make Believe with the Doubletime trail. For the intermediate cross-country skiers, try out the Twisted Pines trail, which has more elevation gain/loss with some tighter turns.
Intermediate - Whiteface Landing
At just over 6.5 miles round trip and 500 feet of elevation gain, Whiteface Landing is a great option for someone who has experience in cross-country skiing and wants that first taste of a backcountry setting. While the elevation gain may not sound like a lot, much of it is gained between 1 and 2.5 miles, which means the downhill on the way back is exciting. The entire length is rather well-traveled, and views from the middle point across frozen Lake Placid are picturesque.
Intermediate - Poorman’s Downhill
As the name suggests, with two cars, you don’t even have to travel uphill to enjoy this ski. Poorman's mostly wide trail drops 1,200 feet over 3 miles, with one superb section nearly a mile long where you may not even have to stop depending on conditions. This is a great option if you are pressed for time, and have a friend willing to spot a car with you. Bonus, you’re right in Wilmington, so grabbing pre-ski coffee or post-ski soup is a no-brainer.
Intermediate - Clements Pond
With downhill sections to and from this gem of a backcountry pond, cross-country skiing to Clements can be a day full up climbin' and cruisin', complete with a lovely lunch location. The ascent to the height of land before the pond is steady, gaining around 600 feet in one mile, with the descent to the pond coming in at just around a half mile with 150 feet of descent. If you're worried about the steepness of the first part of trail, consider packing up your skis for this trip after a few inches of fresh powder has fallen.
Advanced - Cooper Kiln
At just under 6 miles, and over 1,900 feet of descent, the Cooper Kiln traverse is a gnarly car-to-car ski, and only for advanced skiers. This trail mimics the idea of Poorman’s Downhill, with much more elevation loss than gain, but at a different skill level. Preparation for this trip, in addition to years of experience, includes a full pack of food, water, layers, and emergency items. Along the way, you’ll weave through spruce-covered mountain ridges, soak in views from a lean-to on frozen Cooper Kiln Pond (great for snowshoeing too!), and cruise downhill on tight turns and varied terrain.
When you're out enjoying these trails, keep in mind that the Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA) puts in the hard work to advocate for, build, and maintain much of the mountain bike trails we like to ski in the winter! And while you're back in town enjoying a hot meal after your cross-country ski adventure, consider donating to BETA!