10 Best Cross-Country Skiing Trails in Minnesota!

With so many people of Scandinavian descent in Minnesota, it’s not too surprising to discover that folks here love Nordic (cross-country) skiing. In fact, the state hosts two of the nation’s biggest Nordic skiing events: Vassaloppet USA and the City of Lakes Loppet. You don’t have to be a loppet racer to get out and enjoy the Minnesota winter, though. The North Star State has thousands of miles of cross-country trails, many of which are regularly groomed, for all levels of expertise.

Vassaloppet Nordic Center, Mora, MN

One of the nation’s premier cross-country facilities, the Vassaloppet Nordic Center boasts 15 kilometers of groomed trails in Central Minnesota, near Lake Mille Lacs. Some five kilometers are lighted for night skiing. In addition to snow-making equipment, the center also has a chalet with changing rooms, a small kitchen, a waxing room, and saunas.

Afton State Park, Afton, MN

Perched on the bluffs of the gorgeous St. Croix River Valley, Afton State Park offers 12 miles of scenic, groomed cross-country trails, including a 2.5-mile beginner loop. In addition to a warming house at the visitor’s center, this park on the edge of the Twin Cities metro area also has four miles of snowshoeing trails and a kids sledding hill.

Giants Ridge, Biwabik, MN

Located in the heart of Minnesota’s Iron Range, Giants Ridge is a family-friendly resort that, in addition to its downhill facilities, offers 38 miles of groomed cross-country trails, two miles of which are lighted for night skiing. Originally designed for training the U.S. Ski Team, the trail system cuts through the beautiful Superior National Forest and hosts the largest high school cross-country race in the U.S.

Elm Creek Park Reserve, Maple Grove, MN

At 4,900 acres, Elm Creek is the largest unit in the Metro Area’s Three Rivers Park District. The park boasts more than 11 miles of groomed trails, with snowmaking capability on a 1.6-mile loop, so you can ski even when nature’s not cooperating. More than three miles of trails are lighted for night skiing. Elm Creek also offers Nordic equipment rental, lessons, and concessions.

Maplelag Resort, Callaway, MN

Just 20 miles north of Detroit Lakes in Western Minnesota, Maplelag is dedicated to cross-country skiing during the winter. With 70 kilometers of trails groomed for cross-country, ski-skating, and mountain biking, Maplelag challenges visitors to get outside. Host to Nordic Ski camps and competitions, Maplelag is a full-service, family-friendly resort that also offers Nordic lessons and ski waxing services.

Theodore Wirth Park, Minneapolis, MN

Located on the border of Minneapolis and Golden Valley, Theodore Wirth is the largest park in the nationally-renowned Minneapolis park system. Over 15 miles of groomed trails criss-cross the park’s 740 acres. Equipment rental and lessons through the Loppet Foundation will get even novice skiers out on trails that offer views of the Minneapolis skyline, quiet, lakeside forest scenes, and connection to the Chain of Lakes trails. Intrepid urban skiers can ski from Golden Valley to the southern edge of Minneapolis without leaving the city.

Sugarbush Trail, Lutsen-Tofte, MN

Skiers who want to get away from it all and simply enjoy nature in its winter clothing should head to the Tofte area. There, the Sugarbush Trail association maintains more than 65 kilometers of cross-country trails in the Superior National Forest, northeast of Duluth. The remote forest offers stunning vistas of the Sawbill Mountains and Lake Superior as skiers revel in quietude. Because of its remoteness, there are no real amenities available on the trail, but local outfitters offer rentals not too far from trailheads. Beginners in the area can take lessons at the nearby Lutsen Mountains ski area.

Hyland Lake Park Reserve, Bloomington, MN

Part of the Three Rivers Parks District, Hyland Lake Park Reserve is perhaps the best all-around ski destination within the Twin Cities Metro. In addition to its busy downhill facilities, the park boasts 9.5 miles of groomed cross-country trails, of which six miles are lighted. Advanced snowmaking equipment, rentals and lessons will ensure that skiers have as a long a cross-country season, as possible.

Root River State Trail, Fillmore County, MN

A 42-mile trail that curves through the bluff country between Fountain and Houston, Minnesota, the Root River State Trail offers gorgeous skiing through the hardwood forests and quaint towns connected by the winding Root River. The terrain is mostly level, though a few hilly spots can make parts of it a little more challenging. While there are no amenities on the remote parts of the trail, rentals, food and lodging can be found in the towns along the way. State ski permits are required.

Gunflint Trail, Cook County, MN

Folks ready for a big cross-country adventure should head north to the Gunflint Trail. The system contains more than 200 km of remote, groomed trails. Despite its remote, pine-forested terrain, the trail is dotted with lodges, yurts and other places where skiers can find equipment, food, accommodation. Those who want to prepare before hitting the trails can hit one of the outfitters in Grand Marais for equipment and supplies.

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20461 Highway 66, Mankato, MN
With Mount Kato’s state of the art snowmaking equipment, you can be assured that during winter even if you do not have snow in your backyard,... Read More
15400 Buck Hill Road, Burnsville, MN
HistoryTen thousand years ago, the last ice age receded from the northern half of the North American continent. The Minnesota River helped drain th... Read More
19600 Irvine Avenue North West, Bemidji, MN
After the first ski run was cleared in 1936 by Leonard R. Dickinson, Buena Vista had family & neighbors skiing on the slope known as the " Big ... Read More
8800 Chalet Road, Bloomington, MN
Winter sports enthusiasts love Hyland Ski & Snowboard Area (HSSA). Located within Hyland Lake Park Reserve, HSSA is the place for downhill skii... Read More
445 Ski Hill Road, Lutsen, MN
For over 60 years, Lutsen has had the topography to lay claim to the largest ski area in the Midwest. And being the premier destination ski area in... Read More
26685 County Road 7 Boulevard, Welch, MN
Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Resort was founded by the Nelson Brothers, Clemens and Leigh, with their wives, Grace and Mary, in August 1965. The... Read More
30501 Maplelag Road, Callaway, MN
HistoryJim and Mary (along with Jim's brother and two other couples) originally bought 56 acres of land on Little Sugarbush Lake for use as recreat... Read More
9500 Spirit Mountain Place, Duluth, MN
MissionIn accordance with the enabling legislation that created Spirit Mountain Recreation Area in 1973, our Mission is to develop a wide range of ... Read More
1801 East Skyline, Duluth, MN
About UsChester Bowl is a beautiful 117 acre park in Duluth, MN. In the winter the alpine hill, with a double chair lift and 175 feet of drop, hand... Read More
4348 Rice Lake Road, Duluth, MN
Snowflake Nordic Center is a privately operated year-round family recreation center. We offer a wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities. A d... Read More
11 Poplar Creek Drive, Grand Marais, MN
These facilities are owned and operated by Boundary Country Trekking. The company has conducted Adventure Trips in Northern Minnesota since 1978. C... Read More
468 Clearwater Road, Grand Marais, MN
Golden Eagle Lodge offers a private campground with the same personalized service as our cabins. We have 9 sites, each with a picnic table, fire ri... Read More
400 Quadna Road, Hill City, MN
Families, young and old, return again and again to Hill City and Quadna. Area attractions include Forest History Center, Judy Garland Museum, Missi... Read More
3719 West Highway 61, Lutsen, MN
A landmark property on the North Shore of Lake Superior, providing warm hospitality since 1927, Cascade Lodge is the premier family resort on Lake ... Read More
5700 W Highway 61, Lutsen, MN
HistoryLutsen Resort is Minnesota's oldest resort. In 1885, the rugged natural beauty of Lake Superior's North Shore prompted Charles Axel Nelson, ... Read More
37200 Wild Mountain Road, Taylors Falls, MN
About Us Wild Mountain/Taylors Falls Recreation, offering a tradition of year round outdoor family FUN! Nestled in the scenic St Croix Valley near ... Read More
29409 170th Street, Detroit Lakes, MN
About Us:Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. The Mission of Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Inc. is to... Read More
9898 County Road 77 SouthWest, Nisswa, MN
About UsMount Ski Gull operates a registered non-profit 501c3 facility that receives no local, state or federal funding. Lift tickets sales and sea... Read More
6600 Peller Avenue South, Hastings, MN
For 51 years, Afton Alps has delighted the Twin Cities' families as one of the Midwest's premier winter destinations. Nestled in the scenic St. Cro... Read More
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