Deep in the woods and across the meadows of Western Massachusetts, skiers kick and skate across the landscape snow-covered landscape. From north to south, hundreds of miles of nordic skiing trails on private and public land wind their way through tunnels of snow-covered conifers, between widely spaced hardwood glades, and across centuries-old farm fields. Whether you’re looking for an afternoon of cross country skiing close to New York City, or a weekend of heart-pounding adventure, the Berkshires offer an experience for every interest and ability.
With 22 kilometers of groomed and tracked trails, Canterbury Farm, high on the Berkshire plateau in Becket, offers a diverse trail system winding through meadows and forests, all centered around a classic Berkshire bed and breakfast. With an elevation of 1,700 feet you’ll find a consistent snowpack throughout the winter as you ski and snowshoe past rocky brooks, peaceful ponds, scenic vistas and even pieces of area history. Canterbury Farm is a full service cross country ski area, complete with rental equipment (skis, ice skates and snowshoes), cross country ski instructors, a ski tuning shop, cafe, and of course, the cozy lodgings of the bed and breakfast to retire to after a long day on the trail. You’ll find Canterbury Farms only 9 miles (15 minutes) off of the Lee exit of I-90. Weekend and holiday trail fees are $15 per day for adults and $12 for children, and lodging rates start at $160 per night in the bed and breakfast. Visit Canterbury-Farms.com for days, hours and conditions.
In the valley below, along scenic Route 7, Cranwell Resort grooms and maintains 10 kilometers of beautiful cross country skiing trails encircling the historic resort in the town of Lenox. The trails all start at the resort’s Sloane’s Tavern and cross through mostly open terrain, which makes them perfect for beginner and intermediate nordic skiers. Next to the tavern you’ll find the rental center, where you can rent cross country skis and snowshoes and purchase your trail pass, which runs $16 for adults for a full day of skiing and $10 for a half day, with discounts on both for kids and seniors. If you’re planning a weekend escape, take advantage of everything Cranwell Resort has to offer with their Berkshire Ski Getaway Weekend for only $203 per person, which includes unlimited cross country skiing at Cranwell, one night of lodging at the resort, a lift ticket to one of the Berkshires’ two biggest downhill ski areas, a $20 dining credit for any Cranwell restaurant, and full use of the resort’s spa to relax after a long day of winter adventure. Visit Cranwell.com for days, hours and conditions.
One of the most unique nordic skiing experiences in the Berkshires has to be skiing through the rows of apple trees at Hilltop Orchards in Richmond. With over six kilometers of groomed skate and classic trails — two trails were recently designed by Olympic biathlon skier, John Morton — over five kilometers of ungroomed woods road terrain and 200 acres in all to explore, Hilltop Orchards offers a little bit of everything that can be found on skinny skis. Hilltop features a full rental shop (cross country skis and snowshoes), Professional Ski Instructors of America cross country ski lessons, and another truly unique experience — a fireside wine tasting of the orchard’s own wines. Full day trail fees at Hilltop Orchards are $15 for adults and $12 for children, with $20 rentals for all ages. Visit HilltopOrchards.com for days, hours and conditions.
Notchview, a Trustees of Reservations conservation property in Windsor, is home to both the largest cross country skiing area in Massachusetts, and now the second best nordic ski patrol in the United States, as voted by the National Ski Patrol. With over 3,000 acres to explore and 40 kilometers of nordic trails (27 kilometers of groomed terrain) all at elevations of 2,000 feet or more, there is a seemingly endless amount of terrain and snow to explore on your skinny skis. This year Notchview has added cross country ski rentals, nordic lessons and a cafe-style food service in their lodge provided by the Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington. Adults can ski all day on the weekend at Notchview for $8 for Trustees of Reservations members and $15 for non-members. Children are free for members and $6 for non-members. Visit TheTrustees.org for days, hours and conditions.
On the eastern slopes of the Berkshires, Maple Corner Farm in Granville offers 20 kilometers of marked classic and skate nordic skiing trails on a family farm which has been in operation since 1812. Start off at Maple Corner’s warming hut, complete with a woodstove, full service rental area, lesson center and snackbar, fill up with a pile of fluffy pancakes topped with the farm’s own maple syrup — it’s in the name, you know — and hit the trails to explore pastures, mountain streams and the farm’s sugarbush. At 1,400 feet in elevation, Maple Corner’s snow tends to stick around a while, so when it’s brown down below, check their snow report as they’re likely skiing straight through March, which is often sugaring season as well. Adult all day weekend trail tickets are $10, kids 6-12 are $9. Visit MapleCornerFarm.com for days, hours and conditions.
___________________________For more information on cross country skiing in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, visit XCSkiMass.com. The site is filled with details about exploring some of the closest cross country skiing adventures to New York City, and you can also purchase a seven-pass booklet, which includes one discounted cross country trail pass for each of the Berkshires’ seven nordic skiing areas.