Top Cross Country Skiing Spots - USA

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Cross-country skiing is less speedy -- and therefore less intimidating -- than its steep-sloped cousin, downhill skiing. It also burns more calories, as skiers glide along snowy trails and skate up inclines.

So, for those of you trying to stay true to your resolutions, the sport may be the perfect way to get more exercise and take in a dose of nature in the process.

Here is my recommendation of five places to hit the horizontal slopes    

Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area, Lake Tahoe, California

The area around Lake Tahoe, which straddles the border between California and Nevada, is ripe with cross-country skiing opportunities.
you can spend a whole week here and ski at a different area every day.

lakeside scenery is top-notch, as is the skier culture. You likely will find buddies who will share trail stories and a drink after a long day on the trails.

Murnane's ski area allows dogs on some trails and offers free lessons to help learners adjust to the balance-intensive sport.

Trail passes at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area are $21 for adults, but ask about specials. On Tuesdays, passes run $12. Groups and early-morning skiers also get a discount.

Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

Owned by descendants of Maria von Trapp -- yes, that Trapp family, whose life inspired "The Sound of Music" -- the Trapp Family Lodge brings a little piece of Austria's lively hills to the mountains of Vermont.
 Johannes von Trapp, the real Maria's youngest son, helped open the lodge in 1968. The family had been in the lodging business before the musical film starring Julie Andrews debuted in 1965.

It's beautiful. It backs up to the mountains and you've got a great view of a lot of trails,
The lodge offers a range of promotions, from wine-and-dine packages to those geared toward "winter wellness."

The lodge offers rooms and chalets ranging from $275 to $475 per night. Go for the two-night package and you'll get ski rentals, breakfast, dinner and lodging for both days for $500 per person.

Methow Valley, Winthrop, Washington

Northeast of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains, nearly 125 miles of ski trails connect the villages of Methow Valley. It's almost as if cross-country skiing becomes a form of transportation in and around the area.

While the linear path is "not a typical layout" compared to most cross-country loops,  the trails offer a sense of adventure and exploration.

At one end, you'll find The Sun Mountain Lodge, which is the area's luxurious gem. But the valley also has hangouts for the Bohemian traveler: The Old Schoolhouse Brewery sells $4 pints in a smart red building and the local food cooperative offers organic smoothies and sandwiches.

Trail passes run $20 for adults and $10 for teens ages 13 to 17.

Cable Area, Cable, Wisconsin

Northern Wisconsin is proof that you don't need huge mountains for good skiing.

The Cable Area is located in the midst of the Chequamegon National Forest with an abundance of wildlife, unspoiled lake, and recreational activities for all to enjoy. The Cable Area consits of the communities of Cable, Drummond, Grand View and Namakagon.

The Cable Area boasts one of the world's biggest cross-country ski races and is regarded by some as the birthplace for the sport in North America.

Within the radius of an hour's drive, you could probably find 30 or 40 trail systems of all sizes and shapes.

The Telemark Resort offers trail passes that are cheaper than most: $11 per day. Lodging at the resort ranges from $79 for a room in the lodge to $275 for a 1,000-square-foot condo.

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