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Minnesota Cross Country Skiing For Beginners

Cross country skiing, also referred to as Nordic skiing, is one of many winter traditions enjoyed throughout the state of Minnesota. Every year cross country skiers of all skill levels spend time out on the trails exploring the beautiful Minnesota outdoors, enjoying the company of friends and family, and getting an epic workout in. While there are many challenging trails for cross country skiers who get out each year, there are also great opportunities for beginners and first time skiers on trail systems throughout the state. Here are a few great locations for beginner cross country skiers to get out on the trails this year, including where to rent gear and find easy level trails.

family exploring MN waterfall
For cross country skiing beginners, starting at a park or a golf course is a great way to get your bearings on easy terrain before heading on to more challenging trails. There are many golf courses and parks that open up their trails to the public during the winter months, but a park that offers one of the best experiences is Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. The park offers 23 km of groomed trails, ranging from beginner to advanced, that run through the parkland and woods. The park is also located in a prime location just north of downtown Minneapolis, so you don’t have to travel far from the city to spend some time on the trails. Rental gear, passes, and food are all available at the Trailhead at the park’s entrance, which makes the whole experience easier. Plus you can sign up for a ski lesson if you’ve never been cross country skiing before.
Minnehaha Falls
If you’re new to cross country skiing and looking for a family oriented outdoor themed experience, Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minnesota is the perfect place to start. Family owned and operated, Maplelag Resort offers a welcoming place for beginners to practice and get better on the trails. They maintain and groom 70 km of cross country skiing trails, many of which are suitable for beginners and skiers who are still learning. You can also take advantage of ski rentals and lessons if you stay overnight at the resort, which has many additional amenities to make your stay all the better and more enjoyable. Many visitors make a weekend getaway out of their trip for more time spent exploring the trails and relaxing with friends and family.
Pipestone Falls
One of the most popular cross country skiing trail systems in Minnesota is the Gunflint Trail Cross Country Ski Trails. The trail system is made up of the Central Gunflint Trail System, the Banadad Trail System, and the Upper Gunflint Trail System for over 400 km of cross country ski trails. Beginners can take in the spectacular scenery of the northern Minnesota wilderness while enjoying the groomed and tracked trails within the system. Depending on where cross country skiers go on the system, there are plenty of places to rent gear and get out on the trails. Golden Eagle Lodge and Bearskin Lodge are two great options for cross country ski rentals within the Gunflint Trail system.
Niagara Cave
Right along the St. Croix River in Center City, Minnesota, beginner cross country skiers can enjoy the trail system and center at Wild River State Park. With a 19 mile cross country trail system, fifteen miles of trails groomed and tracked for classic skiing and 6 miles groomed for skate skiing, Wild River State Park has nine different easy trails for beginners. The nearby all season heated trail center is a great place to start your outing with restrooms, a fireplace, and cross country ski rental gear available during the winter months. Wild River State Park is a great location for beginner cross country skiers and has all the amenities to make your winter outing successful and fun.
Niagara Cave
While Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota is a popular winter destination for downhill skiers and snowboarders, they also have two unique locations for Nordic, or cross country, skiing. Offering both the Upper Spirit Mountain Nordic Center and the new Grand Avenue Nordic Center, there are plenty of trails for cross country skiers to explore. The Grand Avenue Nordic Center offers groomed Nordic-specific trails with over half of the trails having full snow making capabilities, making it possible for the trail to be open and user friendly all season long. The Grand Avenue Nordic Center also has a Nordic Rental Package available, so beginners can easily rent equipment and get out on the trails. The Upper Spirit Mountain Nordic Center gives cross country skiers access to wooded cross-country trails with trail levels for all types of cross country skiers.
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