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Cross-Country Skiing Near Denver

Oct 27th, 2021

Winter is on its way, and that means our sunny summer hikes will soon be replaced by snowy bluebird outings. 

There’s more to winter sports than just skiing and snowboarding, though, especially if you’re not a fan of those chilly in-between moments on the lifts (join the club!).

Cross-country skiing (also known as Nordic skiing) is a great way to get outside in colder months, and you don’t always need to buy a pass from a resort to do it. Many summer hiking trails are popular Nordic trails after snow has fallen, providing ample opportunity to explore the Colorado Rockies all year ‘round. 

Here are just a few Nordic trails close to our luxury Denver apartments, but this is by no means a comprehensive list. If there are some hikes that you like in the summer, there’s a good chance that you’ll find some info on cross-country activities there in the winter, too. All you have to do is look!

Have fun!

Nordic trails near Denver

Racoon Trail Loop

Drive time: ~ 1 hr

Total trails: 1

Winter trail status: not groomed

Total mileage: 2.5 mile loop

Elevation: 500 ft. 

Costs/fees: State Park fee

Difficulty levels: easy

This gentle loop offers astounding views of the surrounding mountains at Panorama Point in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Eldora Mountain Resort 

Drive time: ~1 hr, 10 mins

Total trails: 25

Total mileage: 35 miles

Winter trail status: groomed and not groomed

Elevation: 500 ft. 

Costs/fees: $6-$32 (daily passes) 

Difficulty levels: easy-difficult

Eldora Mountain Resort is known for its downhill skiing, but its Nordic Center is just as elaborate and scenic. The wealth of trails wind quietly through meadows and forests and up grueling slopes to mountain peaks, giving skiers plenty of opportunity to try different excursions.

Lost Lake Trail

Drive time: ~1 hr, 15 mins

Total trails: 1

Winter trail status: not groomed

Total mileage: 5.4 miles roundtrip

Elevation: 1,026 ft.

Costs/fees: free

Difficulty levels: Moderate-Difficult

Lost Lake is a popular trail in the summer, and equally so in the winter. Snow on the road in winter means you’ll have to park a little lower down the road from the trailhead, but the views along the trail and lake are worth the extra work. 

Keystone Nordic Center

Drive time: ~1 hr, 20 mins

Total trails: 5

Total mileage: 9 miles

Winter trail status: groomed and not groomed

Elevation: 54-253

Costs/fees: $70-$112 (daily passes)

Difficulty levels: easy-difficult

If you’re new to cross-country skiing, then the Keystone Nordic Center is the place to be! The groomed trails are perfect for ski lessons and guided tours, and the 35+ miles in the surrounding wilderness is ideal for the more experienced skiers. 

Frisco Nordic Center

Drive time: ~1 hr, 20 mins

Total trails: 16

Total mileage: 17 miles

Winter trail status: groomed 

Costs/fees: $22-$27 (daily passes)

Difficulty levels: easy-difficult

Not all of us are built for downhill skiing, so having a Nordic center in the midst of downhill giants like Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone Resort and Vail, is like finding a gem among, well, other gems. 

The center is just outside downtown Frisco and is a stone’s throw from Dillon Reservoir, ensuring skiers scenic views and cozy lodges to return to. 

Vail Nordic Center

Drive time: ~1 hr, 40 mins

Total trails: 6

Total mileage: 10.5 miles

Winter trail status: groomed 

Elevation: 40-100 ft. 

Costs /fees: $15-$20 (daily passes)

Difficulty levels: easy-moderate

Vail is the poster-city for downhill skiing, and its Nordic Center is just as impressive!

As soon as snow covers the Vail Golf Club, the Vail Nordic Center emerges for its winter season, offering a wealth of trails as well as an outdoor store, ski rental shops and daily lessons. Plus, finish a great day of skiing with a cup of hot chocolate or a buffet lunch at the Nordic lodge.

Emerald Lake Trail

Drive time: ~2 hrs

Total trails: 1

Winter trail status: not groomed

Total mileage: 3.5 miles roundtrip

Elevation: 650 ft. 

Costs /fees: National Park fee 

Difficulty levels: easy

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park, this picturesque hike is as scenic in winter as it is in summer, and the icy winter wonderland makes for an ideal cross-country ski trip. 

The trail is moderate with an elevation gain of 650 feet over 1.8 miles, peaking at 10,110 feet at Emerald Lake at the top. Take the trail slowly and keep an eye out for the frozen waterfalls and alpine lakes you’ll pass along the way. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Nordic skiing around Denver, so give these trails a go and see how you like them! 


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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/Free-Photos

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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