Skip to content

Forget Dieting: Go Skiing


Starting to feel the mid-winter blues? Got cabin fever? Now that football season is over do you feel a void in your weekends?

Well, get out of the house, into the big outdoors, put on a pair of cross-country skis and enjoy what is left of the winter days.

Cross-country skiing is an amazing aerobic exercise, is free or costs very little, and can be done anywhere there is five of six inches of snow (or more) on the ground. It’s a perfect sport for over-50 individuals because it is safe and fun.

According to research, a 130-pound person skiing at a racing pace burns 826 calories per hour, while a 155-pound person burns 985 and a 190-pound individual, consumes a whopping 1,208 calories every hour.

Even at a leisurely pace, a 130-pound person burns 413 calories per hour, a 155-pounder 493 calories and a 190-pound person 604 calories.

A 190-pound person putting in a maximum effort uphill on cross-country skis burns off a staggering 1,423 calories an hour. And, unlike jogging, basketball or tennis, cross-country skiing is fairly easy on the body.

There is no pounding on pavement or treadmills just the simple sliding motion of one ski in front of the other as you traverse the backwoods or fields. In addition to being a great cardiovascular exercise, it provides the individual with a deeply moving experience of peace and quietude that is sometimes hard to find in today’s hectic world.

Of course, proper apparel is essential to withstand the cold while also allowing the skin to breathe during a cross-country trek. Today’s high-tech clothing is ideal for the task because it wicks away sweat from the skin and passes it to the outer lining of apparel to keep the body dry and warm.

Once you make your original equipment purchase, cross-country skiing is generally free. The exception is a charge (usually minimal) if you go to a maintained cross-country area at a downhill or a ski touring facility, which often have snowmaking equipment to allow skiing in all types of winter weather. But the Berkshires and Litchfield County have numerous parks and nature preserves and even rail trails where you can ski free.

In the Berkshires, Canterbury Farm Ski Touring Center in Becket has 22 kilometers of groomed and tracked trails that pass along brooks, ponds, stone walls, lakes, fields and mountains.

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. There’s more than six kilometers of groomed skate and classic trails, over five kilometers of un-groomed woods road terrain and 200 acres in all to explore.

A wonderful venue for a stay and ski getaway is Cranwell Resort and Spa in Lenox. The resort offers 10 kilometers of scenic, groomed trails and also welcomes snowshoeing enthusiasts.

Notchview, a Trustees of Reservations conservation property in Windsor MA, is home to both the largest cross-country skiing area in Massachusetts with more than 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.

Maple Corner Farm in Granville offers 20 kilometers of marked classic and skate Nordic skiing trails on a family farm in operation since 1812. At 1,400 feet in elevation, Maple Corner’s snow tends to stick around a while and skiing is usually good through March.

There are plenty of trails in Northwest Connecticut to take advantage of. Litchfield’s White Memorial Conservation Center has 35 miles of un-groomed carriage roads available for the sport. And Woodbury Ski and Racquet advertises that it has a number of miles of groomed cross-country trails. Winding Trails Cross-Country Ski Center winds through some 15 miles of trails in Farmington that are groomed daily during peak snow season. The trails are double-tracked and wide and also mapped and marked with degrees of difficulty.

Cross-country skiing is permitted in all of Connecticut’s state parks and forests and the state Department of Environmental Protection has designated 12 parks that are particularly suited to the sport. Four of the best in Northwest Connecticut are People’s State Forest in Barkhamsted, Mohawk State Forest in Cornwall, Macedonia Brook State Park in Kent and Dennis Hill State Park in Norfolk. All have miles of trails.

So get off the couch and onto the ski trails. And let’s hope for more snow!