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man cross country skiing at Milan hill with his dog Women skiing at Cannon Mountain

Snowshoeing and XC Skiing

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities in State Parks, Forests, and Recreational Rail Trails.

Although many trails, including groomed snowmobile trails, are signed for other uses, all trails in the parks and forests are available for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, unless specified otherwise. 

Be sure to familiarize yourself with trail etiquette before using trails.

Recommended State Parks for Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing:

Bear Brook State ParkAllenstown - Many cross country ski trails start from the skiers' parking lot located off Podunk Road. Intermediate to advanced terrain.  Bear Brook Trails Map    Bear Brook Trails Guide    Bear Brook Winter Map 

Franconia Notch State Park, Franconia - The multi-use "Franconia Recreational Path" provides easy terrain for nordic skiing or snowshoeing. The Flume Gorge trails are also perfect for nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Flume Gorge Trail Map   Franconia Notch Hiking Map 

Coleman State Park and Coleman Lodges, Coleman State Park and lodges lie on the shore of Little Diamond Pond in Stewartstown, twelve miles east of Colebrook in New Hampshire's North Country. The Lodges at Coleman State Park is an excellent base for snowmobiling, OHRV riding, fall hunting, hiking and snowshoeing. Snowshoe rentals are available in the park office/ store.

Crawford Notch State Park, Hart's Location - The short trails up to Arethusa Falls (1.4 mi) or Ripley Falls (.5 mi) are great for begginer and intermediate snowshoers. Other trails in Crawford are available for more technical climbing too. Also, there are several good places for Nordic ski trips in the Notch and surrounding area. Crawford Notch Trail Map  

Greenfield State ParkGreenfield - Good beginner trails, use the campground roads and glide through the quiet pines the campers enjoy in the other seasons. 

Milan Hill State ParkMilan - The Nansen Ski Club (America's oldest ski club) operates a network of groomed trails for skiing and snowshoeing, for users of all ages and all abilities. There are 5.3 miles of premier nordic and snowshoeing trails at the park. The trails are open to the public, free of charge. 

Monadnock State ParkJaffrey - Located off NH Route 124 on Mount Monadnock. Approximately 12 miles of trail on the lower slopes offer a variety of intermediate terrain, which is ungroomed and rocky so requires 16" of natural snow. Call 532-8862 for current conditions. The Park Store is open weekends and holidays (except Christmas), 8am -5pm and offers basic supplies and hot drinks. No pets. Monadnock Nordic Ski Trails Map  

Odiorne Point State ParkRye - A popular seaside park, the trails wind throughout, providing easy terrain. Odiorne State Park Trail Map  

Pawtuckaway State ParkNottingham - Enjoy a variety of terrain and the opportunity of observing winter wildlife near Burnham's Marsh. Heavily used by snowmobiles. 
Pawtuckaway Trail Map    |  Pawtuckaway Trail Information    |  Pawtuckaway Campground Map  
Pillsbury State ParkWashington - The relatively undisturbed park has nearly 8,200 wooded acres with intermediate to advanced trails to nearby mountains and frozen ponds. Winter wildlife, including moose and otter, may be spotted. Pillsbury Trail Map

Recommended State Forests for Cross Country Skiing:

Annett State Forest, Rindge - Enjoy trails and roads laid out by the CCC in the Great Depression. There are also a few ponds and marshes to check out. These trails connect to a local inn's cross-country ski trail network

Cardigan State Forest, Orange - Lots of variable terrain on both east and west side of the mountain. Trails on the east side maintained by AMC.

Fox State Forest, Hillsborough - Many miles of varied terrain. A few high points with good views and a few low points with interesting wetlands. Make it a full day event by enjoying one of the programs at the Baldwin Center located at the forest.

Gile State Forest, Springfield - Lots of woods roads meander through this property, along with a few graveled roads. Some of the trails are maintained and groomed by the local snowmobile club.

Hemenway State Forest, Tamworth - A network of trails meander around this property, many of which are maintained for winter use by the Tamworth Outing Club. Views into Maine from the fire tower on the summit of Great Hill.

Pine River State Forest, Effingham - Lots of paths, trails and roads to explore over relatively easy terrain. Pine and oak forest with many types of wetland interspersed provide lots of wildlife viewing opportunities.


Recommended Equipment List for Cross Country Skiing Trips:

  • Map of the area you plan to ski
  • Compass
  • Water
  • High-energy food such as power bars or candy bars
  • Waterproof matches
  • Candle/fire starter
  • Small flashlight with extra bulb/batteries
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • First aid kit
  • Lightweight plastic tarp or emergency blanket
  • Nylon cord
  • Wax kit (if using waxable skis)
  • Gloves, hat, gaiters, and extra clothing
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm

Optional equipment:

  • Camera and film / fresh batteries
  • Binoculars

Safety Tips

  • Bring the equipment noted on the checklist (see above).
  • Do not ski alone.
  • Avoid avalanche areas.
  • Tell someone where you plan to go and when you expect to return.
  • Undertake pre-season conditioning and training.
  • Warm up and stretch before the day's skiing.
  • Novice skiers should undertake ski instruction, which emphasizes proper functioning of equipment and teaches proper falling techniques.
  • Stay tuned to local weather forecasts and establish the snow conditions. Take them into consideration, along with your skill level, before skiing. Plan your trip according to the weakest skier's ability.
  • Seek professional advice when choosing equipment to suit your cross country skiing activity, skill level and size.
  • Keep equipment in good working order.
  • Waxing of skis, tread pattern on non-waxing skis, snow conditions and tracks are important factors in reducing injury associated with slipping or falling.
  • Wear suitable clothing, including hat and gloves, to protect against variable weather conditions. Wear pile, wool or polypropylene clothing to keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Avoid cotton/cotton blends.
  • Eyewear that gives ultra-violet protection and a sunscreen with a high SPF should be worn, even on cloudy days.
  • Keep an eye out for hazards such as deep tracks, ruts, iciness and sharp bends.
  • Adequate rest, nutrition and energy replenishment will both enhance performance and reduce the likelihood of injury.
  • Alcohol can negatively affect your skiing performance and can be a contributing factor to hypothermia.
  • Skiers should always move to the right of the trail when encountering snowmobiles, sled dog teams, and other faster moving recreationalists that share multiple-use trails.
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