In North America, downhill skiing & snowboarding gets all the fame with the likes of Shaun White & Lindsey Vonn showcasing these sports. Cross-country skiing however, offers everyone a chance to revel in the peace & tranquility of the wintry landscape that is the Sierra Nevada. To help you enjoy this time-tested winter sport during your vacation, here’s a list — in no particular order — of some spots to try cross-country skiing in the High Sierra.

Bear Valley Area (Calaveras)

Bear Valley Cross Country Skiing In The High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: California Ski Industry Association

On the west slope of the Sierra Nevada in the land of the giant Sequoias lies a bastion of cross-country skiing – Bear Valley Cross Country & Adventure Company. With 35 trails covering 65 kilometers of track & laid out across 3,000 acres, it’s a perfect gateway to experience the best of this 4,000-year-old activity known as Nordic skiing. Besides their vast network, it’s also home to four trail-side huts, a trail-side lunch café and demo & retail center.

Want the low down on Bear Valley area cross country skiing gear, tips, and even more nearby epic locations? Check out item seven in Snow Play – 7 Different Ways to Enjoy the Snow in Calaveras’ High Sierra. You’ll be glad you did. 

Royal Gorge (North Lake Tahoe)

cross country skiers at Ryoal Gorge
Photo by: Chris Bartkowski – Image appears courtesy: Go Tahoe North

While Lake Tahoe may be synonymous for downhill skiing, its cross-country is just as world class. In fact, if you head to the north shore of Lake Tahoe, you’ll find the largest cross-country ski area in North America – Royal Gorge. At a monstrous 6,000 acres featuring 92 trails with over a 140km of it groomed, you’ll have more than enough to occupy yourself for however long your stay is.

Not enough? Peruse all the Nordic centers available to you in the Tahoe North region.

Camp Richardson (Tahoe South)

South Lake Tahoe Camp Richardson Cross Country Skiing Mt Tallac Winter
Photo by: Rachid Dahnoun – Image appears courtesy: Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Recently voted “Best Place to Cross Country Ski” by Tahoe locals, the Mountain Sports Center at Camp Richardson offers groomed and marked trails for beginner to expert alike right on the shores of Lake Tahoe. If the snowpack hasn’t reached two feet just yet, head up to Kirkwood Resort. At an elevation of 7,800’ above sea level, it’s a great option for early or late season. The trail pass includes a vast of network of trails with three warming huts including the Kirkwood Inn (est. 1864).  

Check here for a full list of where to cross-country ski in and around Lake Tahoe’s south shore.

Tahoe Donner (Truckee-Tahoe)

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center
Image appears courtesy: Visit Truckee-Tahoe

For those staying in the Truckee-Tahoe area, you’re fortunate enough to find a premiere cross-country center at the Tahoe Donner Ski Area. In addition to being a great place to learn downhill skiing and get in some snow play, the Nordic Center is voted annually as one of the top 10 Best Cross Country Ski Resort in North America by USA Today. Spanning more than 2,800 acres across the scenic Euer Valley, you’ll find over 100+ km of groomed-to-perfection trails.

Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center (Mammoth Lakes)

Mammoth Mountain Tamarack Cross Country Skiing In The High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Mammoth Mountain

Perched on the shore of Twin Lakes and steeped in rustic charm, historic Tamarack Lodge is Mammoth’s most secluded resort. It’s also home to the Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center. From here, you can kick & glide your way into experiencing miles of serenity and beauty of the Lakes Basin region. The groomed cross-country ski network links five lakes and offers views of the Mammoth Crest, Sherwin Ridge and Crystal Crag.  

Explore more and find out where to go cross country skiing in Mono County.

Badger Pass (Yosemite)

cross country skiing at Yosemite
Photo by: Kenny Karst – Image appears courtesy: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

Another High Sierra hub for cross country skiing to consider is Badger Pass. Located within the famed Yosemite National Park, this gateway provides access to the legendary Glacier Point. At a whopping 21-mile roundtrip trek, this is for very athletic individuals. For the more avid outdoorsy enthusiast, we recommend heading to Dewey Point. Providing still enough challenge at a seven mile round-trip, you’re rewarded with breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley nearly 3,000 feet below you.

Experience the unparalleled scenery, incomparable serenity and heaping amounts of fun for all skill levels with cross-country skiing. And of course, it’s all thanks to the varied terrain and unrivaled backdrop of the Sierra Nevada landscape.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex founded Local Freshies® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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