Nordic skiing (aka cross-country skiing) is an act of winter meditation. Unlike other, more adrenaline-centered sports, Nordic is all about settling into a glide, finding your rhythm, and experiencing the quietude of winter on your own terms.
But that’s not the only reason Nordic skiing has experienced a bit of a comeback over the past few years. It’s also easy to learn, great exercise, and less gear-intensive than other winter sports. If you live in southern Oregon, there’s even more good news: Thanks to plentiful snowfall and vast stretches of rolling terrain, this region is one of the best in the country to learn how to Nordic ski.
Here are six of the area’s most-favored trails to help you get started.
Buck Prairie Winter Trails
Buck Prairie Sno-Park is the starting line for some of the most adventurous Nordic ski routes in the Medford area. Case in point: the Table Mountain Trail. Usually at least partially groomed, this 10.6-mile out-and-back takes you to the northernmost tip of Hyatt Reservoir and tackles about 1,500 feet of total gain. If you’re looking for a less-committing route, try the classic Natasha’s Web Trail, a groomed 4.4-mile lollipop loop that traces mellower terrain through a meadow south of the parking lot.
Maps and more info: blm.gov
Crater Lake National Park
Every winter, Crater Lake National Park closes to vehicle traffic—leaving its 33-mile Rim Road open to cross-country skiers. You can camp along the way and do the whole loop in two or three days (backcountry permit required), or just do a section. At 11.4 miles, the ski route south from Rim Village to Vidae Falls makes a particularly good day-trip. Or, if you have less time, head north from Rim Village to Discovery Point, an easier 2.3-mile option.
Word to the wise: While snowmobile traffic and other users sometimes leave the Rim Road packed down, it isn’t officially groomed. Be prepared to break trail if you visit after a snowstorm.
Maps and more info: nps.gov