About Minnesota

Cross Country Skiing Basics

Cross Country Skiing on Minnesota's
Cross Country Ski Trails

Incredible hotel deals to book now at Expedia.com!

Learning cross country skiing basics will get any cross country skiing beginner out on the trails with confidence. Enjoy the fun of Minnesota cross country skiing. Cross country skiing is a wonderful way to stay in shape and it is a winter activity that you can do for your whole life.

Most family vacation destinations in Minnesota include beautiful family vacation resorts, cabins, and dozens of state parks and many other top family vacations spots.

Cross Country Skiing Basics

Some national statistics show that participation in cross-country skiing has declined in recent years, however it remains very popular in Minnesota. 

The appeal of cross country skiing is that, once you're proficient, you can go anywhere, at your own pace. 

Cross-country skiing can be a slow, gentle and reflective way of experiencing the outdoors in winter. It can also be an adrenaline-pumping and competitive sport.

Cross-country skiing can be enjoyed in a wide variety of forms. It may be called "Nordic skiing," "ski touring," "track skiing," "skate skiing," "backcountry skiing," or "telemarking." 

Cross-Country Skiing: Building Skills for Fun and Fitness

Some of the Best Places
to Cross-Country Ski in Minnesota

Minnesota has some of the most extensive networks of cross-country ski trails in the U.S. Here are some of our favorite cross-country skiing destinations:

To really enjoy cross-country skiing and its fitness benefits, it is important to learn some cross country skiing basics such as:

  • How to move at a reasonable speed while feeling comfortable on a variety of terrains.
  • Some downhill techniques to avoid being confined to flat trails.

Various Cross-Country Skiing
Basic Techniques

  • Classic: Most basic technique and the one that most people learn first. Classic cross-country skiing is most frequently done on groomed trails in tracks created by a trail grooming machine. Classic skis are narrower than downhill skis and the boots are soft.
  • Skate skiing: An athletic and aerobic speed technique that uses shorter skis and longer poles. Skate skiing is usually done on groomed trails but outside of the tracks.
  • Telemark: Originally a turning technique, telemark is used for both backcountry touring and on downhill slopes. Equipment includes harder boots and more side-cut skis for turning.

More Cross Country Skiing Basics

The basic technique or rhythm of classic cross country skiing is kick, stride and glide. The kick puts pressure on the center of the ski so it makes firm contact with the snow. The kick is accomplished while keeping your hip, and thus your weight, forward over the ski. 

The next movement is to stride with the other ski. This is done by shifting the opposite hip forward and launching into a glide. The tracks that are set into a groomed trail help to stabilize a skiier and allow you to concentrate on perfecting your diagonal stride.

Learning cross country skiing basics does take some time. If you are in reasonably fit condition, you should be able to become proficient in about 10 days by spending some time each day to focus on one aspect of skiing: the stride, poling, snowplowing, and step-turns.

Great Cross-Country Ski Trails: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Ontario

Minnesota's public cross-country ski trails.

More Winter Sports Links:

Minnesota Ski Resorts

Snow Sledding in Minnesota

Extreme Sledding

Dogsledding Tours in Minnesota

Christmas in Minnesota

Back to Minnesota Winter

We do not accept guest posts. You are welcome to comment on the topics on any page. Please keep your comments topic relative. Ads and photos on our site are purchased from out graphics affiliates. Thank you.
Joy Creating

Plan Your Minnesota Vacation

Lake Superior Maps

Boundary Waters Maps

Made in Minnesota


Minnesota Visitor Site Map

About Me


Minnesota Visitor Home Page


For personalized travel information call 888-VISITMN (847-4866)

Minnesota Department of Natural resources 888-646-6367

Minnesota Historical Society 888-777-8386

Judith Ramsey - Publisher Copyright © 2005 ~ 2019 All Rights Reserved

Amazon Associates Disclosure
 - We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Photos are provided by our affiliations with Amazon, Trip Advisor, Unsplash, Expedia, and by our content providers.

Minnesota State Parks: From Afton to Zippel Bay