Ideal Conditions for Cross Country Skiing

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Now you ski it, now you don’t. That’s the saga of cross-country skiing in the Chicago area. Arguably one of the best ways to attain fitness with the least impact, cross-country skiing in Chicagoland is definitely ON, and if you want to try it, get out while the snow is plentiful and the conditions are good to excellent.

For veteran and occasional cross-country skiers, many local trails have been groomed for the two cross-country techniques, freestyle (skating) and classic (skiing in the parallel tracks), Here is a list of places that at least have some grooming. This list does not claim to be complete!
– Arrowhead Golf Club, Wheaton — Groomed exclusively for skiing by the Wheaton Park District, nice wide skate lanes, rental equipment available.
– Wilmette Golf Club, Wilmette — New this year, grooming exclusively for skiing by the Wilmette Park District
– Woodruff Golf Course, Joliet —  Groomed by the Joliet Nordic Ski Club in cooperation with the Joliet Park District. Some rentals available.
– Camp Sagawau, 111th and Route 83, — Groomed by the Cook County Forest Preserve District, rental equipment available.

– DuPage County Forest Preservesd — Waterfall Glen, Fullersburg, Blackwell, Herrick Lake, Green Valley and others are groomed by forest preserve personnel for skiing but also are used by walkers and runners.
Farther away in the Rockford area, there is good skiing at Alden and Sinnissippi Golf Courses and Rock Cut State Park.
Much excellent skiing abounds in southern Wisconsin. See www.skinnyski.com for detailed reports. Many other local parks and trails can be skied on, just without any grooming.

As for clothing, cross-country skiing is very much like running. Dress in layers and don’t overdress! Carry some water if you can, similar to marathon training. Your hands can get cold. Use heating pads. They are quite effective.

If you are new to the sport, try to have decent equipment and get a lesson if you can. Wheaton Park district is offering lessons this Saturday at 8:30 and 10:30, but classes will fill very shortly. Cost is $10 and includes equipment. For information, go to the Wheaton Park District web site.

Cross-country skiing is not something you can do “next weekend” in the Chicago area. The snow comes and goes. If you see it, ski it!


See you on the trails.

Bob Richards

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