Making tracks up, down, over, and around the Twin Cities
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Lebanon Hills Regional Park
A sprawling park of woods, wetlands, and lakes, 2,000-acre Lebanon Hills is the largest park in the Dakota County system. More than 14 miles of trails for both classic and skate skiing wind around, up, and down lakes, ponds, and hills. Most trails are easy, although one loop has some tough slopes. Equipment is available for rent at the visitor’s center. A Dakota County cross-country ski pass is required for skiers 18 years of age or older ($5 a day; $20 for the season).
Address: 860 Cliff Rd., Eagan
Carver Park Reserve
One of the best-kept secrets in the Twin Cities, Three Rivers Park District’s Carver Park lets you get away from the crowds, even on weekends. Its 12 miles of trail, groomed for both classic and skate skiing, dart through open prairie and oak and pine forest, and past lakes and marshes. Loops range in difficulty from beginner to advanced, with a few tough hills thrown in for good measure. Skiers ages 12 and older will need a Three Rivers cross-country ski pass ($4 a day; $50 for the season).
Address: 7025 Victoria Dr., Victoria
Theodore Wirth Winter Recreation Area
This Minneapolis park is a surprising 700-acre oasis of secluded forest in the middle of the city. One moment you feel you’re in wilderness, the next you see a stunning view of the Minneapolis skyline. Wirth offers 15 miles of trails groomed for both classic and skate skiing. The park’s snow-making capabilities means you can ski even when snow is lacking. After a day on the trails, unwind and refuel with soup and sandwiches at the chalet. Skiers ages 13 and older will need a Minneapolis Park and Recreation ski trail pass ($8 a day; $45 a year per family).
Address: 1301 Theodore Wirth Pkwy., Mpls.