Cross Country Ski Headquarters (XC Ski HQ) was rated as the number two Cross Country Ski Destination in North America by USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Awards in 2018.
Established in 1974, it has been long recognized as the Midwest’s best place to buy or rent cross country skis, take lessons, or just to explore their 11+ miles of groomed trails.
Groomed Cross Country Ski Trails
XC HQ’s trails are immaculately groomed for both classic and skate skiing. Typically, the trails are groomed each morning and as needed during the day. Fresh corduroy and neatly set classic tracks are a joy to ski on.
The trails are located on state land that XC HQ leases for the winter. Your trail pass helps pay for the lease as well as for the grooming of the trails. No pedestrian use is allowed except for snowshoeing on dedicated snowshoe trails.
The trails are mostly flat. The Manitou trail has a couple of small hills and the Rolling Hills trail is aptly named but still considered moderate. Near the lodge is the Blizzard trail which, at a half-mile long, serves well for warming up, demoing new skis, and is where lessons are typically held.
If you have never skied before or want an expert to help fine tune your technique, you are in good hands. Group and individual lessons are available for both classic and skate. They even offer a free beginner group ski lesson each Saturday. Lesson reservations are recommended but not required.
You can rent skis for any level of experience. Classic and skate skis along with boots and poles can be rented by the hour, day, or the weekend. This is a great way to try out new gear at minimal cost.
The lodge has everything to make your visit comfortable and convenient. The large parking lot is a short walk to the snow and to the lodge and retail store.
A large deck with fire-pits, heaters, and an igloo provides a gathering point and cozy place to eat lunch or enjoy a beer after skiing. The Stone Turtle Day Lodge & Café serves a variety of meal options and beverages. The menu changes daily.
Of course there are restrooms that are roomy enough to change clothes. There’s even a wax bench if you need it.
If you want a snack or a cup of hot chocolate while skiing the trails, Trapper's Cabin is located near the juncture of most of the trails. You'll also find a fire, picnic tables, and racks for your skis and poles.
XC HQ hosts many events including free lessons, coaching clinics, waxing clinics, and races. Additionally, they have weekend food specials and themes, live music, and torch-lit night skiing. Check their Calendar of Events for the latest details.
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