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Rewind and Unwind with Cross-Country Skiing at Allegheny National Forest
Skiing—with its lifts and snow groomers and glossy gear in all shades of neon—may seem to some an ultra-modern form of recreation. But cross-country skiing, a replica of the original form of skiing, is almost primeval, dating to Chinese and Scandinavian communities as least as early as 600 BCE. In a holiday season brimming with modern busyness and noise, consider tapping into something more fundamentally human, stepping (or, as it were, gliding) into the traditions and natural backdrop of our ancestors in over a hundred miles of cross-country skiing trails at the Allegeny National Forest.
The Allegheny National Forest encompasses over 513,000 acres of land and includes 87 miles of the Allegheny River, 200 miles of hiking trails, and 53 miles of cross-country skiing trails. For the beginner to cross-country skiing, the Allegheny National Forest offers several groomed trails, including Laurel Mill Cross Country Ski Trail and the Rimrock Overlook access road. Laurel Mill Cross, if traveling from Ridgeway, can be accessed off Halton-Spring Creek Road. For an ungroomed route offering 9.8 miles of trails, with loops designated for those of varying skill levels, try the Westline Cross-Country Ski Trail which if coming from the town of Bradford, can be accessed by going west on PA 59. All trails are identified with diamonds to indicate their difficulty and are available for hiking and, on some trails, snowshoeing and mountain biking as well. For those who want to enjoy the beauty of snow-laden nature but prefer to not view it on foot, Allegheny National Forest has over 300 miles of groomed trails for snowmobiles easily accessed in interconnecting loops.
If you plan on taking advantage of what the Allegheny National Forest has to offer this winter, be sure to consult the USDA Forest Service Website for pertinent weather updates before you travel. Also, be sure to adhere to the winter safety guidelines, including packing a winter safety kit in the event of any unforeseen events.