Best Cross Country Skiing in Pennsylvania’s State Parks
Nov 17, 2017 02:24AM ● Published by Melanie Heisinger
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Best Cross Country Skiing
The Denton Hill Cross-country Ski Trail at Susquehannock State Forest is a system of interconnecting loops totaling 29 miles, which includes portions of the Susquehannock and Billy Lewis trails. The trail system utilizes old logging roads with gentle curves and hills. Denton Hill, located on the Allegheny Plateau at over 2400 feet, lies at the eastern edge of the lake effect snow belt. Typical snowfall, providing over 60 days of skiing, coupled with periodic grooming, make this one of the best areas to cross-country ski in the region.
Caledonia State Park - The 1125-acre Caledonia State Park is in Adams and Franklin counties, midway between Chambersburg and Gettysburg along the Lincoln Highway, US 30. There are about 10 miles of trails for skiing, however snowfall can be sporadic. The park is nestled within South Mountain, the northern terminus of the well-known Blue Ridge Mountain of Maryland and Virginia. Within South Mountain there are four state parks and 84,000 acres of state forest land waiting to be explored and enjoyed.
R.B. Winter State Park covers 695 acres of the Ridge and Valley Province in Central Pennsylvania. Located within Bald Eagle State Forest, the park lies in a shallow basin surrounded by rocky ridges covered with an oak and pine forest. Some easy trails and connecting routes to more difficult trails. Rapid Run Trail is popular. The focal point of the park is Halfway Lake which is filled by spring-fed mountain streams and contained by a hand-laid, native sandstone dam. Open year-round, the park provides diverse opportunities for recreation.
Gifford Pinchot State Park, a 2,338-acre full service park, is in northern York County along PA 177 between the towns of Rossville and Lewisberry. The park consists of reverting farm fields and wooded hillsides with the 340-acre Pinchot Lake serving as a prime attraction. When adequate snow cover is available many of the hiking trails provide an excellent opportunity for cross-country skiing. The best trails are accessed from the Conewago Day Use Area or the special parking area at the campground entrance. These trails include portions of Lakeside, Alpine, Oak and Gravel trails. Other good trails include the network of spur roads and trails in the interior of the park campground, which are closed to camping and vehicle use during the winter season.
French Creek State Park - Once an industrial complex (Hopewell Furnace showcases an early American industrial landscape from natural resource extraction to enlightened conservation. Operating from 1771-1883, Hopewell and other "iron plantations" laid the foundation for the transformation of the United States into an industrial giant.) for the fledgling U.S., today French Creek State Park is an oasis for people and wildlife. Straddling the Schuylkill Highlands, the 7,730-acre park is the largest block of contiguous forest between Washington D.C. and New York City. The forests, lakes, wetlands and fields are a recreation destination for the people of southeast Pennsylvania. Those same habitats are homes to many animals and plants that are rare in this corner of the Commonwealth. French Creek State Park is an Important Bird Area as designated by the National Audubon Society and also includes Pine Swamp—a State Park Natural Area. All hiking trails and open areas of the park can be skied with proper snow cover.
Nescopeck State Park - Bordered on the south by steep Mount Yeager and on the north by Nescopeck Mountain, the 3550-acre Nescopeck State Park encompasses wetlands, rich forests and many diverse habitats. Nescopeck Creek meanders through the park. Hiking trails follow the creek, pass through quiet forests and skirt wetlands. There are 19 miles of trails to explore on cross country skis.
Prince Gallitzin State Park – The forested hills of the Allegheny Plateau cradle sprawling Glendale Lake. Vistas offer scenic views of the 1635-acre lake with its 26 miles of shoreline. Seven miles of marked trails are available for cross country skiing.
More information is at DCNR.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark.