Western Pennsylvania offers much in the way of winter sports and recreation. For starters, it is home to many free or low cost, cross-country skiing spots. In my opinion, some of the region's best cross-country skiing spots are located within the state's parks. I like visiting the parks because they often offer free admission, additional sports opportunities and attract minimal crowds. With that said, here's a quick rundown on a few of the best ones:
Oil Creek State Park
If you ask me, Venango County's Oil Creek State Park is one of the best places to go cross-country skiing. It features 11 miles of cross-country skiing trails, a wonderful warming hut, restrooms and a picnic area. Seasoned skiers in search of a workout and stellar views should consider exploring the 5.8 mile long Red Trail. I'd also suggest stopping by Famoore's Family Restaurant on East First Street before hitting the trails. The staff serves a hearty breakfast and a great cup of joe. Park is admission is free. Families should bring their own skis and sundries.
Kooser State Park
Kooser State Park is located in Somerset County. The park features a 1.5 mile long cross-country skiing trail, year round cabin rentals, picnic areas and restrooms onsite. Families that need to rent skis or want to enjoy an additional 20 mile long trail should consider visiting the Laurel Ridge Cross-Country Ski Area. It is located nearby at the Laurel Ridge State Park. Skiing lessons are available too.
Presque Isle State Park
Erie County's Presque Isle State Park offers more than 10 miles of cross-country skiing trails. There is often a winter concession stand set-up on the weekends that rents cross-country skis and snowshoes for a modest fee. One great path on offer is the .5 mile long Fox Trail. It is traditionally groomed during the winter months. Other trails to consider are the 1.5 mile long Gull Point Trail and the .7 mile long North Pier Trail. Additional winter sports opportunities and programs are also available onsite. Charcoal grills, picnic tables and restrooms are on premise as well. Admission is gratis.
Ohiopyle State Park
Fayette County's Ohiopyle State Park features more than 30 miles of cross-country skiing trails, grills, picnic areas and restrooms. I'd suggest that skiers consider heading towards the Tharp Knob Picnic Area and exploring the 2.5 mile long Kentucky Trail. It offers great views of the Youghiogheny River. Admission is complimentary. Families should plan on bringing their own ski equipment and supplies.
Killeen Gonzalez enjoys winter sports and recreation with her family. She has also traveled extensively.
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