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HomeCross Country Skiing


About XC Skiing


FVBSC has provided cross-country ski events for a number of years as it is a great crossover activity for cyclists. The sport of “skinny skis”—aka cross-country skiing—is growing in popularity. It’s easy to learn, your gear needs are modest, as are trail fees, and you can be up and scooting across a pristine winter landscape in no time.

While it is possible to go out and get the hang of the basic movement on your own, you’ll learn faster and progress more quickly if someone teaches you.  Jack Brandli and Jeanne Bereza with FVBSC will be leading some XC Events, as well as providing instruction for beginners.  Watch the EVENT CALENDAR for these outings.  You will learn the balanced stance, how to shift weight properly, and how to coordinate arm and leg movements.  After that, practice!

FVBSC also partners with the Nordic Fox Ski Club ( 

What are the different types of cross-country skiing?

  • Classic cross-country (skis move straight) and skate skiing (skis move laterally like ice skates) are your main choices. Most beginners start out by learning classic skiing.
  • Classic skiing: The original version of the sport, this involves a straight-line stride. The stride itself is called either a “diagonal stride” or “kick and glide.” Someone who talks about “going cross-country skiing” usually means they are going classic cross-country skiing.
  • Skate skiing: A few decades old now, this technique’s ski movements look like a speed skater on ice. Not surprisingly, skate skiers move faster than classic cross-country skiers.  (Jack Brandi specializes in skate skiing.)


What gear do you need for cross-country skiing?

  • Bring cross-country skis, boots and poles.  You can purchase cross-country skis at gear outfitters (such as REI) or rent (Arrowhead Golf, Morton Arboretum, REI).  You can also purchase used gear and other retailers.
  • Skis: The correct ski length depends on your weight, info that should be listed in ski size charts.
  • Boots and bindings: Your main concerns as a new cross-country skier are that you have a compatible boot/binding system (NNN is a common one) and that you’re familiar with how your system works. Boots, regardless of system, should be comfortable and flexible.
  • Poles: With tips in the snow, the top of correctly sized poles is about even with your armpits. You can use trekking poles with snow baskets in a pinch, though cross-country ski poles work better.


What do you wear for cross-country skiing?

  • Layer up: As with any outdoor activity, you should dress in layers, keeping in mind that you will generate warmth as you move. You need apparel that moves freely and can handle sweat (synthetics and wool, not cotton). Make sure you also have layers that work well for cold, snowy and windy conditions.
  • Repurpose other clothing: No need to buy special Nordic apparel when you’re first getting started, because your layers for other outdoor activities, like hiking, can do the job.
  • Bring a hat and gloves: Having numbness in your ears or fingers is no fun.
  • Be vigilant about staying warm, avoid overheating and make sure you’re skiing in a safe location. Don’t wait to adjust layers if you’re getting cold, especially in your extremities. Also adjust layers if you’re sweating a lot because excess moisture can chill you. It’s wise to bring hand warmers, foot warmers and a vacuum bottle filled with a warm beverage.

What’s proper etiquette on cross-country ski trails?

  • Developed trail systems usually list rules on trail maps or signs, or both.
  • Start on green trails: Most cross-country ski trail systems follow standard rating designations: green for beginner, blue for intermediate and black for expert. Avoid blue or black trails at first, because you’ll be more likely to fall on them, which isn’t a great outcome for you, nor for the faster, more experienced skiers who use those trails and who will have to ski around you.
  • Yield the right of way: Go the correct direction on any trail marked as a one-way route. On two-way trails, uphill skiers yield to downhill skiers (who have less control). If you’re slow, keep an eye out for faster skiers overtaking you and move to the side if that simplifies their skiing past. If you’re fast, alert slower skiers as you approach and, if possible, try to ski around so they don’t have to move aside.
  • Preserve the tracks: Don’t tromp on or across the ski tracks. If you have to walk (or snowshoe), do so on the far outside edge of the trail.  If you fall, take a moment to fill in your divot before you move on.



If you learn the balanced stance, how to shift weight properly, and how to coordinate arm and leg movements, you’ll have the fundamentals to get started.


The Balanced Stance

  • Get into a Basic Athletic Body Position.  Stand with feet at shoulder width. Bend slightly at the hips, knees and ankles; hands should be held comfortably out in front of you.  Shift weight to one foot, keeping your head, hip, knees and toes aligned above that foot. Shift your weight atop the other foot, maintaining the same body alignment. Practice going back and forth like this until you feel steady on each leg.

Moving with Skis On

  • Do the Cross-Country Shuffle … Get into the ski tracks. Begin a slow shuffle down the tracks (like a slow walk).  After two shuffles, shift and center your weight on the front ski, gliding for a short distance. Continue ahead, using a shuffle, shuffle, glide cadence. This is the basic kick-and-glide motion of cross-country skiing.
  • Poles add some zip to your stride and makes the sport a total body workout. Starting out in your balanced stance, hold your hands, with poles dangling straight down, at shoulder width out in front of you. The tops of your hands should be roughly level with your mouth, and your elbows should be bent at about 90 degrees. Lift your poles back up to the original position and repeat. This is the basic poling motion of cross-country skiing.
  • Poles are not for braking: Never stick your poles out ahead of you to slow down because that can cause injury or break your poles. To slow down when skiing on flat terrain (where you should start out as a beginner), simply coast to a stop.
  • Fall softly: Even expert skiers take the occasional tumble. If possible, though, avoid sticking out your poles or wrists when you fall because that increases the chances of injury or damage to gear. Rolling sideways is generally a good tactic, though that assumes you have enough control to do so, and that you don’t roll into a tree or other hazard.

Snowsport safety is your responsibility. Be sure to use proper technique and take steps to minimize risk whenever you go. 


Please follow COVID guidelines, and it is advisable to confirm that restrooms and parking lots will be open (or suggest nearby alternatives.) Remember that indoor facilities for changing boots/clothes, water fountains, nature or education centers may be closed, and getting food/beverages may be limited to drive-up/carry out or possibly from a gas station.


Please always carry an ID and you should have an emergency contact.


DuPage Forest Preserves

For trail updates for DuPage forest preserves, visit OR CALL M-F 8-4 at 630-933-7200 at DuPage Forest Preserve hdqrs.

Preserves are open -- social distancing required! Masks required if unable to social distance. Preserves open 1 hour after sunrise until 1 hour after sunset. For more info on what's open/closed due to COVID-19 please visit

For maps/descriptions of the forest preserves, visit

Recommended for cross country skiing: Herrick, Blackwell, Danada (all Wheaton area), Greene Valley (Naperville), Waterfall Glen (Darien)--all get high priority for grooming.

Note--Herrick and Arrowhead are next to each other with a little connector path. Herrick has a heated restroom bldg with electric hand dryers. (For Herrick, use the north entrance off Butterfield Rd, take left fork into parking lot. Restroom bldg is adjacent to pkg/boathouse area.) –describes available activities, rental info (tubes, snowshoes) and priority for grooming trails. Rangers groom 80 miles of trails. (Clearing parking lots comes first!!) Snowshoe rentals and tube rentals are available at Blackwell Forest Preserve (for on-site use.) Snowshoe rentals also at district hdqrs & at Fullersburg Woods

Arrowhead Golf

26W151 Butterfield Rd, Wheaton IL 60189  (No lessons, no trail fee)

6” base required, groomed for classic and skate skiing, snowshoeing not allowed on golf course!

Open 9am-dusk M-Fri, 8am-dusk Sat/Sun

(click “Current Status”-it goes to the rainout line which gives trail conditions and date/time of update)

The usual Arrowhead ski shop 630-653-5800 x4 phone is just a recording this season, you cannot leave a message.

Arrowhead Golf -Ski Rentals: Ski Shop is located at the back of the building. Rates are 2hrs: adults $25, kids $15. Security deposit: credit card, license, student ID or car keys (classic no wax skis, a few skate skis).


Ski rental is available in the pro shop. Please call 630-510-5075 between 9AM and 5PM for ski conditions and reservations. (or you can click current conditions on Arrowhead website for latest update)

Those with their own equipment may bypass the pro shop and head directly to the trails when the green flag is flying.

Restrooms are open, but please limit time in building; recommended to put your ski boots on in your car.

Restaurant (upstairs)--open 12-7 daily Call to confirm!

For map, click the top of the page for Hours and Location OR see

Bartlett Nature Center/James Pate Phillip State Park

2054 W Stearns Rd, Bartlett, 847-608-3100 x2

4 miles limestone trails on prairie. Good for snowshoeing, and beginner xc ski (no trees!). Nature center open M-F 9-4, closed Sat/Sun, pkg lot/trails open 1hr after dawn to dusk with heated restroom bldg. Call to confirm that buildings are open!

Bartlett Nature Center snowshoes rentals available for on-site use (adult size alum frame, kids size plastic).

Kane County Forest Preserves for maps/descriptions

No grooming! Best skiing at LeRoy Oakes (St Charles) or Burnidge (Elgin). Creekbend Nature Center

(at Le Roy Oakes) open 10-4 M-Th, noon-4 Sa/Su, closed Fri., indoor restrooms and water fountain.

Call to confirm bldg open.

Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are allowed at all Kane County forest preserves, however, the activities are not permitted in areas closed due to restoration work. Please stay on trails.

For winter activities brochure, click

Caution note-snowmobiling is allowed on Great Western Trail west of Burlington Rd.

Bowes Creek Country Club

1250 Bowes Creek Blvd, Elgin 60124

Golf course trails open/groomed (classic only) if 4” snow, check for flag at entrance green=go, red=no.

Call or check website to be sure trails are open

Must sign seasonal waiver at pro shop, trail map available. 847-214-5880 M-F 9-4

Morton Arboretum

Cross country skiing and snowshoeing allowed starting Jan 8, 2021 (after “Illumination” exhibit.)

Rentals Jan 8-Mar 12, 2021-call to confirm availability 630-968-0074. 

NOTE-see website for admission guidelines (must reserve timed entry due to COVID restrictions)


or click:

Cook County Forest Preserves

Not groomed except Sagawau

Deer Grove Forest Preserve--Barrington area, 15 miles trails

Sagawau Nordic (Sagawau Environmental Learning Center)- Lemont, 630-257-2045

lessons, rentals, nature center, 2.6 miles trails groomed for classic only (no skate skiing)

McHenry County Conservation District

selected preserves trails packed and groomed after 4” snow (see website for locations). Recommend:

Prairieview Education Center- Crystal Lake, 4 miles beginner/intermediate

Hickory Grove, Cary-4.5 mi, beginner

Glacial Park, Ringwood—4 mi beginner, 2 mi advanced

MCCD winter activities brochure

Seize the Day Events—Dec, Jan, Feb—MCCD staff will offer program/event with fresh snow—message invitation will be sent 24 hrs in advance—to get on the list-call 815-479-5779 OR


Candlelight Cross Country Ski/Hikes: Fri & Sat 5-9pm, campfire, groomed trail if 4” snow, hike if not enough snow to ski, BYO equip, FREE. Event may be cancelled if trails are icy or hazardous, wind chill below -20, or staff emergency. Check before you go: Site Advisories at

2021 dates: Dec 18 &19 Harrison Benwell, Wonder Lake, Jan 15 &16 Marengo Ridge, Marengo,

Feb 12 & 13-Prairieview, Crystal Lake