Cross-country trails and cross-country skiing: top destinations for cross-country skiers

13/02/2024 - SnowTrex

It is the quieter kind of winter sports. Instead of racing down the mountain slopes or jumping over kickers, cross-country skiers glide with flowing movements through beautiful winter landscapes. SnowTrex has put together 10 of the most popular cross-country regions where Nordic winter sports fans will find a wide variety of activities.

Cross-country skiers on a winter’s morning.

1. Engadin/St. Moritz (Switzerland)

More than 10,000 winter sports fans travel to Engadin every year to take part in the local ski marathon. They cover 42 km between Maloja and S-chanf on their narrow skis – cheered on by numerous spectators. However, the region is also considered a mecca for Nordic athletes outside the race. All in all, they will find around 200 kilometres of cross-country trails here. This also includes night trails – on one of them the runners can even switch off the lights themselves. The cross-country trails in the Roseg and Morteratsch valleys are particularly picturesque.

2. Olympiaregion Seefeld (Austria)

This is where the experts sit: the Olympiaregion Seefeld not only scores with a total of 279 kilometres of cross-country trails (124.7 km of which are for skating style), but also with the “Nordic Competence Centre”. Alongside one of the most modern biathlon facilities in Europe, there are also 2 ski jumps. In addition, cross-country skiers and biathletes can expect a 3.6 km long roller ski run in summer. Another special feature: there are several special cross-country ski runs – night cross-country ski runs, barrier-free cross-country ski runs for sledging and a dog cross-country ski run.

3. Ramsau am Dachstein (Austria)

Thanks to the high-altitude cross-country ski trail on the glacier, cross-country skiers will find good cross-country ski trail conditions in Ramsau as early as September. It is no coincidence that Ramsau hosted the Nordic World Ski Championships in 1999. There are around 220 km of cross-country ski runs – 70 of them for the classic style – here, awarded the Styrian Cross-Country Ski Run Quality Seal. In addition, there is even a fun park for cross-country skiers: in the “Nordic X-Park” in the World Championships cross-country stadium, small jumps, steep bends, slalom poles and wave tracks are tempting. The children’s running park also takes care of the little ones.

A boy has fun cross-country skiing.

4. Oberhof (Germany)

In Thuringia, cross-country skiers get their money’s worth all year round. Oberhof is home to Germany’s only cross-country skiing and biathlon hall, the DKB Skisport-Halle with 2 kilometres of cross-country ski trails. Oberhof is a DSV-classified Nordic Active Centre and venue for biathlon World Cup events. In total, cross-country skiers can choose between 110 kilometres of cross-country trails. The longest route is the 52 km long “Große Runde ‘R'”. Those who are even more persevering can choose the popular Rennsteig long-distance ski trail: on 142 km it connects the cross-country skiing areas of the Thuringian Forest.

5. Pillerseetal (Austria)

Every year in December, the biathlon elite meets in the Pillerseetal for the World Cup competition. No wonder, as the region is fully geared to Nordic athletes. Cross-country skiing accommodations, guest biathlon offers and biathlon courses, GPS-covered cross-country trails and a total of 150 cross-country trail kilometres – both for classic and skating styles – speak for themselves. The attractive location of the trails in the winter landscape around the Pillersee is another factor.

6. Tannheimer Valley (Austria)

The cross-country ski runs of the Tannheimer Valley stretch over 140 km. They have been awarded the Tyrolean Cross-Country Trail Quality Seal. If you like, you can even make a cross-border excursion from here: every year, the route to Bad Hindelang in the Allgäu region is also the venue for the cross-country marathon “Ski Trail Tannheimer Tal – Bad Hindelang”. The most attractive routes in the valley are the 12 km long route through the Visalpsee nature reserve and the cross-country trail on the frozen Haldensee.

7. Autrans (France)

Autrans is considered one of the most important centres of Nordic sport in France. During the 1968 Olympic Games in Grenoble, biathlon, cross-country skiing and ski jumping competitions took place here. Almost all cross-country ski runs can be reached from the “Centre Nordique”. The total distance is 130 km. There is also a connection to nearby Méandre, so that a cross-country skiing area with a total of 250 km of trails is available. The Ludipark is intended for beginners.

8. Val di Fiemme (Italy)

The Val di Fiemme is best known for the famous Marcialonga Fondo, one of the most important cross-country races, with a distance of 70 km, which runs from Moena to Cavalese every January. The Val di Fiemme, known as the “cradle of Italian cross-country skiing”, has hosted the Nordic World Ski Championships several times. The cross-country ski runs on the Lavazé Pass plateau (85 km) are particularly popular. A total of 150 kilometres of cross-country trails are available against the backdrop of the Dolomites. The centre of cross-country skiing is Lago di Tesoro with its World Cup stadium.

Winter landscape during cross-country skiing.

9. Kaiserwinkl (Austria)

Kössen, Walchsee and Schwendt, the resorts in Kaiserwinkl, together cover a total of 244 km of cross-country trails, 116 of which are prepared for the skating style. The region is one of Tyrol’s cross-country skiing specialists and has been awarded the Tyrolean Cross-Country Ski Trail Quality Seal. The longest and most demanding cross-country trail is the 25 km Kaiserwinklloipe. By the way, Reit im Winkl, one of the most beautiful cross-country skiing areas in Bavaria, is not far away. Here you will find another 150 km of cross-country trails.

10. Obertilliach (Austria)

An Olympic champion lives here: the Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen lives in Obertilliach. Obertilliach is also home to the East Tyrol Cross-Country Skiing and Biathlon Centre, where many national teams train both in winter and summer (on a 4.2 km long roller ski run). In the entire Lesachtal, in which Obertilliach lies, there is a cross-country ski trail network of around 100 km. At the cross-country skiing stadium there is a connection to the Grenzlandloipe, which connects the East Tyrolean valley with Carinthia over a distance of 60 km. Never been cross country skiing before, but you’re interested? The DSV gives tips for cross-country ski beginners.

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