Rent cross country skis and hit the groomed paths of Winding Trails. Photo courtesy of Winding Trails
Rent cross country skis and hit the groomed paths of Winding Trails. Photo courtesy of Winding Trails

Best Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing Spots in Connecticut

Not all snow sports come with an adrenaline rush. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are two fun, yet low-key winter activities that are easy for Connecticut kids to learn, offer the opportunity to experience beautiful surroundings, and make for a tranquil family outing or a fun, socially-distanced adventure with friends. There are several parks, trails, and winter sports centers in Connecticut where families can safely snowshoe or cross country ski, and some even rent out gear and offer lessons.

For more cold-weather thrills and chills, check out our favorite Connecticut snow tubing parks and family ski areas

Many ski and sports gear outfitters offer cross country skis and snowshoes. Snowshoes are less expensive than skis and kids are apt to use them more often, as snowshoeing can happen on just about any terrain with snow cover. To invest in a pair, check out Amazon's options, including Yukon's Sno-Bash kids snowshoes and Sawtooth snowshoes for men and women.

When kids tire of skiing, they can snowshoe or skate at Winding Trails. Photo courtesy of Winding Trails

Winding Trails - Farmington

Winding Trails welcomes families to participate in all types of outdoor winter fun, including cross country skiing or snowshoeing on its groomed trails, sledding or tubing down its hilly areas, and ice skating on the pond on the property. Weather-dependent, the trails here are open after a generous snow fall. Reservations are required. Rent skis, snowshoes, snow tubes, ice skates, or even pull sleds to tow little ones along more easily on your adventures.

White Memorial Conservation Center - Litchfield 

The largest nature preserve in the state is also one of the most peaceful and beautiful stretches of land. Skiers and snowshoers are welcome on more than 40 miles of trails (some quite wide and accommodating) and open meadows, though there are no designated areas. There are no rentals, so bring your own equipment; Ski Haus at Mohawk Mountain and New Milford are both rental spots less than a half-hour from the park.

Waveny Park - New Canaan

Enjoy three miles of marked trails through woods and fields, great for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing through pristine nature. You'll want to return in warmer weather to explore the beautiful gardens and grounds. Ski and Sport in New Canaan offers rentals.

There's lots of open space to stretch out your snowshoeing legs at Randall's Farm. Photo courtesy of the Aspetuck Land Trust

Randall's Farm Preserve - Easton

Flat and spacious, Randall's Farm Preserve in Easton is a destination for many snowshoeing families. The open meadows bracketed with trees are good for spotting winter birds while you trek along.

Bigelow Hollow State Park / Nipmuck State Forest - Union

Enjoy "one of the largest unbroken forest areas" (about 9,000 acres to be exact) in Eastern Connecticut, where the trails welcome cross-country skiers. For those desiring trails that start and end in the same place, the trails west of the park road both form loops and cover less distance than the trails leading to Breakneck (the loop around the pond is 6 miles).  There are no rentals; New England Ski and Scuba is about a half-hour to the southwest.

Gay City State Park - Hebron

The park features more than 10 miles of trails, but they are not groomed for cross-country skiing. The open fields, however, are great places for children or beginner skiers and those interested in snowshoeing. Winter parking is available off Route 85. Bring your own gear: Hartford's Alpine Haus for rentals is 22 minutes to the east.

Sleeping Giant State Park - Hamden

The park maintains a cross-country ski trail on the lower, north side of the park; bring your own skis or snowshoes to explore. 

Pratt Nature Center - New Milford

This family-friendly wildlife preserve and education center is a wonderful place for hiking and sledding, but also cross-country skiing and snowshoeing through its meadows and woods. Mohawk Mountain's rental center is close by.

James L. Goodwin State Forest - Hampton

Some 14 miles of well-maintained trails (including signage), offer recreational opportunities year-round, including cross-country skiing.

Chatfield Hollow State Park - Killingworth

The yellow trail here is only half a mile, a perfect distance for tiny skiers or beginners. The longest trail is 2.5 miles. Choose any of them except the blue one, which is only for walkers/joggers.

Quinnipiac River Linear Trail - Wallingford 

Predominantly paved, the wide trail is ideal for children and beginners by providing ample space to navigate. Bonus: the beautiful trees that line the property, including one of Connecticut's largest red oaks.

Northwest Park and Nature Preserve - Windsor

Venture along 12 miles of trails across nearly 500 acres of pristine land. The park is open from dawn until dusk, leaving you plenty of time for cross-country skiing or floating on freshly fallen snow with your snowshoes. They offer rental skis and snowshoes out of the warming shed.

Stratton Brook State Park - Simsbury 

The main trail cutting through the park is about 1 mile each way; perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing side by side with your little ones while enjoying a majestic pine-lined path. 

Winding Trails
50 Winding Trails
Farmington, 06032

White Memorial Conservation Center
80 Whitehall Rd
Litchfield, CT 06759

Waveny Park
Rte 124/South Avenue
New Canaan, CT 06840

Bigelow Hollow State Park
298 Bigelow Hollow Rd
Union, CT 06076

Gay City State Park
Route 85
Hebron, 06248

Sleeping Giant State
200 Mount Carmel Avenue
Hamden, CT 06518

Pratt Nature Center
163 Papermill Road
New Milford, CT

James L. Goodwin State Forest
23 Potter Road
Hampton, CT 06247

Chatfield Hollow State Park
381 Route 80
Killingworth, CT

Quinnipiac River Linear Trail of Wallingford
Community Lake Park
Wallingford, CT

Northwest Park Nature Center
145 Lang Road
Windsor, CT 06095

Stratton Brook State Park
149 Farms Village Rd.

Randall Farm Preserve
Randall Farm Drive
Easton, CT 02356
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