Laona Heights Sugar River Colored Sands Sugar River Two Rivers Ferguson Hartley Memorial Trask Bridge Four Lakes Pecatonica River Pecatonica Wetlands Crooked River Grove Creek Seward Bluffs Klehm Forest Preserve Severson Dells Fuller Memorial Cedar Cliff Indian Hill Hinchliff Memorial Kilbuck Bluffs Trailside Kishwaukee Gorge South Kishwaukee Gorge North Rockford Rotary Kishwaukee River Oak Ridge Blackhawk Springs Deer Run Espenscheid Memorial McKiski County Line Kieselburg Roland Olson Stone Bridge Clayton Andrews Ledges Hononegah J. Norman Jensen Millrace Isle Macktown Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve Headquarters

Cross-Country Skiing

Many of the District’s preserves are ideal for cross-country skiing during the winter months. Kieselburg, Hononegah, Sugar River, Pecatonica River, Oak Ridge, and Deer Run are also popular. Trails beginning at Oak Ridge can be followed through Deer Run for a total of five miles of trail. Skiers should take snow conditions into consideration as forest preserve trails are not groomed.

Winter Recreation Brochure

Cross-country skiing is one of the best ways to enjoy the winter beauty in the forest preserves. Over fifty miles of trails offer pristine scenery and challenging terrain.

Skiers should take snow conditions into consideration, as District trails are not groomed.

Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve has 4 miles.
Hononegah Forest Preserve has 2.7 miles.
Kieselburg Forest Preserve has 2.9 miles.
Kishwaukee Gorge Forest Preserve has 3.1 miles.
Kishwaukee River Forest Preserve has 1.8 miles.
Espenscheid Memorial Forest Preserve has 1.6 miles.
Pecatonica River Forest Preserve has 9.8 miles in the lower portion.
Oak Ridge Forest Preserve has 5.3 miles and connects to Deer Run Forest Preserve if the river can be safely crossed.
Deer Run Forest Preserve has 9.4 miles.
Seward Bluffs Forest Preserve has 8 miles.
Sugar River Forest Preserve has 5.9 miles.
Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve has 4.9 miles.
Colored Sands Forest Preserve has 2.8 miles.
Dress in layers and avoid cotton and you’ll be set to experience the magical winter environment on cross-country skis.

Neither age nor gender matter; women outnumber men, and the majority of skiers are over the age of 30. All it takes is enthusiasm for enjoying the outdoors in winter, at your own speed, with your own choice of companions.

Cross-country skiing exercises muscle groups from your feet to your arms, and everything in between.

Most Popular Reasons Why People Ski

  • The whole family can participate together.
  • Practical fun way to enjoy the outdoors during the winter.
  • Joy of gliding over snow with little effort.
  • Most people can cross-country ski with only a few hours of instruction.
  • Ideal cross training sport for running and biking.
  • Weight loss—burns more calories per hour than any other sport.

How to Ski
Shorter skis (ski length is shoulder to head high) and taller supportive boots with integral binding system make cross-country skiing easier to learn.

The diagonal stride, or “classic” technique, is efficient and smooth. Its name comes from the alternate movement of arms and legs (the same movement used in walking but more elongated). Equipment is lightweight, with “skinny skis” and boots that look much like running shoes.

Skating is a technique where the skier pushes the skis to the side and glides. It is more dynamic, swifter, and more physically demanding. While it’s the technique of choice for racers, skating can become an enjoyable part of any skier’s technical repertoire.

Either style can be used on uphills, flats, and gentle downhills. Ascents can also be made using the herringbone (effective but ungainly), or the sidestep (practical but boring), or by switchbacking. Backcountry skiing is more rugged and rustic, using wider skis and sturdier boots.