Finding a Place - No Sweat!

The Pocono Mountains offer no shortage of exciting winter activities and cross country skiing tops them all when you consider the benefits. Cross Country skiing provides breathtaking scenery, it’s fun, safe, affordable and something the entire family, regardless of age or athletic ability can enjoy. And although you may not be counting calories on vacation, why not burn 500 to 1,000 per hour on the trails?

With seven state parks and over 2400 square miles of mountains, lakes, streams and woodlands, the question becomes, where to go? Here are a few options.

Cross Country Skiing

Cross Country Skiing

Hickory Run State Park- Carbon County, White Haven, PA offers cross country skiing in addition to snowmobiling and ice skating. You can ski free of charge along their thirteen miles of designated trails from sunrise to sunset. They're open all year, but call (570) 443-0400 for weather conditions and reservations.

Promised Land State Park- Pike County situated on the Plateau of the Poconos offers cross country skiing on just about every trail, however the Bruce Lake Natural Area provides the best cross country skiing. You should check out Kleinshans Trails and Panther swamp Trails as well. Visit for trail lengths and other specifics.

Gouldsboro State Park Monroe and Wayne Counties offers cross country skiing on Prospect Rock and Old Route 611 Trails. The former has some very rocky areas whereas the latter trail is easier, shorter and better for beginners.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, DCNR, provides full information on all the state parks in the Poconos, including details of cross country venues as well as info on camping and lodging, so visit them at

And speaking of lodging, a couple of decent places to park your poles are The Sterling Inn and its sister resort, French Manor Inn, both located in Sterling, PA. At the Sterling Inn you can cross country ski on site with rental equipment available. Centrally located in the Poconos and only a five to thirty- minute drive to the seven state parks, both inns suit the cross country skier, not to mention amenities such as fine dining, massage, fire places and Victorian suites. For details on The Sterling or French Manor Inns visit or respectively.

One place that truly caters to cross country skiers, both newbies and buffs alike is Cliff Park Inn. Located in Milford, PA deemed "the coolest small town in America" by The New York Times, Cliff Park Inn is steeped in tradition. The Inn sits in the middle of the largest national park east of the Mississippi and houses the second oldest golf course in the US. Incidentally, this was the first golf course in the US to allow women golfers when it officially opened in 1913. And while Cliff Park Inn prides itself on having been selected one of the top 10 Foliage Inns, you won't find a scrap of snobbery here. Its doors are wide open to guests, locals and out-of-towners who just want to ski for the day. If you're a cross country skiing enthusiast, you can explore the seven miles of surrounding trails. They'll even stuff a backpack full of goodies for you to take on your cross country skiing jaunt in case you get hungry. If you're new to the sport, it's' the perfect place to learn. You can ski the golf course and never worry about getting lost as you're always within sight of the Inn's Victorian porch. When you're ready for a break, meander on over to that porch where you'll be served complimentary coffee, tea or hot chocolate. For a mere nine dollars a day you can ski to your heart's content. Rental equipment is available for an additional ten dollars. The place doesn't get crowded and you won't run be dodging any snow mobiles.

After a full day on the trails, warm up by the fire place as you savor complimentary hors d'oeuvres prior to dinner prepared by a 5-star chef. This is a place where you can come in and literally kick up your feet and relax. Locals can enjoy the casual pub downstairs. Evening entertainment ranges from music and dancing to a game of Texas Hold'em or darts, and Karaoke. Rumor has it that all kinds of people show up there, be they musicians, writers, artists, business people or average Joe, you never know who you'll meet and everyone gets treated the same. As a guest at the inn, early risers might catch a glimpse of the wild turkey traversing the golf course and if you stayed up too late shooting pool, you can still marvel at the deer running by or catch a hawk or eagle soaring above the tree tops. It's hard to beat. Visit their website or call 800 225-6535.

No matter your age, athletic ability or pocketbook size, cross country skiing the Poconos has something to offer you. Make this destination your winter home away from home.

- Jude Pedersen