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Cross-Country Skiing

crosscountryThe trails of conservation district are a cross-county skier’s paradise.

Cross-country skiing – it’s fun, invigorating, exhilarating, good exercise and suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Not to mention, it’s a great activity to do with family and friends.

In McHenry County, it’s a popular way to enjoy an abundant snowfall and enjoy the scenery of frozen prairies and blanketed woodlands.

Cross-country skiing is one of the healthiest recreational activities for both body and soul. You can enjoy the beauty of nature ­– gliding through snow-covered meadows or under towering trees.

Healthy Winter Activity

Winter’s shorter days and cooler temperatures combined with holiday goodies can lead to a sluggish, heavy feeling. Outdoor recreation like cross-country skiing helps battle winter binges and on average burns 450 to 650 calories per hour. It’s not only a great cardiovascular activity, it works every major muscle group, leaving the body and mind both feeling great. And, unlike local health clubs, the scenery changes every outing and there are no monthly fees.

The hidden payoff is that cross-country skiing is a major calorie burner. While enjoying the scenic beauty of the outdoors, you’ll also be getting a full body workout.

Easy and Close to Home

Cross-country skiing doesn’t require any special skills, but the rewards are many. For beginners, it can be a little confusing getting the walking-gliding motions down, but cross-country skiing uses natural movements and it can be a short learning curve. Once you get the hang of it, cross-country skiing results in fewer injuries due to the smooth gliding motion – making it the ideal winter activity that can be done from ages 5 to 80.

What’s more, the best opportunity to enjoy cross-county skiing is close to home. More than 21 miles of trails are available on McHenry County District sites. Set out on your own or join district staff at one of the scheduled candlelight ski dates. Once there are 3 to 4 inches of packed snow, trails are groomed at Coral Woods, Pleasant Valley, Marengo Ridge, The Hollows, Harrison/Benwell, Rush Creek, Silver Creek, Stickney Run and along the south end of the Prairie Trail.

Cross-Country Events

Solar-lighted Trail at Pleasant Valley features a half-mile looped trail on the east side of the entrance drive that is open during winter evenings for hiking or cross-country skiing. Visitors should park at the early morning parking area and sign in. November 7-March 13 (until 9 p.m.).

Candlelight Ski events occur once in January (Marengo Ridge, Marengo) and once in February (Harrison Benwell Conservation Area, Wonder Lake) following a snowfall of 4 inches or greater on both Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bring your own skis and enjoy refreshments afterward around the campfire. Skiers of every level and age are welcome.

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