Cross-country skiing is a popular winter sport at Caumsett State...

Cross-country skiing is a popular winter sport at Caumsett State Park in Lloyd Harbor. A lone skier makes his own tracks in the powder snow beside the tracks of someone else. (Jan. 22, 2011) Credit: Photo by Bruce Gilbert

The snowiest January on record has brought that rarest of species back to Long Island's parks: the avid cross-country skier.

With more snow on the way, cross-country-skiing enthusiasts are reveling in a bonanza of winter scenery, wildlife sightings and outdoor exercise.

"It's great to get out and enjoy the beautiful snow," says Kim Schultze of Centerport, president of the Long Island Cross Country Ski Club.

"If you spend two or three hours . . . cross-country skiing, you've used up a lot of calories," adds Judy Kayton of Riverhead, who skis on the East End.

Kayton suggests bringing a camera along to photograph deer, hawks and other wildlife that may cross your path amid the snowscapes.

When to go

"You need enough snow so when it packs down you're not hitting the ground," Schultze says. "We've had a lot of snow this year, so it shouldn't be a problem anywhere you go." If you're heading to a local park, call ahead to find out when conditions are right and trails are open. The parks are generally open sunrise to sunset, weather permitting.



Schultze says no expensive outerwear is required (besides ski boots and skis). Dress in layers, using wicking material such as wool or polypropylene (no denim or cotton). Avoid bulky clothing. "You work up a lot of heat when you cross-country ski, so you want to be able to open zippers and shed layers," she says.



Fourteen state parks and a number of county facilities offer cross-country-skiing trails open to the public. Parking is free this time of year, and there's no charge to use the trails. These are among the popular cross-country-skiing areas, according to members of the Long Island Cross Country Ski Club.

Nassau County



Muttontown Preserve


East Norwich

INFO 516-571-8500

Narrow, scenic trails running through woods are marked for cross-country skiing. The 550- acre preserve features ponds and a historic estate house.


Bethpage State Park



INFO 516-249-0701

The yellow and blue golf courses are open to skiers. Terrain ranges from flat to hilly.


Suffolk County



Caumsett State Historic Park


Lloyd Harbor

INFO 631-423-1770

Open meadows, woodlands and nature trails on a peninsula extending into Long Island Sound.


Gov. Alfred E. Smith/Sunken Meadow State Park


Kings Park

INFO 631-269-4333

Straightaways on open flat land south of the beach behind the parking lot, and trails along the bluffs.


Indian Island County Park



INFO 631-852-3232

Flat terrain with some rolling hills down to the water, with abundant wildlife.


Wildwood State Park


Wading River

INFO 631-929-4314

Rolling hills through a 600-acre forest end at a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound.




The End is a winter wonderland for cross-country enthusiasts, with four state parks open for their sport:

Camp Hero (631-668-3781), Shadmoor (631-668-3781), Hither Hills (631-668-3781) and Montauk Point (631-668-3781).




WHEN | WHERE Sundown Ski & Sport Shop, 47 Northern Blvd., Greenvale

INFO 516-621-6668

COST $30 first day, $10 each additional day

If you don't own cross-country skis, you aren't necessarily out of luck. Sundown Ski & Sport Shop in Greenvale is one of the few Long Island shops - and perhaps the only one - to offer cross-country ski rentals. Inventory is limited - on a recent day, only three pairs of cross-country skis were available - so reserve ahead, says sales rep Daut Kraja.

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