cross country skiing and snowshoeing in North Lake Tahoe

The Lake Tahoe region may have the greatest concentration of large cross-country ski areas in the U.S., with more than 800 km of groomed trails. We have listed the bigger operations; local tourist offices can direct you to smaller centers or non-commercial places to ski or snowshoe. Many of the ones we list here also have full-moon tours and snowshoe rentals and tours, so call for information.

The xc ski areas in the Tahoe area include Royal Gorge, Northstar, Squaw Creek, Tahoe Donner Cross Country Center, and Tahoe Cross-Country. The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, (888-434-1262 or 530-583-3494) has more info about the region.

The largest private trail system in North America is in California at Royal Gorge (530-426-3871; 800-500-3871; www.royalgorge.com) just off I-80, west of Donner Summit at the Soda Springs exit. Royal Gorge has 6,000 acres of terrain and more than 200 km of trails (90 km groomed) with a skating lane inside the tracks. They also make snow on some trails, use a fleet of snowcats, and have surface lifts to have fun on steeper open terrain. Now owned by Sugar Bowl Resort. For a full page of info click Royal Gorge.

Royal Gorge has four surface lifts to help skiers up the tougher inclines. It is a full-service ski area, with rental equipment, ski school, ten warming huts, four cafes and a full-time ski patrol. CCSAA member

Tahoe Donner Cross Country (530-587-9484; www.tdxc.com) is a premier facility located 10 minutes from downtown Truckee, CA (3.5 hours from San Francisco, 1.5 hours from Sacramento, 45 minutes from Reno) with more than 100 km of trails groomed daily for diagonal striding, skate skiing, and snowshoeing. Head out to ski or snowshoe on scenic trails through pine trees, climb challenging peaks, cruise along gentle rolling hills through aspens or glide along flat areas and meadows while exploring the Euer Valley. There are 4,800 acres of terrain, 56 trails (including 4 snowshoe-only) on 3 track systems with 5 warming huts. For a full page of info click Tahoe Donner.

Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area (530-583-5475; www.tahoexc.org), two miles east of Tahoe City, is a non-profit ski foundation within a neighborhood with great views of Lake Tahoe from the trails. It has 65 km of groomed skating lanes and tracks, a day lodge, cafe, lessons, and rentals. Those older than 69 and younger than 10 ski free; Dogs welcome. CCSAA member

Northstar-at-Tahoe Cross Country Ski & Snowshoe Center (530-562-2475; www.northstarattahoe.com) has 50 km of groomed and marked trails. Take the gondola or quad chairlift to the xc trails. XC ski equipment rentals are available, as are snowshoe rentals. All are near the day lodge and Alpine area slopes. There are scenic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountain peaks. The alpine ski area lift ticket is exchangeable for xc ski trails. Warming huts and picnic tables along the trails. There's a great trail from the top of the Northstar alpine resort down to Tahoe XC in Tahoe City, which is bucket list-worthy. CCSAA member

Squaw Creek Cross-Country Ski Center (530-583-6300) is a small area at the Resort at Squaw Creek, which has rentals and lessons. Trails cover 18 km, are groomed daily, and range from beginner to expert. The Resort is a top notch facility and it has a ski lift to access the Squaw Valley Ski Area.. www.squawcreek.com