Nordic Lights: The Best in Cross-Country Skiing

California: Sierra Hut-to-Hut Cross-Country Tour

Perhaps one of the best cross-country skiing tour sites resides just outside of Bishop, California. Situated at 9,373 feet, the backwoods territory is prestine, with two well-equipped huts, three miles apart. You can ski the relatively flat trails between huts, or venture off into powder bowls with no one else in sight—a true backwoods experience.
If you prefer groomed track, the nearby Tamarack Lodge in Mammoth Lakes offers 25 miles of tracked trails starting at 8,600 feet. Comfortable, heated cabins with complete facilities make the nights pass as easily as your skis across the the miles of fresh snow.

If these programs don't offer you enough of a challenge, in March or April try the High Route through the Sierras. More remote, tougher, and higher than the illustrious Haute Route of France (Chamonix to Saas-Fee), the Sierra High Route requires the ultimate in physical strength, stamina, and preparation. Take the thee- to seven-day, 40-mile route from the Symmes Creek Trailhead near Independence, west to Wolverton. In contrast to the well-used Haute Route, on the Sierra High Route you rarely see other skiers. This is surprising because spring skiing in the Sierra can be the best in the world. Weather tends to be sunny, the corn snow is easy to navigate, storms are short-lived, and there are an almost endless number of routes you can take into realms of breathtaking scenery with nary another soul around.
Practically Speaking
Self-guided tours between huts are quite inexpensive, running around $40 a day, though the huts carry a two-person minimum. Multiple-day, guided tours are also available, an attractive option for those less skilled. For those anxious for just a day outdoors in the cold, a nominal trail fee is charged at the groomed resorts.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 29 Jan 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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