Top-Ten Favorite Places to Ski in the United States

(Photo: David Norris)

I’m David Norris and I am a professional skier and part-time bookkeeper. I grew up in Fairbanks, AK and skied NCAAs for Montana State University where I graduated with a degree in accounting in 2014. I currently live in Anchorage and ski for the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center. This spring I earned a Masters in Business Administration from APU and celebrated by skinning laps up Bridger Bowl (I got “stuck” in Montana during the initial Covid-19 lockdown). When I am not skiing my favorite activities are mountain biking, trail running, fly-fishing, hunting, cooking, and tinkering (smoking salmon, making jam, potting plants, whittling utensils from the finest wood, etc.). 

My top-ten favorite places to ski in America: 

Birch Hill- Fairbanks, AK: Birch Hill is truly my home trail network. There is no trail fee, roughly 10km of lighted trails, an incredible 10km recreation loop, a classic only trail, and a number of legit race loops. Every level of skier would enjoy Birch Hill. 

Birkie Trail- Hayward, WI: Racing or joy skiing on the Birkie trail is hard to beat. Skiing through the rolling terrain is some of the best vibes and endorphins you can get on skis. 

(Photo: American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation)

Sourdough Canyon - Bozeman, MT: This old logging road somehow never gets old to me. As a Bobcat alum, I spent hundreds of hours skiing this trail. It takes several hours to ski the full length of the out and back, and the terrain only gets better as you keep skiing. Bozeman has some great breweries and coffee roasters as well, so book-ending your ski with one of those stops is the ultimate ticket. 

(Photo: Outside Bozeman)

Mount Van Hoevenberg- Lake Placid, NY: I haven’t skied a ton here, but from a brief training camp in Lake Placid in 2010 I only have good memories of these trails. The old Olympic course has big climbs which are then followed by fast, swooping downhills. This rolling terrain that makes for great racing is a trademark of East coast skiing, which is something I love about it. 

(Photo: XC Ski Resorts)

Kincaid Park- Anchorage, AK: When the snow conditions are good, this place is paradise. Kincaid has a great lighted loop plus one of my single most favorite trails ever: Leikisch 7.5km loop. Kincaid also hosts a Christmas tree decoration contest on one of its loops so it makes for a fun place to night-ski during December when there is a fancy tree every few hundred meters. 

(Photo: Loren Homes)

Enchanted Forest- Red River, NM: I raced here in college and the roughly 10,000ft elevation was not fun, but if you’re not racing these trails are incredible. I love how amazing the recreating is in New Mexico, and people rarely seem to think of it as a destination. Also, Red River Brewing has an awesome heated patio where I highly suggest ordering the Hatch green chili burger! 

(Photo: Red River Brewing)

Girdwood Winter Trails- Girdwood, AK: Girdwood is a fun place to be regardless of the season. When the winter weather cooperates, this small trail network is top-notch. The main 5km loop could be a course on the World Cup. I love it, but that being said, it might not be the best place to learn how to ski as some of the downhills are pretty exciting.

Lone Mountain- Big Sky, MT: One of my favorite things about skiing here is that over a couple hours I can do a huge perimeter loop without doubling over any trails. Thanks to the cold nights and powerful sun during the day, you can classic ski here using a blue kick wax and still being skiing in just a vest and tights- the ultimate combination in my opinion. 

(Photo: Lone Mountain Ranch)

Royal Gorge- Soda Springs, CA: Another brutal altitude venue, but it is worth it for all the awesome loops this network boasts. During a Super Tour week in Truckee, my team trained here several times, and we used the Nordic trails as our up-track. Then we got some of the best powder of my life tree skiing back down to the groomed trail. Picture from that day!

(Photo: Ophira Group)

Soldier Hollow- Midway, UT: Maybe a basic pick, but I love skiing the trails here. They are fun to train on, and they are one of my favorite race courses in the US. This sunny area of Utah also has a few other Nordic and alpine options within an hour’s drive, making for a great central location.

(Photo: Utah Outdoor Fun)

- David Norris

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