From leisurely trips down groomed trails to off-road adventures on frozen beaches, cross-country skiing on Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cuttyhunk can be a unique and rewarding experience. If you’re lucky enough to be on these islands when it snows, there are few better ways to enjoy the winter weather than on skis.
Cross-country Skiing in Cape Cod and the Islands?
If you want to cross-country ski on Cape Cod, timing is an important part of the experience. Winters on Cape Cod are usually temperate due to the warming effect of the North Atlantic Current. In the coldest month, January, highs are around 38° F and lows are around 21° F.
There are very few opportunities to cross-country ski because it rarely snows on the Cape. It only snows about two feet every winter on Cape Cod, which is lower than the national average. Precipitation tends to be an icy mixture of snow and rain – and when snow does stay on the ground, warm weather quickly melts it away. Sometimes, though, a Nor’easter dumps a heap of fresh snow on the peninsula. When this happens, strap on your skis and make the most of it.
Where Can you Cross-country Ski on Cape and the Islands?
After a fresh snowfall, there are many different places to ski on Cape Cod. The Cape and Islands’ golf courses and nature areas are both open to cross-country skiers when they’re blanketed in snow.
Local golf courses offer gently sloping hills and good snow cover (even if it just snowed a few inches). Bayberry Hills Golf Course in West Yarmouth and Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds Golf Course in Marston Mills have hilly terrain that makes them best for cross-country skiing. Almost every golf course is open to cross-country skiers though. Just check the golf course rules.
There are dozens of nature’s preserves and conservation areas spread across the Cape – and you can explore almost all of them on skis. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, Nickerson State Park in Brewster and Beebe Woods in Falmouth both have nice cross-country ski trails.
If you’re looking for a novel experience, check out the fire roads, trails, and beaches in Cape Cod National Seashore. Strong winds hit the coast in the winter, which can mean the snow conditions aren’t great on the beaches. Be prepared to potentially contend with icy spots and snowdrifts. The views over the Atlantic Ocean, however, usually make the trip worth it.
There are also places to ski on Martha’s Vineyard. If you’re on the island, check out Long Point Wildlife Refuge in West Tisbury and the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in Edgartown.
Where Can You Rent Cross-country Ski Equipment on Cape Cod and the Islands?
Most golf courses and nature areas have ski trails, but they don’t offer equipment rentals on site. Wherever you decide to ski on the Cape, you’ll need to bring your equipment with you.
If you don’t have your own Nordic ski equipment, you can buy or rent skis, poles, and boots from Eastern Mountain Sports in Hyannis. Or you can buy (but not rent) your equipment from Puritan Cape Cod in Hyannis. Both sports stores have tons of outdoor clothing options too.
Please feel free to share your favorite Cross Country Ski experience with our audience!