The place: In Crested Butte—a town of more than 1,600—cross-country is life, as evidenced by Crested Butte Nordic’s 1,200 season pass holders. The nonprofit, which maintains 50 kilometers of trails that encircle the city, is the scene’s heartbeat.
Vibe: Everyone is welcome. On these trails, you’ll encounter elite skiers training for their next races; members of the Gray Hares 50-and-up club; parents hauling infants in ski chariots; and complete novices.
Pro tip: Lessons are free every Wednesday.
Unique feature: All of the town’s trails are searchable on the free Crested Butte Gunnison Trails app (search for CBGTrails) via an interactive map. You can download sections of the maps to use while offline; this is important since some trails don’t have cell reception.
Best beginner trail: Hop on the West Side trails from Butte Avenue. Try 2.3-kilometer (one way) Mike’s Mile (access it via Pooch’s Paradise from Butte Avenue or from the Gronk lot on Peanut Lake Road) for an out-and-back trek with knock-your-ski-socks-off views along the Slate River Valley.
If you get brave: Try the appropriately named 4.6-kilometer Magic Meadows double loop for rolling terrain. Along the way, you’ll encounter the Magic Meadows Yurt, a warming hut that every Sunday transforms into the Backcountry Bistro serving coffee and pastries. (On scheduled winter evenings, try the yurt’s ski-in fine-dining experience: $135 per person includes a ski pass, gear, and a five-course meal.)
Rentals: Adult packages, $20 per day; kids gear, $10
Fees: $20 for adults; $16 for seniors; kids younger than 17 and those 70-plus are free; dogs are welcome on some trails for an extra $5
Après option: For a warm-your-core hot toddy, head to Montanya Distillers. The tasting room’s inventive seasonal cocktails will take the sting out of those aching poling arms.
Where to stay: If you’re here to ply XC paths, you’ll want to stay in downtown Crested Butte—not in the resort village—to be closer to the trails. We like the Public House Lofts, located above the pub by the same name.