Truly the hidden gem at Northstar is the Cross Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center. Located just beyond Vista Lift, tucked away at the corner of where Loggers Loop and Lower Main Street trails meet is a quaint little cabin with a welcoming fire pit out front.
Once inside you’ll most likely be greeted by Aaron Pearlman, the director of the center for over 20 years. Aaron will get you fitted, offer some sound advice, walk you through the trail map and ensure everyone is set-up for a wonderful day. Add on a lesson and Aaron just might be your guide for the day as well.
The center offers snowshoeing, cross country skiing, telemark skiing, fat tire biking and new as of last year, pedal assist e-bikes. Try just one, or tackle a couple different sports between your group to explore the 35 kilometers (about 22 miles) and 41 different trails running all along the east side of the mountain. Several of the trails lead to a breathtaking view point of Lake Tahoe and have picnic benches to stop and rest before heading back. There is also an abandoned train caboose, some warming huts and bathrooms along the way.
Access to the cross country trails is included on your Epic Pass, otherwise you can get day tickets that will run you $47 Adult and $36 Child and equipment rentals range anywhere from $22 to $87 for the new pedal assist e-bikes. Children 4 years old and under are free and especially for them the center now has Thule Chariot Child Carriers to rent for $22/hour.
Cross country skiing is easier to learn than downhill skiing, but a lesson is still always a good idea to learn properly from the start. And since you’ll be moving your body a little more than downhill skiing, it’s always wise to dress in layers. However, the same winter gear is necessary, like hats, gloves, glasses/goggles and waterproof clothing. The cross country trails offer diverse terrain which is all groomed regularly for smooth and clear paths.
There are never any lines or crowds on the cross country trails, making it a perfect family day allowing everybody a little room to spread out and explore at their own pace.
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