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Three cross-country skiiers traverse a snowy hill. Image by Paxson Woelber



What is cross-country skiing?

Would you like to escape Seattle’s gray skies for some good exercise and beautiful views of snow-covered pines while skipping the $$ and crowds that come with resort skiing/snowboarding? 


Cross country skiing is one of the more accessible and affordable ways to recreate in PNW winters with awesome trails as close as 60 minutes from Seattle. It provides fantastic cardiovascular exercise with the opportunity to either socialize simultaneously or enjoy some solitude, is doable into old age, and is beginner friendly.  While the skis are long and narrow (which can be intimidating at first), after an hour or two on them, your confidence will blossom, and you’ll be dreaming of your next adventure.

Getting started

There are two different types of Cross Country Skiing (aka Nordic Skiing). 

  • Classic is the more beginner friendly of the two.  When classic skiing, the skis are typically in two parallel grooves on the side of the groomed trail; the skis remain parallel in the grooves as you kick one ski back and glide forward on the other.  The skis contain some form of traction on the underside of the ski and the boots are more flexible. 

  • Skate skiing is done on a groomed trail that is completely flat.  When skating, you and your ski move in a diagonal motion down the trail, similar to roller blading.  It is faster and more technical than classic, and consequently, instruction is highly recommended. The underside of skate skis are waxed from tip to tail for optimal gliding, and the boots contain stability/support medially and laterally.

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Take an intro class

We’ll provide the gear, transportation, pass and instruction. Or, you can get out there yourself. See classes.


Get Gear

Choose between classic or skate skis (we recommend classic for beginners). We'll also get you fitted for boots and poles. Helmets not required. Bring your own gloves!


Grab your friends and go outside!

What you'll need


Book a kit or individual pieces below.

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XC Ski Boots

Classic boots will be more flexible and comfortable while skate boots are stiffer and more responsive.


XC Skis

Skis come in a variety of lengths and widths!

xc ski poles.webp


XC Ski poles have a snow basket on the bottom and enhanced grip.

Packing List

Alright! You've secured your gear, what else is there?

  • Shell/windbreaker

  • Base layer

  • Hiking pants or moderately thick leggings

  • Fleece gloves or other gloves that aren’t as thick as downhill ski/snowboarding gloves (your hands will get too warm, and they won’t be able to fit into the straps which velcro around your hand)

  • Beanie

  • Optional: small pack with water and snacks if you plan to be out for more than a couple hours

Hone your Craft - Skills Progression

Here are all of our courses, clinics and events we recommend you attend to steadily improve your skills!

Intro to Cross-Country Skiing

Skill Level: Beginner, free for members

XC skiing is easy enough that anyone can do it and it's a great workout in the snow! It's as easy as walking and much more efficient than snowshoeing. This intro class will be on flat terrain - stay tuned for more advanced adventures that goes on rolling terrain!

Member-led Cross-Country Skiing

Skill Level: Intermediate, free for members

Show up at Gearhouse and find others that want to XC ski that weekend! We'll outfit you with gear, ensure we have enough drivers, and head out somewhere to explore! You should have XC skiied before - if it's your first time, come to an intro class first! Classic or Skate welcome. 

Intro to Skate Cross-Country Skiing

Skill Level: Intermediate, free for members

Skate skiing is the next level for those that have tried Classic XC Skiing and gotten the hang of it! (Or for anyone that has skied or skated/roller bladed a lot). Come try the flowing nature of skate skiing and cover some distance! It's tricky to learn but once you get the hang of it, you'll never go back to classic. 

Skill Check 

What level am I?


  • You’ve never been on cross country skis before or have been out a couple times but you don’t feel comfortable picking up speed or slowing down on hills and are still working on staying upright. 


  • You feel pretty comfortable going up and down hills, are familiar with the different poling patterns, and how to make a turn. 


  • You are comfortable with skiing most any terrain, continue to focus on fine tuning your technique and efficiency and improving your endurance.

Upcoming Events
  • Mar 26, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    Gearhouse, 434 Yale Ave N Suite B, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
    Join us other members for Classic - gear included. Everyone has skied before or been to our intro class or is being taught by Lupe so you should be able to cover some ground!