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Bethlehem, New Hampshire, United States

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27 April 2016

Walking Along XC-Trails at Bretton Woods Nordic Center during the Off-Season


In early Springtime, and early Autumn, I enjoy walking some of the XC-ski trails close to my home in Bethlehem, NH.  During those short few weeks, the trails are usually snow-free, and the corridors are also free of tall grass and weeds.

However, before embarking on such an adventure, one needs to do some research to understand the idiosyncrasies of the XC-ski trails you plan to visit.  There are some variations, but it pretty much boils down to three scenarios, as follows:

1) There are trail systems with ski corridors that run partially or entirely across private land.  However, fee-paying skiers are allowed to cross the land during snow season due to 'special-use' agreements with the landowners.  But once ski season is over, then the 'special-use' provision expires, and the private-land trails are closed to the public.

2) There are other trail systems where some or all of the corridors run across public land, but during ski season the public must pay a fee to use the trails due to 'special-use' agreements.  However, once ski season is over, then the 'special-use' agreement expires, and the trails are available to the public at no charge.

3) Just to add to the complexity, there are yet other XC-ski trail systems that are on public land and are open free of charge during all seasons of the year.  Here in New Hampshire, there are several of these types of XC-trail systems that are managed by various organizations such as the U.S. Forest Service, the Appalachian Mountain Club, etc.


In late April 2016, I decided to walk several miles along XC-ski corridors maintained by Bretton Woods Nordic Center.  This is a fee-based trail system during ski season (click HERE for details).  At the time I did my walk, the ski season was over, and I only used trails located on public land holdings of the White Mountain National Forest.  Therefore, my little adventure fell into the 2nd category described above.

Admittedly, walking along XC-ski trails isn't everyone's "cup of tea".  However, there are some folks like me who derive pleasure by simply walking in the woods, regardless of whether it's on a conventional hiking trail, or a XC-ski trail, or a bushwhack.

Experience has taught me that any of those aforementioned outings can bring surprises.  For example, on this particular trek, a moose was standing in one of the trails that I was walking.  And, I also came across a sweeping vista that was totally unexpected.  Albeit, this vista was the result of a huge logging cut, which is a venture that can understandably generate some lively debate.


The following photos are a sampling of what was seen during my walk along XC-ski trails at Bretton Woods Nordic Center.
This snapshot shows the moose that I mentioned above.  It only stood still long enough for one photo, and then quickly scurried away into the surrounding forest.
This photo shows the logging cut mentioned above.  It's located high up on the Ammonoosuc Springs XC-Trail.  The vista stretches (L to R) from Mt. Deception to Mt. Jackson.
There were other trail-side mountain views that also were enjoyable, such as the one shown here.
There were also simpler things to experience while walking through the woods, such as these white birches against a blue sky.
And finally, on almost any outing in the White Mountains of NH, there will be a brook somewhere along the route.  Although this brook was small, it was scenic in its own way.