Cross-country Skiing

Winter in Minnesota brings scenic, snowy landscapes and crisp, fresh air. It’s the perfect backdrop for cross-country skiing. This recreational activity is a peaceful way to explore the parks in winter while getting a great, low-impact workout. Three Rivers features over 80 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails at various locations throughout the Twin Cities metro area, and certain parks offer rental equipment, including adapted equipment. Trails are available for skiers of all skill levels.

Upcoming Events

Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener

Dec. 11 | Elm Creek
Celebrate cross-country skiing at this free event! Bring the whole family for a day of ski tours, demonstrations, rentals and more. Receive a free gift while supplies last!

Trail Conditions

Trail conditions can change with the weather and some trails may close occasionally. Before you head out, check the trail conditions

Miles of Trails

The following mileage is for cross-country skiing. Interested in hiking? Three Rivers has miles of other trails for hiking and snowshoeing in the winter.

Baker: 9.1
Carver: 11.3
Cleary: 6 (2.8 lighted)
Crow-Hassan: 2.6
Eagle Lake: 3.6, 
Elm Creek: 11.4 (3.4 lighted, 1.8 snowmaking)
French: 5.2 (2.9 lighted)
Glen Lake: 1.5
Hyland: 9.5 (5.3 lighted, 3.3 snowmaking)
Lake Rebecca:15.6
Murphy-Hanrehan: 9

Two women smiling and holding cross-country ski poles.

Ski Rentals

Advance equipment reservation is required. Cross-country ski sets can be reserved up to seven days in advance online or over the phone.

Classic and skate-style ski rentals are available at several parks. View rental rates and reservation information


A cross-country ski pass is required for skiers age 12 and older. Minnesota Ski Passes are not required in Three Rivers Parks.

If you already have a recreation pass card, your new season pass will be loaded onto it, allowing you to use the same card year after year. One card can hold multiple pass types. 

Two-tier Ski Pass Program

All Parks Pass

Required at Elm Creek and Hyland where snowmaking capability offers a reliable season of ski-able snow. Valid at all Three Rivers parks offering cross-country skiing.

Natural Snow Parks Pass

Valid at all Three Rivers parks offering cross-country skiing except Elm Creek and Hyland. 

Daily Passes

  • Elm Creek & Hyland: $9*; Natural Snow Parks: $6*
  • Daily passes may be purchased online.
  • A one-time credit of a daily ski pass can be applied to the cost of a season ski pass when purchased by mail at Three Rivers Park District, 3000 Xenium Ln N, Plymouth, MN 55441.

Annual Passes

  • All Parks: $75*; Natural Snow Parks: $55*
  • Purchase online or by calling 763-559-6700.
  • If you already have a recreation pass card, even from a previous year, any newly purchased annual pass will be immediately added to your card.
  • If you purchase your pass online or over the phone, you will receive a confirmation receipt via email which will serve as your seven-day temporary pass. You can expect to receive your recreation pass card in the mail in about one week.
  • There is no limit to the number of additional annual passes that can be purchased in a household.
  • Annual passes may be purchased as gifts.

Pass exchanges and upgrades can be handled in person at the parks or at the Administrative Center.

Replacement Passes

Recreation pass cards can be replaced if lost or damaged for a $5* fee. Call 763-559-6700 to request a replacement card.

*Sales tax not included.

Ski Lessons

four men with ski poles smiling at cameraPublic Lessons

Registration for 2021-2022 lessons opened October 19 at 8 AM. 

Three Rivers offers cross-country ski lessons for adults and children, including adapted sit-ski lessons. Lessons will help you glide into action on the trails this winter. View all lessons

Private Lessons

Registration for 2021-2022 private lessons opens December 1 at 9 AM.

Choose between classic or skate techniques. Lessons are 90 minutes and skiers must be at least 6 years old. All youth under 18 must be accompanied by a participating adult. Learn more about private lessons before you register.


  • $65/one-on-one private lesson
  • $80/group of two
  • $90/group of three
  • Group rate: 4-10 people: $100 

*Equipment not included in lesson rates.

Scheduling a Lesson

Complete this form to request a lesson. Private and semi-private lessons will begin on December 18 as conditions allow. Requests for private lessons should be received at least seven days prior to your requested date. Lessons are not confirmed until payment has been received.

For assistance, call 763-694-7718. Our business hours are Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4:30 PM (Wednesdays until 6 PM). Our office is closed Friday, December 24. 

Ski clubs are a great way to meet others with a passion for cross-country skiing.

At Three Rivers, we believe everyone belongs in the parks. The Recreation Pass Plus includes free equipment rentals and recreation passes, and discounts on programs and events. It is available for families and individuals who are experiencing financial difficulty and live in Hennepin County. 

Programs & Events

See all cross-country skiing programs and events

Three Rivers works to ensure the accessibility of our parks and trails for all people. Cross-country sit-skis are available for use at several locations.

Get great benefits, including a free season pass, competitive wages, a fast-paced environment, flexible hours and more. Check out all employment opportunities and apply today!

Related Blog Posts

January 25, 2021

Learn how to stay warm this winter with these basic tips and enjoy being outside with the right clothes no matter what the thermometer says.

Best Trails for Cross-Country Skiing

By: Three Rivers Staff

January 17, 2020

We're in for a lot of snow this weekend, which means it's time to hit the ski trails! Read on to find our favorite beginner, intermediate, advanced and long-distance (5-10K) cross-country ski trails in Three Rivers. 

Finding Hygge This Winter

By: Jenifer Garcia

December 16, 2019

Here in Minnesota, we try our best to make winters bearable. Hygge may be a way for some of you to crack the code on creating a fun and even merry season despite the arctic temperatures. Read on to learn what hygge is and get ideas on how to start incorporating it into your life.

Other Things To Do

Bike Trail


Two women bike over a bridge.

Biking in Three Rivers is a great way to get the whole family outside. Whether you’re the casual rider or a cyclist in training, you’ll appreciate more than 240 miles of off-roadway bike/hike trails that wind through woodlands and grasslands and rim the shorelines of lakes and ponds at our parks.

Downhill Ski Area

Downhill & Telemark Skiing

Skier mule kicking in the air

Hyland Hills Ski Area and the Winter Recreation Area at Elm Creek offer downhill ski areas for all skill levels, from training hills to Olympic-level training jumps. The downhill ski areas feature snowmaking and well-groomed hills for unbeatable winter fun.



A turf trail passes by a sign that says "hiking trail."

One of the best ways to explore year-round is to head out for a hike on the extensive trail system in Three Rivers. Trails wind through the woodland, grassland and wetland habitats of many species of wildlife. You’ll be amazed at what you might see along the way.

Please note: In winter, hiking on cross-country ski trails is not permitted.

Skijoring and Dog Sledding

Skijoring & Dog Sledding

Women on skis with dog pulling

If you have a dog with some pent-up winter energy, bring it to Three Rivers Parks for fun exercise where we have designated trails for skijoring and dog sledding.



four people snowshoeing on a sunny day.

Three Rivers offers trails of varying difficulty for snowshoers of all skill levels. It’s a great way for the entire family to take in the scenes of a Minnesota winter. Please note: Snowshoeing is not permitted on cross-country ski trails unless otherwise noted.

New This Season: Snowshoe rentals require advanced reservations. Availability will vary by location.




Children waiting at the top of the tubing hill

If you like sledding, you’ll love snow tubing at the Winter Recreation Area at Elm Creek. Ride a moving sidewalk up a hill 10 stories high and then soar back down on a specially designed inner tube. Once you get to the bottom, do it all over again.

New this season: Advance online reservations are required for tubing.