Back home last weekend for some needed relaxation, I rediscovered the place where I first put on a pair of skis: Chapin Forest Reservation, one of the Lake Metroparks that operates east of Cleveland. If you're looking to start cross-country skiing in Ohio, look no further.
Soon after I started cross-country skiing, I graduated to downhill skiing and snowboarding. That decision has taken me to Lake Tahoe and Colorado, big-air contests and backcountry exploration. Even so, I was giddy getting back into the flat-land game.
It might not seem like the most exciting outdoor pursuit, but it's a blast. On cross-country skis, you see the woods in a whole new way.
Chapin has five miles of groomed trails, all of which are accessible to beginners. They're very wide, graded flat with snowmobiles and offer a few undulating hills that meander into northeastern Ohio forests of oak, maple and pine. Only a few steeper sections dot the paths.
The Pine Lodge Ski Center rents both Nordic-style (like the NordicTrack) and skating (like Rollerblading) skis, boots and poles. Cross-country gear costs $5 for the first hour and $2 for each following hour. It's a steal. A fireplace and snacks await your return.
Chapin Forest Reservation Location: 10381 Hobart Rd., Kirtland Drive time: 2 hours, 30 minutes Phone: 440-256-3810 Hours: 12-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday through mid March, weather permitting Cost: Equipment available for $5 first hour, $2 every hour after [Park homepage]
Here's a look at some of the trails. (Full disclosure: That's my mom in the bright pink ski jacket. Ha. That thing kills me.)