PACCSA ski lessons

PACCSA offers free group lessons at Laurel Ridge XC Ski Center throughout the ski season, Jan-Feb and maybe into March, snow permitting.  In 2021 the lessons were for small groups of up to 6 people, comprising one family or one household, arranged by pre-registration at least 2 days in advance (the earlier, the better).   They will be subject to whatever state/county advisories and regulations for recreational sport are in place at the time.  Check back later to find updated plans for the 2021-22 season.  

Click here to read DCNR's what's open page.  Remember that Laurel Ridge XC Ski Center is in a State Park (managed by PA's DCNR) and so there are new special rules for out-of-state visitors.  The larger warming hut is used by the concession only; the smaller hut is open for WC use only - no fires or congregating.  

Lessons will only take place if the trails are groomed.  Laurel Ridge XC Ski Center trails are groomed by the concessionaire, Riversport, not PACCSA.  Almost all lessons will be at the weekends, but there's a chance that someone might be available to teach during the week if the snow cover is exceptionally good. 

The lesson instructors are PACCSA members. Participants are encouraged but not required to join PACCSA.

There is no charge for the lessons, but a trail pass must be purchased from the concession.  For trail fees, see Riversport's Laurel Ridge page.  (Adult trail fee $10, Nov 2020).

What to expect
The lessons usually last around an hour - in 2021 they will be shorter. Instruction is given on the basic skills of classic nordic skiing - falling and rising, balance drills, diagonal stride, use of poles and also hill technique. This is followed by short outing on the trails to practice these skills, if time permits.

Where to meet
The meeting point for lessons at Laurel Ridge XC Ski Center is the open area beside the concession building (this is the wooden building nearest to the parking lot) - see the photo below.  Please allow plenty of time to purchase your trail pass - on busy weekends the line can be quite long - and also to rent ski gear, if necessary.   Directions to Laurel Ridge are here.

What to wear
Dress in layers, avoiding cotton. The innermost and middle layers should be wicking material, eg wool or polyester, and the outer layer should be windproof and smooth-textured (snow sticks to wool and fleece). Clothing for winter running or cycling would be suitable for xc skiing, but add an extra layer as you will be moving more slowly at first.  Don't forget gloves or mittens (not wool), a hat and a neck gaiter, scarf or buff which can be used as a face covering, sunglasses and sunscreen or wind protector, and a change of clothes for afterwards. 

A note on ski rental
For equipment rental, see our gear rentals and retailers page and also the list of PACCSA member discounts.  Ski boots should be fairly snug but not uncomfortably tight.  Ski length depends on the skier's height and weight, and the flex (bendiness) and width of the ski.  For most adult beginners, classic cross country skis would usually be a few inches longer than the skier's height.  Classic pole length should be between armpit and shoulder height.  Make sure that you know how to put the skis on and take them off again. 

Skiing after the lesson
The trail map for Laurel Ridge is here The easiest trails are the purple trail, the blue trail, and the green trails near the number 3 on the partial map below.
Please read about cross country ski etiquette

REI's how to cross country ski page has some good advice and videos.  If you only have time to watch one, watch this one.  
Further reading about xc ski gear 

Laurel Ridge lesson area Purple trail