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Four New England inns for cross-country skiers

Skinny board skiers will feel like they have their own private park to play in at the Wild Trails Farm, a cozy, impeccably maintained B&B. More than 20 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails start right outside the farm door, meandering through fields and forests across 472 private acres.Handout

Here’s a recipe for a perfect winter getaway for cross-country skiers. Number one ingredient: access to kilometers of quiet, uncrowded trails, weaving through dense woods and broad open valleys. Add gorgeous backdrop scenery, say, frozen waterfalls, frosty forests, and snowcapped mountain peaks. Now, toss in a comfy country inn where you can rest at the end of your winter wonderland day. Sound appealing? Here are four of our favorite New England inns for cross-country skiers.

Wild Trails Farm

Springfield, Vt.

Skinny board skiers will feel like they have their own private park to play in at this cozy, impeccably maintained B&B. More than 20 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails start right outside the farm door, meandering through fields and forests across 472 private acres.

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“The property includes stunning vistas, including one view encompassing all five southern Vermont ski resorts, as well as gardens, orchards, ponds, quarries and old foundations, many viewable from strategically located seating areas,” says Jo Bregnard, Wild Trails Farm Retreats Manager.

Most of the farm trails are intermediate, with a few marked black diamond trails. There’s a lot of terrain to traverse, so before taking off, download the farm’s free trail app available on the Apple and Google platforms. And if you need to brush up on your skills, the staff can arrange lessons; nearby shops can provide rental equipment if needed.

Once you’ve skied the private farm trails — and if you still have the energy to go further afield — you can explore off-property trails leading directly to Mount Ephraim, the Stellafane Observatory, Brockway Mills Gorge, and a historic cemetery. Up for more fun? There’s also snowshoeing and tubing on the property (equipment provided).

At the end of the day, head back to the farm, with firepits, sauna, a game room, and six comfortable rooms. Popular rooms include the spacious Vermont Room with a king bed, private bath with a whirlpool tub, and private access to the front patio. The Vista Room has the best view, a panoramic perspective of the valley and distant mountains, with a king bed and shared bathroom. 802-875-2275, www.wildtrailsfarm.com; rates start at $150. Wing and whole-house rentals are available.

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Horse-drawn sleigh rides are also offered at Franconia Inn.Handout

Franconia Inn

Franconia, N.H.

“Our inn is an ideal destination for cross-country skiers,” says owner Andrew Ricciardelli. We (and a lot of recent guests) agree. In fact, when we considered the best inns for cross-country skiers in New England, this sprawling former farm-turned-inn topped our list.

The three-story, white clapboard inn, surrounded by the White Mountains, has 30 kilometers of trails on its property, including 20 kilometers of groomed trails, 10 kilometers of ungroomed trails, and a 1.5-kilometer skate skiing loop.

“Skiers will have a unique experience on our trails,” says Ricciardelli. “Unlike most cross-country ski trails, which are wide, our trails are single track and weave through the forest, across meadows, and over streams. Some guests have described it as backcountry cross country skiing.”

There’s a wide variety of trails, from beginner to expert, with sweeping views of the Kinsman Mountain range, and an on-site ski shop with equipment and other gear. A winter activity pass, included in room rates, gives guests access to cross-country trails, snowshoe trails, an ice-skating pond, and snow tubing hill. Equipment rentals for all outdoor activities are available. Horse-drawn sleigh rides are also offered (at additional cost).

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The best part of the day could very well be your return to the inn. Grab a seat next to the fireplace in the oak-paneled library or head downstairs to the warm and inviting Peak’s Pub, serving a nice selection of wine, cocktails, and craft beers, and upscale pub fare, including burgers, sandwiches, and entrees like maple ginger salmon and steak frites. The upstairs dining rooms offer a more elegant experience, with white linen and flickering candles.

There are 29 simply furnished, comfortable rooms and three larger suites. There’s also a separate cottage with two floors, each sleeping six people, with kitchenettes and separate living areas. 603-823-5542, www.franconiainn.com; rates start at $135

The historic 1913 Bethel Inn Resort has been the longstanding centerpiece of the scenic village of Bethel, surrounded by Maine’s lakes and western mountains.Handout

The Bethel Inn Resort

Bethel, Maine

Get ready for some serious pampering and some serious outdoor fun. This historic 1913 inn has been the longstanding centerpiece of the scenic village of Bethel, surrounded by Maine’s lakes and western mountains. The property, spread across more than 200 acres, is crisscrossed with a 25-kilometer network of classic and skate groomed cross-country ski trails. Trails suit all abilities from beginners to advanced and can be combined for short or all-day excursions, with gorgeous views of mountains and forests dotted with ponds and streams. The trail system connects to an additional 15 kilometers of skiing on Gould Academy’s competition trail system, and a separate network of 11 miles of snowshoeing and fat bike trails.

After a day of fresh air and hard exercise, head to the on-site Millbrook Tavern & Grille, for drinks and comfort food, like braised short ribs, root vegetable gnocchi, Guinness stout shepherd’s pie, bucatini Bolognese, or buttermilk fried chicken (go ahead, you deserve it!).

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The inn also has a health club with a fitness center, outdoor heated pool and saunas, and a variety of accommodations, including standard rooms, one- and two-room suites with fireplaces, and one-, two-, and three-bedroom townhouses. 207-824-2175, www.bethelinn.com; rates start at $140

There’s a wide variety of cross-country ski trails at the Franconia Inn, but also a host of other activities, including tubing and snowshoeing.Courtesy/Franconia Inn

Landgrove Inn

Landgrove, Vt.

Looking for laidback, low-key luxury in a slightly off-the-beaten-track locale? Get thee to this rambling inn, a well-cared-for, friendly place, nestled in a valley surrounded by the Green Mountains.

The former dairy farm became one of the first après ski lodges in southern Vermont, drawing a host of famous guests to its doors, including former New York City mayor John Lindsey and members of the Kennedy clan, who came to play in the nearby mountains. (The inn is about 5 miles from Magic and Bromley ski areas, and 10 miles from Stratton and Okemo ski resorts.)

Today, innkeeper and owner Tom Checchia carries on the inn’s fine hospitality tradition. Common rooms have warm wood ceilings and woodwork, original wood beams, and slouch down, make-yourself-comfy furnishings. Guest rooms — 16 in all — have private baths, some with king beds, fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and private decks.

Dining at the inn is a big draw. Guests are treated to a hearty breakfast (included in room rates), and locals, out-of-town visitors, and inn guests can enjoy a three-course dinner in the warm and inviting dining room. Expect straightforward but nicely prepared classic fare: homemade soups and salads, and entrees like roast duckling, prime rib, and daily fish specials.

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But you came here to ski, right? Across the road from the inn are groomed and tracked trails, leading through open meadows with distant mountain views. (Note: Checchia would like to stress that these trails are on private property, and available only to inn guests as a courtesy.) If you’re looking for more tracks, the inn is about 4 miles from both the Wild Wings Ski Touring Center and Viking Ski Touring Center. Also, access to the Catamount Trail, a 300-plus-mile ski trail running the length of Vermont, is about 2 miles down the road. 802-824-6673, www.landgroveinn.com; rates start at $215; winter ski package includes breakfast and dinner each day for $125 per person, per day.


Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@gmail.com