Be prepared: Cross-country skiing gives your legs a workout. Without the help of gravity like downhill skiing, you will need to propel yourself forward over flat ground. But the resulting experience is worth it. "It's one of those things where the more you do it, the better you get at it," says Paul Motts, a park ranger and ski instructor at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. "You can go out there when the temperatures are 12 degrees and be nice and warm, and just be able to take in the beautiful sights and sounds."
Daily groomed trails, professional lessons and a wide selection of rentals are available. Not to be missed: its scenic overlook, from which "you can see to the lakeshore — all the way to downtown Cleveland on a clear day," says manager Brian Davidson. 10381 Hobart Road, Kirtland, 440-256-3810, lakemetroparks.com
THE GIRDLED ROAD RESERVATION
Located among the Lake Metroparks, it piggybacks on neighbor Chapin Forest's rental equipment, but it is equally scrupulous in its grooming and draws a "smaller, more experienced crowd," says Davidson. 12899 Radcliffe Road, Concord, 440-256-3810
The arboretum boasts four ski trails, three of which are groomed. "They go through our plant collections that have considerable winter interest," says Dave Desimone, director of guest relations. 9500 Sperry Road, Kirtland, 440-946-4400, holdenarb.org
THE WINTER SPORTS CENTER AT KENDALL LAKE
"People can experience the sights and sounds of the park and have a complete wilderness/backcountry skiing experience," Motts says of the 25-plus miles of trails, which run from the center through the Cuyahoga Valley. 1000 Truxell Road, Peninsula, 216-524-1497, dayinthevalley.com