Lake Metroparks makes cross-country skiing fun and affordable for the entire family at Chapin Forest Reservation. My older son received some cross-country skis for Christmas and had grown bored of skiing in our neighborhood. So I looked online to our fabulous metroparks for some options for cross-country skiing and was happy discover Pine Lodge Ski Center at Chapin Forest. Not quite knowing what to expect but up for an adventure, we gathered our snow gear and set out for Chapin Forest.
When you enter Chapin Forest, the ski center is the blue building on the left. After parking in the lot just beyond the building, we headed to the ski center. You need a driver’s license as a deposit when renting skis. Also be sure to bring cash or checks, as they are the only forms of payment accepted. The employees were extremely knowledgable in helpful while sizing my daughter and me with skis, boots, and poles. The boots have a good amount of insulation and were quite comfy. I wore one pair of heavier socks and my feet stayed warm during our 1-1/2 hour ski.
That brings me to what to wear. The kids wore their full snow gear: snow pants, winter coats, waterproof gloves, and hat. I am a summer and sunshine type of gal and being so do not own snow pants. I wore a heavier pair of black yoga pants along with medium weight gloves, a winter coat and hat and was absolutely fine during the ski. On the drive to Chapin Forest, I was kicking myself for not thinking of wearing leggings underneath my pants. Now, I think they would have made me too warm and will stick with the yoga pants again for our next skiing adventure.
There is a large, flat field before you hit the trails. This is a great area to work on your technique if you’re a little bit rusty or haven’t tried cross-country skiing before. If you would prefer a lesson before taking off, private lessons are available with prior arrangement and group lessons are available on the weekends (pre-registration is required for some group lessons).
The trails were well-groomed and marked. My 9-year-old led the way for most of our adventure and never had difficulty locating the trails. We completed the Beech Woods Loop in about 45 minutes then set out on the Arbor Lane Loop. About 1/3 of the way into the Arbor Lane Loop there is a nice hill with a wide trail area. We had a blast going down this hill several times before heading back to the lodge.
Back at the lodge we took a few minutes to warm up by the fire after checking our equipment back in. Again the employees were extremely kind and helpful. Outside the lodge there are also several great places to take photos with giant snowmen and oversized chairs.
Ski rental is just $5 for the first hour and $2 every hour after for adults. Kids 12 years and younger are $3 for the first hour and $1 every hour after. This is perhaps the most affordable winter activity we have ever done. As a family of 6, admission costs and rental fees quickly add up. I love that this is an activity we can enjoy several times per season without having to take out a small loan. They rent boots starting with a child’s size 8, making this an activity the entire family can enjoy.
In addition to cross-country ski rental and lessons, Chapin Forest also offers snowshoe rental and hikes, scouting merit badge opportunities, winter camps, and a Frozen Junior Olympics!
We can’t wait to return for more winter fun!