Roller Ski Trails for All Abilities

One of the nice developments over the last 30 years is the number of multi-use trails that have been developed. With in 40 miles of where I live in Western Pennsylvania, I can travel to almost a dozen different trails. When visiting my parents in Michigan last week, I was also able to spend time on a few different trails.

One of the nice things about the different trails, is that the terrain differs, making some trail great for the beginner or a relaxed easy day of roller skiing / cross skating, while another trail can have some challenging hills to get the blood flowing a little faster. The Betsie Valley Trail is an example of an easy, flat trail. The 6-mile paved section of this trail links Crystal Lake to the Lake Michigan town of Frankfort. I always seem to enjoy the beautiful scenery that includes views of the boat harbor in Frankfort, views looking down at the Betsie River, and a few ponds, quite often with turtles perched on logs along the way.

A second trail of the trip was the Leelanau Trail from just outside Traverse City to Suttons Bay. This also is an old railroad bed, but one that has a gradual slope of around 40 ft per mile. A little more effort on the uphill sections, but a little easier on the downhill sections. I would classify a trail like this as easy to moderate. The slope is enough to make you work a little when going up, but not so steep that you have to have good brakes for going down. Suttons Bay is a great little resort type town to reward oneself with a little nutrition after a nice day on the trail.

The third trail of the trip was the southern half of the Heritage Trail which traverse Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. At one end of the section of this trail is the town of Empire, at the other Glen Arbor. In between, you will find a few miles of rolling hills that are work physical work going up and require good brakes or a no fear mentality going down. After passing the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb, the trail levels out some, and travels through an old Coast Guard Village of Glen Haven and then through a state park campground before arriving in the town of Glen Arbor.


Three trails. One easy, one easy to moderate, and one more difficult because of a few steep up and steep down hills. All three, an enjoyable way to keep the ski muscles ready for the winter season.

Roller Ski Locally

My preferred area to roller ski / cross skate is on a trail vs a road.  It is nice rolling along and not having to worry about the few drivers that feel that roads should be only for cars.  Trails come in a variety of different surface types.  The most common surface type I summertime ski on is a paved asphalt surface.  The second being a crushed limestone surface.  Both are quite common in Western Pennsylvania where I live.

Unlike the winter where I have to travel a minimum of 80 miles (130km) to find a nicely groomed trail, I have many trails within 25 miles (40km) of home, including the Hunter Farm trail, a 3 mile loop trail through some woods and fields with one small hill.  When busy with life and trying not to spend as much time in the car, this is my go-to spot to ski.  The lack of travel time is definitely one of the advantages of skiing with wheels, easily allowing me to find some time almost every day to get outside and get the blood flowing.