Cross Country Skiing

Skiing is the best way in the world to waste time.
-Glen Plake

Almost every parcel in Groton is a good place to cross country ski (or snowshoe), but the areas described below are extensive and support long excursions into the white wilderness.

Groton Town Forest

The Groton Town Forest has everything for the Cross Country skier. There are over 15 miles of trails to explore from some white-knuckle schussing, to mostly flat. There are many hills and adventures for those who are brave enough, but there are also easy going flat loops. The central part of the Town Forest is a flat glacier river delta, but it drops off sharply along rivers on the Eastern (Nashua River) and Southern (Squannacook River) borders. There are also a multitude of kettle holes and kettle ponds in the central area that make striking exceptions to the generally flat terrain.

Signs for the Town Forest on West Main Street (Rte. 225) will guide you to Wharton Row. When you get to the stop sign at Town Forest Road, turn right and the parking lot is just inside the woods. If it is not plowed yet, park responsibly on Wharton Row. Have an amazing time on this wonderful property.

J Harry Rich State Forest

The J Harry Rich State Forest is completely flat, but if you want a serene and scenic tour through the woods of a winter paradise, along the crisp white Nashua River on (mostly) wide roads and trails, then this is the place to go.

You can access the J Harry Rich Rich State Forest at several trailheads along Nod Road, with parking available around the Common Street entrance. You can also access Rich State Forest via the Nashua River Rail Trail about one mile north of the parking lot on Sand Hill Road. Take the main trail South through Rich State Forest towards the Common Street entrance and then take the trail to the left that is about 500 feet north of Common Street, you can make a 2.5 mile loop. You can add to that distance by taking any of the trails that go off to the West, that will take you along segments of the Nashua River.

General Field and Surrenden Farm

Most all of the General Field and half of Surrenden Farm are fields that can be sun-bathed and wind-swept, so getting the right conditions for cross country skiing can be challenging. However, when the stars align, this is a superb venue for a family cross country tour at sunrise, sunset, or when overcast (if the potential for sticky snow is high). The land is gently sloped for the most part, and so downhill gliding can be enjoyed while the uphill slogging is not daunting. You can stay on the trail at the top of the hill (and Shirley Road if the snow is fresh and deep) to soak in the views of many towns in the area as well as the stand-out Mt. Wachusetts, or you can take/make a trail for about two miles down and around the General Field and connect with the Surrenden Farm field to the West. The Surrenden Farm field also has a couple of connections to trails that go into the woods. These trails, being protected from the sun and wind, are apt to have generally better conditions for skiing.

The General Field is on the border between Groton and Ayer. Access is from Farmers Row (Rte. 111). Take a paved road that is about 0.1 miles south of Joy Lane to the parking area.