KIRTLAND, Ohio — Weather in Northeast Ohio in the early months of the year can be tough. The excitement of the holidays has passed, and now there’s the long trudge through endless gray days, cold, ice and snow until spring returns.

People either endure it, embrace it, or move to Florida.

If you’re the embrace-it type, you’ve probably already found plenty to do outside. If you’re the endure-it type, well, maybe it’s time to get outside and give something new a try.

For little more than time, and sense of adventure, you can rent cross country skis or snowshoes and explore nearly six miles of groomed trails at Chapin Forest Reservation in Kirtland.

Brian Davidson, a Lake Metroparks Outdoor Education Manager, said, “The great thing about cross country skiing now with the (pandemic) state we’re in, people can just go out and get lost. It’s a great solo recreation.”

He added, “You can lose yourself in the experience.”

You can lose yourself in the beauty of the reservation as well.

The well-maintained, spacious trails range from flat to gently sloping hills and roll through hemlock, oak, beech, maple and tulip trees. Work your way to the top of Lucky Stone Loop Trail for a payoff in the form of a beautiful scenic overlook that extends to Lake Erie and the Cleveland skyline on a clear day. Glide back to the rental facility to warm up by the outdoor fireplace.

If you can’t arrive until later in the day, don’t worry. Chapin Forest Reservation illuminates a miles-worth of Arbor Lane Trail Loop at dusk until the park closes.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, ski and snowshoe rentals must be made online prior to arrival. This makes the rental process as contactless as possible.

Ski rentals are only $5 per hour for adults, $3 for children.

“You can bring the whole family out for about $25. I don’t know of another place where you can do that. The tranquility of skiing and snowshoeing can’t be beat,” Davidson said.

For west siders who can’t make it out east, the Cleveland Metroparks also offers ski and snowshoe rentals at Big Met Golf Course in the Rocky River Reservation. Cross-country skiing is permitted on hiking, bridle, and all-purpose trails (that have not been plowed), as well as the fairways and rough areas of Big Met, Little Met, Shawnee Hills, Seneca, Mastick Woods and Sleepy Hollow golf courses with a 4-inch snow base. For cross-country ski conditions, call 216-635-3270.

Related: Pandemic ski boom: Ohio resorts report busy season, as newbies, veterans seek fun on the slopes

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