There's only one major city in the world with better cross-country skiing than the Twin Cities, and that's Oslo, the virtual birthplace and acknowledged Mecca of the sport. So anyone with a serious yen for this most graceful and noble of winter pastimes knows the only thing more common here than a good ski trail is a lighted hockey rink. For skating skiers, nothing beats Highland Hills in Bloomington, with more than 10 kilometers of groomed trail in hilly, wooded terrain, a recently lighted loop around Highland Lake, and a chalet-style park building that would flatter the Matterhorn. While classical striders will also love Highland, they might prefer the tight, winding track and lung-busting hills of Theodore Wirth's Tyrol Hills section: an especially invigorating and dangerous ride in the moonlight and the city-glow of a winter evening.


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