Next Weekend: A Winter Actionland


Race the Cactus Cup
McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Scottsdale is the storybook site of the erstwhile Specialized Cactus Cup races. It's a huge singletrack buffet that includes loops of eight and 15.5 miles, often tracing the competition routes. The riders and guides of Arizona Outback Adventures will steer you to the fat-tire orgy of options and rent you great bikes, from a front-suspension Giant ($25 half day) to a full-suspension Giant Trance with five inches of travel ($63;

Ski Hidden Tahoe
The ski-in cabins in Spooner Lake Cross Country Ski Area put their occupants in the middle of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, where 50 miles of groomed cross-country trails spread over 9,000 acres ($319 weekends for two nights, including ski passes and rentals for two; After departing the central lodge (sandwiches, drinks, rentals), wind through aspen groves and circle mountain lakes. The Marlette Lake loop climbs five miles till it leaves the pine trees for a postcard view of Tahoe.
Stow Away in the Snowies
You know your accommodations are remote when they sit above the top of the local ski area. Snowy Mountain Lodge's 18 cabins and main inn are scattered in the pines at 10,000 feet, about 1.5 miles up the road from the Snowy Range Ski Area ($65; Out your cabin door lie 140 miles of Forest Service cross-country trails. Inside, the restaurant serves fresh-baked pies and smoked brisket "made by guys who were high-powered chefs in the real world," says owner Dave McIlrath.


Drive on All Fours
Do you get queasy driving 30-degree slopes on your way to the trailhead? Think traction control refers to bouldering shoes? Matriculate in the Land Rover Driving School ($200 for an hour; $800 for a full day, three drivers; out of oak-shaded Quail Lodge near Carmel ($365; and you'll drill ways to milk muscle from your 4x4. And yes, you get to drive a Land Rover, but the lessons transfer neatly to whatever wheels you own.

Ride Out a Storm
Winter storms can bash the Oregon coast to the tune of 30-foot waves, wild winds and driving rains--a natural spectacle best viewed from the quiet confines of the Heceta Head Keeper's House, an 1894 landmark that stands beside a working lighthouse between Florence and Yachats ($133; The six-room B&B serves an outrageous seven-course breakfast (the owners are both executive chefs). Fuel up for great coastal hikes like the nearby Yachats 804 Trail--two miles of big waves pounding big basalt.

Cozy Up to a Powder Magnet
Not the type to gamble on snow? Mount Rainier National Park is sure to be white by December 1, en route to 30 to 90 feet of powder for the season. Hole up in the National Park Inn--a vintage 1920s lodge with cozy rooms and access to XC routes and snowshoe paths like the Rampart Ridge Trail, a 4.6-mile loop that ascends 1,800 feet to a view of hulking Rainier ($104;

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