Northern NH Ski Areas: Great snow, good times!

NH Recreation Articles: NH's North Country Ski Areas


North Country Ski Areas
A Capsule View For First Timers

by Dan Crawford

Attitash Resort
Route 302
Bartlett, NH 03838
(603) 374-6500

Attitash is one of the most beautiful recreation areas in the White Mountains. Views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, rugged, craggy outcroppings make this a year round destination for active folks. Like many New Hampshire place names, Attitash traces its name to the Abenaki Indian language. It means "blueberry."

Skiers and snowboarders will find ten lifts, and access to over 70 trails across two peaks. A 1750 foot vertical drop will provide excitement. The ski school provides instruction for all levels, with "terrain runs" with ladders and other trick elements. In the spring through fall, an alpine slide (the longest in North America) cruises through the great scenery. This attraction combines the feel of a bobsled run with a wheeled vehicle. This unique ride passes some great White Mountain scenery.

Attitash offer ski passes are honored by neighboring Wildcat ski area, and season passes are available for mountain biking. The Attitash resort also offers horseback riding, and such varied activities as a trampoline, and an Oktoberfest celebration.

Attitash offers stunning views and unique activities throughout the year. It's no accident that Attitash is often ranked amongst the East's top ten ski resorts for snow, grooming, weather, dining, après ski, off-hill activities and family programs by readers of Ski Magazine.

Black Mountain
373 Black Mountain Rd.
Jackson, NH 03846
(603) 383-4490

With 45 trails, an elevation of 3,303 feet and a vertical drop of 1,100 feet, Black Mountain has trails for every type of skiers. Beginner and novice skiers are able to enjoy the gentler slopes, while experts can challenge themselves with the Upper Maple Slalom. Lifts available are triple chair, double hairs, platter pull, and J-Bar. In the warmer months, this resort offers horseback riding.

The Black Mountain Rental Shop is fully equipped with quality, well maintained and affordable equipment.

The Lostbo Pub affords views of the slopes and a varied menu.

Bretton Woods
Route 302
Bretton Woods, NH 03575
(603) 278-1000 or (800) 314-1752

Regularly voted "Top 5 in the East for Weather" by Ski Magazine, Bretton Woods is the state's largest ski area with 464 acres of skiing and snowboarding on 102 trails and glades, four terrain parks and including 30 acres of all-new backcountry glades! Nine lifts, including four high-speed quads, allow visitors high-tech transport up the mountain.

There is a nursery, ski-instruction for all ages, and snowmobile instruction for children.

The historic village of Bretton Woods within the town of Carroll is home to the world-famous resort of the same name. Bretton is a derivation of the word Breton, a region in France occupied by Celtic peoples. The advent of train travel in the late 1800's fostered the growth of Bretton Woods as a fashionable resort.

Bretton Woods thrives, offering skiing, and dog sled rides. Summer activities including golf and a zip-line tour above the forest. There are numerous dining choices year 'round.

Cannon Mountain
260 Tramway Drive
Franconia, NH 03580
(603) 823-8800   Snow Phone (603) 823-7771

With 95 trails and glades, a verticle drop of 2,180 feet, and serviced by 11 assorted lifts, state-owned Cannon Mountain ski area has a lot to offer. It is one of the oldest ski areas in America, and created the nation's first racing trail and North America's first aerial tramway. US Olympic gold medal winning skier Bode Miller grew up skiing at Cannon.

Located within Franconia Notch State Park, the ski area is just 2.5 all-highway hours from Boston (70 minutes from Concord, NH) and enjoys a plethora of nearby lodging and hospitality establishments (Franconia, Lincoln & Woodstock).

Cranmore Mountain
1 Skimobile Road
North Conway, NH 03860
(603) 356-5543

Cranmore Mountain is a year-round adventure park, located on Kearsage Road, just off route 16, just north of the Village of North Conway. This place has everything from aerial adventuring, a fully-equipped fitness center, and of course, skiing and snowboarding. They also offer an indoor activity area for the winter months, and when Mother Nature clashes with your schedule. The Mountain Coaster remains a thrill for all ages.

The history of Cranmore Mountain traces its roots to the first skiing instruction program in the United States. Insurance Executive Carroll Reed was injured in a skiing accident in 1934, and vowed to bring the European model of ski safety and instruction to the US. With the backing of North Conway native, Harvey Dow Gibson, and his deep pockets, the resort took shape.

The interest in ski instruction snowballed (I agree, a bad pun), and the winter of 1937-38 season saw Reed's vision come to life. The recently constructed Hotel Randall in North Conway became a sumptuous lodge with a small amount of construction for housing ski and trail maintenance equipment. Mount Cranmore had a sophisticated, international flavor, with Austrian ski instructors, and high-brow entertainment, such as classical music performances. The resort's "skimobile" was one of the first motorized ski lifts in the country.

By the 1950s, Cranmore had become famous for its resident international competitors who worked as instructors and advisors. The wide, well-groomed trails and stylish ambiance made it a fashionable destination for the well-heeled in politics, entertainment and the arts.

Today, Cranmore offers year-round, family activities. There are special ski passes that allow students enrolled New Hampshire colleges and universities to ski at Cranmore (and other area mountains) for a reduced rate.

Cranmore has a somewhat duel personality: super friendly to families, yet the history as a playground for the "jet set" lingers on.

Dartmouth Skiway
39 Grafton Turnpike
Lyme Center, NH 03769
(603) 795-2143

With more than 100 ski-able acres spread over two mountains, a 968-foot vertical drop, and a family-style atmosphere, this is a winner, close to I-89 and I-91. Dartmouth College runs this as an Ivy-League perk for students, however the general public can enjoy it, as well. Many champions have trained on these hills, so there are some challenging trails, not just the bunny slopes.

The McLane Family Lodge offers a place to warm up in Victorian grandeur, and serves as a wedding venue in the warmer months.

King Pine, Purity Spring Resort
1251 Eaton Road, Route 153
East Madison, NH 03849
(603) 367-8896

King Pine has 17 trails, 5 lifts for downhill skiers, the resort also offers sleigh rides, tubing and ice skating. There are 13 miles of trails.

The summer months transform the resort into a venue for weddings and family reunions. Summer guests have full use of all resort amenities, including waterskiing, sailing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, boating, daily activities, indoor pool, spa, and fitness room.

Traditions Restaurant is located in The Inn at King Pine offering a traditional dining room, as well as a pub for lighter meals.

Loon Mountain
60 Loon Mountain Road
Lincoln, NH 03251
(603) 745-8111 or (800)-229-LOON

Loon Mountain offers 49 trails, 6 tree skiing areas, 5 parks, superpipe, and halfpipe.

Services & amenities include:
Ski & Snowboard School
Children's Center
Cross-country skiing
Ice skating
Tubing center
Slope side spa
Summer offerings include New Hampshire's longest a scenic gondola, zip line and horseback riding.

Loon enjoys a great reputation, and many happy customers. They also offer many special events year 'round, including hosting NH's famous Highland Games. Their website is a bit confusing, seeming to advance a party image, rather than making useful information easy to find.

There are lessons for all age groups and ability levels, and equipment rentals. Loon is great choice for all skiers, and has enjoyed great popularity over the years.

Waterville Valley
Route 49, Valley Road
Waterville Valley, NH 03215

Right off I-93 between Lincoln to the North and Campton to the South, Waterville Valley is the "granddaddy" of White Mountain resort towns. From 1829-1967 it was just Waterville. The name was changed to Waterville Valley, and the town was promoted as a four season resort area. With 12 lifts, and a trail system with 52 trails, Waterville Valley is big, and offers instruction and recreation for all age4s and skill levels.

The years after World War II saw great expansion of the resort's amenities, and by the mid-1960s, it was a full-fledged icon of vacation destinations. The condos and vacation homes brought the expected amenities, thanks to large-scale development by the Waterville Company, Inc., established in 1965.

Lodging choices and dining within the resort are vast. You can also venture beyond the resort to nearby Thornton and Woodstock, both about 15 miles away.

Do you like to ski, skate, play hockey, golf, play tennis, fish, bike, or snowboard? Waterville Valley has all the facilities and/or resources you might ever need.

Whaleback Ski Area
160 Whaleback Mountain Road
Enfield, NH
(603) 448-1489

With 85 acres boasting 30 trails, Whaleback is a great spot for beginners to improve their skills, while more advanced friends and family can use the more challenging courses.

The former hometown ski area was revamped in 2004, and continues to improve. Directly off I-89, and nearby I-91, Whaleback is a good choice for commuters and families who went to spend more time skiing, and less time driving. And it's just 10 minutes to all of Lebanon's lodging and restaurants.

The pub has beer, food and a pool table. The pub can be rented for parties.

Whaleback offers a $15 Sunday morning pass - quite the bargain!

Wildcat Mountain
Route 16
Pinkham Notch, NH 03581
(888) SKI-WILD or (603) 466-3326

Wildcat is a great summer or winter destination. The summer offers a dramatic zip line rides, gondola excursions and Frisbee golf. The winter sees the large expanse of 47 ski trails. This is one of the biggest sightseeing surprises around, as you can look across Pinkham Notch to Tuckerman's Ravine and Mount Washington!

The history of Wildcat begins in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression. The Civilian Conservation Corp, part of the Works Progress Administration, began clearing the area to create a ski slope. This New Deal agency put many people back to work improving our parks, building dams and improving infrastructure. Wildcat's large snowfall and high slopes made it a great location - especially its exposure to the north. Less sun extends the ski season.

Gondolas were added in 1958, bringing Wildcat to the "A list" of ski destinations. (High speed gondolas replaced the originals in 1997.) Wildcat has a reputation as an "expert only" ski area, but that isn't true. There are trails for all skill levels, including the Polecat Trail, the longest ski trail in New Hampshire at 2.75 miles.

Cross country skiers need not feel neglected, as some of the most scenic trails in New England are available at Wildcat. Wildcat Valley Trail is over 17 miles long.

There is a cafeteria and a pub onsite for dining. Special services such as bag checking, babysitting, rentals and demonstration equipment and tuning are available. Lessons are available from the large Ski School.

For you trivia buffs, Wildcat has five summits... not just one.

RELATED ARTICLE: Northern NH's Little Ski Areas


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