Ah, New England. While it’s not the Swiss Alps, New England offers a wide range of quality winter sports options near Boston. While it’s only a 30 minute drive from the city to Blue Hills in Canton, slightly longer drives can bring you to larger, colder and snowier mountains and resorts. But where are the best places to go?
Truth is, it’s hard to say. Not just because there are so many options, but also because personally, I am new to Boston and have been trying to answer that question for myself. But there are plenty of places that have caught my eye that I’m dying to try. I’ll list a few of them here, but what I am really looking for is feedback: where do other Ridj-iteers love to ski?
Below are a list of places nearby that I’ve read about, and am excited to try!
Beyond the cool name of this place, I’ve just heard great things about this ski area. With a total of only 5 lifts, it seems small, but Wildcat actually boasts 39 trails serviced by those lifts. That’s just a feat of engineering and planning if you ask me, and I am dying to see just how they pulled that off. I am also pleased with the distribution of trails: Wildcat caters best to mid-level skiers, but has plenty of trail options for beginners and advanced or mid-advanced skiers like myself. Best of all, over half of the Wildcat trails are ungroomed - a practical paradise for anyone who loves free skiing. Maybe that’s where Wildcat got its name, because it’s mostly wild?
I am fascinated by Bretton Woods for many of the same reasons as I am Wildcat. Bretton Woods is definitely bigger: 10 lifts supporting 97 trails… I repeat 97 trails!! Beginners at Bretton Woods should absolutely stick to the Mt. Rosebrook, West Mountain, and the groomed parts of Mt. Stickeny. The areas known as The Glades are ungroomed and only for experienced skiers… and they generally make my mouth water.
Loon Mountain is by far one of the most family-friendly or group-friendly mountains I’ve researched in the area. With 12 lifts servicing 61 trails, the level of accessibility makes the mountain ideal for groups of people with different proficiency levels (i.e. no one is literally dragging novices along, and no one has to step out of their skis and walk to get to the lifts). There are even designated family ski areas. That said, there are relatively few green-level trails: the mountain is predominantly blue-level. However, these “blue” runs are generally wide and well-groomed, making them much easier for novice skiers to handle as long as they know how to brake well. For more advanced skiers this type of mountain, with perfect Loon weather, is ideal for a day of cruising.
4. Black Mountain
Black Mountain is a classic ski resort perfect for anyone looking for that small, authentic skiing experience. The way it is set up, it’s perfect for a single day of skiing, but you might get bored if you tried to do a whole weekend there. It’s also not ideal for beginners. There are only 18 green-level slopes, compared to 21 slopes at black-level or higher, with the number of blue-level runs falling somewhere in between. Also, there are only 5 lifts, and while I’m amazed that they could cover so many trails with so few lifts, at least 2 of them are rope or J-lifts. The top of Black Mountain is exclusively black-level runs, which may very well be where the mountain got its name, but it means that for the majority of the season, the advanced runs are the only ones cold and snowy enough to ski on.
Gunstock is a mid-sized ski area boasting 7 lifts and 54 trails. It’s a family-friendly resort, with several options for beginner skiers and many, many options for intermediates. Advanced skiers also have trails to run as well, most of the time. For right now, only 4 of the 15 black-level runs are open (compared to 6 out of the 8 green-level) which to me says that they don’t make advanced skiers a priority. Gunstock’s night-skiing events are definitely a redeeming factor, as night-skiing is both a lot of fun and always a great deal with reduced prices on lift tickets.
McIntyre makes this list primarily because it is a great place for party skiing. If you have a large group of people, this is the place to go. It’s small, but from what I can tell, they make a lot happen in a little space. There are only 9 runs, with exactly 0 black-level runs, but this actually makes the place ideal (read: safe) for night-skiing events. I can also see where by day this place would be great for families with small children who are just learning how to ski: no chance that the kids will get cocky (as child-skiers are wont to do) and go flying down a black-run, causing both their parents and everyone else on that mountain to suffer massive heart attacks (the parents out of fear, the rest… primarily out of shame…). All in all, I can see where McIntyre would be a good time.