Top Five Places to Ski Right Now
Photo by JStrathern/Instagram
It’s nearly mid-December and we've barely gotten a few dustings of snow, which means that as we dream of a white Christmas, snow sports fanatics are likely awaiting a white something, and something soon. But with manmade snow on some slopes, ski season has officially commenced, though more so in neighboring New Hampshire than in Massachusetts. For those itching to hit the slopes before the holidays, the following ski areas are currently open or opening this week, and are some of the highest rated spots within close proximity to the city.
Pats Peak (1 hour, 30 minutes away)
Set to reopen this Friday, December 14, Pat’s Peak has often been considered one of the best ski areas for families. Though it is quite small, it offers most of the same amenities as do larger resorts (lessons, ski shop, cafeterias, reliable lifts, etc.) With about half of the mountain consisting of novice trails, the place is perfect for kids and beginners, but of course there are plenty of challenging intermediate and advanced trails for the more experienced daredevils. What’s more – in the event of a snow shortage, 100 percent of the peak’s terrain can and will be covered with manmade snow.
Opens Dec. 14, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., lift tickets $36-60, 24 Flanders Road, Henniker, NH, 603-428-3245, patspeak.com
Mount Sunapee (1 hour, 50 minutes away)
With 11 trails and 42 acres of terrain open and current temperature of 29 degrees with 18” of snow, guests at Sunapee can now take advantage of all three quad lifts, a terrain park on South Peak, and a $29 beginner’s package until December 20. The mountain also offers lesson packages for kids, adults, and families, lodging and dining, rental equipment, a sports shop, and mostly intermediate trails (with some novice and advanced). Though it’s nearly two hours outside of Boston, Sunapee is one of the few mountains with more than a handful of trails open to the public right now.
Open now, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends and holidays, lift tickets $23-200, 1398 Route 103, Newbury, NH, 603-763-3500, mountsunapee.com
Wachusett Mountain (1 hour, 20 minutes away)
You may know it simply from its catchy theme song: “W-W-Wachusett” Mountain. This well-known ski and ride spot currently has four trails open and is generating snow whenever the temperatures permit it. In addition to reasonably priced lessons, a fairly even percentage of novice, intermediate, and advanced trails, and a 2,006-foot elevation with a 1,000-foot vertical drop, Wachusett offers fun activities like a Shortest Day of the Year Celebration (featuring special discounts and other perks) and its New Year’s Eve party, keeping its slopes open until midnight. Live performances by singer Glenn Stewart and magician Eddie Raymond, fireworks, and a balloon drop will also take place before the mountain rings in 2013.
Open now, weekdays 9 a.m.-10 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m.-10 p.m., lift tickets $15-58, 499 Mountain Road, Princeton, MA, 978-464-5101, wachusett.com
Gunstock (2 hours away)
Yet another New Hampshire ski gem, Gunstock is equipped with some of the most scenic trails (though few are novice level) and also features snow tubing and a canopy zip line more than 1.5 miles long (the longest in the continental U.S.) in addition to skiing and riding. Of course, at Gunstock, there’s also a base camp children’s center, lessons for all ages, rentals, shopping, dining, and the works. This week, take advantage of Learn-to-Ski-Free deals and enjoy night skiing beginning on December 14.
Open now, Mondays 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesdays-Thursdays 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturdays 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sundays 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., lift tickets $30-168, 719 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford, NH, 603-293-4341, gunstock.com
Crotched Mountain (1 hour, 45 minutes away)
Crotched Mountain reopens tomorrow for the winter season. One of the most fun features of this ski area is its Midnight Madness hours (Fridays and Saturdays, 9 p.m.-3 a.m.) during which night skiing fans can enjoy some of the most peaceful trips down the mountain. Crotched also offers a freestyle program, an adult race league, kids programs, and a retail shop, among other amenities. If you’re up for trekking a short distance to NH this week or weekend (as we await more snow and colder temps in the mountains of western Mass.), Crotched could make for an excellent choice.
Opens Dec. 12, Mondays-Saturdays 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sundays 9 a.m.-5 p.m., lift tickets $28-59, 615 Francestown Road, Bennington, NH, 603-588-3668, crotchedmountain.com