The Ultimate Guide to Snowy Adventures in New England

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Watching the sunrise at the summit of Sugarloaf, in Maine. / Photo by James Walter/Sugarloaf

Where to Hit the Slopes

Ready to ride? Find the New England resort that suits your skiing style.

FOR THE…

Vail Expat
Spruce Peak, Vermont

Model your Moncler at this snow-globe-pretty Stowe resort owned by the Colorado-based developers behind America’s toniest ski town. Plush amenities include luxury lodging, a performing arts center for winter concerts, an invite-only speakeasy, and a posh spa where snow bunnies can indulge in cutting-edge cryotherapy treatments.

sprucepeak.com.

Don’t Ruin the Ride
Chairlift Etiquette 101GIVE A NOD, NOT A MONOLOGUE. You know what’s more awkward than riding in silence with a stranger for 10 minutes? Feigning invisibility. So go ahead: Smile! Say hi! Just don’t chat anyone’s cold ear off.

LOWER THE BAR. Be sure to announce your intentions before slamming down the safety bar, lest you smack someone’s helmet. But please do put it down. Don’t make your chair mate feel like a nervous chump for asking.

OFFER DIRECTION. To avoid an embarrassing collision, say which way you’re heading before you hop off. Not sure? Pull off to whatever side you’re already on, orient, and find your chosen trail.

BE CONSIDERATE. News flash for the family of four with an avalanche of gear: Stabbing your poles into the snow while you unload at the top is an easy way to hook your neighbor’s ski and trip everybody up. Hold them in one hand instead.

Adrenaline Junkie
Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire

Gold-medal Olympian Bode Miller sharpened his self-taught skills at Cannon, where the whipping winds of the White Mountains spur skiers down rugged backcountry, catapulting terrain parks, and some of New England’s toughest trails—such as the boulder-strewn DJ’s Tramline, perhaps the region’s steepest.

cannonmt.com.

Skier without a car
Wachusett Mountain, Massachusetts

You need to drive to most of New England’s bigger mountains—but rail-dependent city slickers, take note: On Saturdays and Sundays during ski season, the MBTA runs special commuter trains equipped with ski and snowboard racks between North Station and day-trip-friendly Wachusett.

wachusett.com.

Fresh powder at Killington Ski Resort. / Photo by Chandler Burgess

Party Animal
Killington Ski Resort, Vermont

Known as the “Beast of the East,” the right coast’s largest ski resort has a legendarily wild social scene. Your wolfpack can reserve the Motor Room Bar inside an actual chairlift terminal, or join the hordes at the three-floor Pickle Barrel and other boisterous bars lining the mountain’s access road.

killington.com.

Night Rider
Gunstock Mountain Resort, New Hampshire

There’s something magical about hitting Gunstock’s slopes at night, when sessions run as late as 9 p.m. on illuminated terrain that includes 22 ski trails, snowtubing, and a mountain roller coaster.

gunstock.com.

Naturalist
Mad River Glen, Vermont

It’s good vibes only at this ski-only, cooperative-owned mountain with a preservationist bent: As New England’s last bastion of natural-snow skiing, its 45 narrow (and challenging) trails boast limited grooming and are served by a single one-person chairlift.

madriverglen.com.

Late-Season Bloomer
Sugarloaf, Maine

Need a few runs under your legs before you’re ready for the big leagues? Northern Maine’s “King of Spring”—the only place for lift-serviced, above-tree-line skiing in the East—typically stays humming into May, and even hosts warmer-weather events like pond-skimming championships and a sunny Reggae Fest.

sugarloaf.com.


A different kind of thrill ride: surfing on the double barrel at Jay Peak Resort’s Pump House. / Photo by Justin Cash, courtesy of Jay Peak Resort

For the Non-Skier

You don’t have to be a slope hound to enjoy a good old-fashioned snow day.

Jay Peak, Vermont

Water Park

When the wee ones need a break from the winter chill, find year-round summer at this mountain resort’s 50,000-square-foot Pump House, with such splashy features as a 65-foot water slide, a tubing river, and indoor surfing—all under a retractable glass roof.

jaypeakresort.com.

Camden Snow Bowl, Maine

Toboggan Chute

The East Coast’s only ski center with ocean views is also home to the country’s last gravity-operated wooden toboggan chute. Competitors zoom down the ice-flooded, 400-foot trough during annual championships, but you can try it anytime for just five bucks an hour.

camdensnowbowl.com.

Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont

Airboarding

You’ll catch quite a breeze with this new, hard-to-find winter activity, which involves belly-flopping onto an inflatable raft, then sledding headfirst, boogie-board-style, down the side of a mountain.

smuggs.com.

Mad River Glen offers plenty of frozen fun. / Photo by Brooks Curran

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Ziplining

Get a bird’s-eye view of the Granite State’s largest ski area—a winter wonderland nestled in the middle of the White Mountains—by soaring over treetops on year-round canopy tours that’ll take you 165 feet above the forest floor.

brettonwoods.com.

Sunday River, Maine

Spa Treatments

Slip out of your boots and into a soft robe at Sunday River’s just-renovated Jordan Spa, which offers muscle-melting massages, windburn-alleviating facials, and rejuvenating body treatments, including a caffeine-infused caramel-coffee scrub.

sundayriver.com.

Waterville Valley Resort, New Hampshire

Mountain Biking

Growing in popularity, wide-tire fat bikes—available at Waterville’s Adventure Center—are designed to offer the mountain-biking experience even in winter. If you’d rather stay on foot, opt for snowshoes instead along the picturesque trails.

waterville.com.


A cozy night by the fire at the Common Man. / Photo courtesy of The Common Family in New Hampshire

The Après Scene

Need a break from the downhill action? Get nice and toasty at these ski-town hot spots.

When you’re at…

Sunday River, Maine
Try: Matterhorn Ski Bar

Wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas fuel skiers at this rocking chalet. While you’re there, join the perk-filled Mug Club, and add yours to the hundreds of sticker-covered steins hanging from overhead rafters.

matterhornskibar.com.

Sugarloaf, Maine
Try: The Rack

There’s a hint of sweetness to the beef brisket and pulled pork smoked with Maine sugar-maple wood at the Rack, a bumping bar and restaurant with billiards, live tunes, and kitschy décor.

therackbbq.com.

Spruce Peak, Vermont
Try: Doc Ponds

Take your pick of microbrews—including the elusive Hill Farmstead—at this casual sibling of Vermont’s acclaimed Hen of the Wood restaurants, festooned with colorful snowboards and soundtracked by a hundreds-strong library of vinyl records.

docponds.com.

Mad River Glen or Sugarbush Resort, Vermont
Try: Lawson’s Finest Liquids

This brewery’s taproom pours seasonal suds such as an imperial stout made with Vermont maple syrup—perfect for imbibing while bluegrass bands jam.

lawsonsfinest.com.

Okemo Mountain Resort, Vermont
Try: Stemwinder

Couples canoodle over uncorked bottles at this romantic tapas restaurant attached to a wine and cheese shop. It’s ideal for sharing charcuterie boards—and flirty glances—before heating things up back at the lodge.

stemwindervt.com.

Attitash Mountain Resort or Cranmore Mountain Resort, New Hampshire
Try: Delaney’s Hole in the Wall

Inconspicuous name aside, Delaney’s is a beloved haunt for downhillers at nearby Attitash and Cranmore resorts. They come for surprisingly delish sports-pub grub in a memorabilia-covered barroom and—believe it or not—an excellent sushi menu.

delaneys.com.

Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
Try: The Common Man

Families migrate from Loon to this cozy spot for its hearty comfort food and living-room-like tavern, the perfect place to unwind with parlor games by a roaring fireplace.

thecman.com.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/travel/2019/12/10/new-england-winter-activities/