Local Ski Experts Give the Scoop on Trails to Try This Winter in NH
Hear that? It’s the sweet sound of skis carving on a freshly groomed trail, the spray of powder kicking up and lifts humming with eager skiers. Yes, it’s ski season in New Hampshire! A time for beginners, intermediates and experienced skiers alike to live free and find their groove on the Granite State slopes. Not crazy about crowds? Want to get great exercise in a serene natural setting? Cross country skiing in New Hampshire may be your winter vacation calling. But whether you opt for alpine adventures or cross country outings, here are 10 New Hampshire trails recommended by local ski experts you will love spending time on this winter.
Tyler Walker, World Champion Mono Skier and Paralympian
Paula Tracy, Veteran New Hampshire Outdoor Reporter
Sue Wemyss, Olympian and Great Glen Trails Ski School Director
2. Vista Way, Cannon Mountain
1. Taft Slalom, Cannon Mountain
This historic alpine trail was carved into Cannon Mountain back in 1932 and has been bringing unparalleled winter joy ever since. “This one’s my all-time favorite place to ski, without a doubt,” says New Hampshire native, Tyler Walker. From the top of Cannon Mountain, he suggests taking the Taft Slalom down the ridge toward the saddle between Cannon and Mittersill. “Finding a glade somewhere and stopping to take it all in is a uniquely serene experience.”
Few know the scope of New Hampshire slopes better than seasoned skier Paula Tracy. And this Concord native names Vista Way as an “absolute favorite.” What does she love about it? The stunning views, for starters, citing the breathtaking experience of being eye-level with summit of Mount Lafayette—one of the state’s famed 4,000-footers. The trail’s cool terrain has captured her heart too. “It starts out narrow and flat and then opens up and drops down below the tramway…gives me shivers just thinking about it,” she says.
3. Polecat, Wildcat Mountain
With gorgeous views of Mount Washington and the northern Presidential Range, Polecat comes in a close second for Tracy. It’s also one of the longest novice trails—we all want those runs to last, don’t we? “That location tends to get a nice little powder dump too,” Tracy adds. A welcome bonus, courtesy of New Hampshire’s Mother Nature.
4. Green Peak, Waterville Valley
Ok, so it's technically more than one trail. But Tracy has this 10-trail, 45-acre expansion at Waterville Valley on her list for a reason. It has a little bit of everything including beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain.
5. Rosebrook Glades, Bretton Woods, Bretton Woods
If you’re a fan of gliding through glades, Bretton Woods is your best bet. “It’s such an enchanting run. It’s a hybrid forest trail, with a grade that’s not too steep, but just right for skiing among the trees through natural-fallen snow. There’s something about it—almost feels like you’re floating. I even came across a porcupine there once!” says Tracy.
6. Hardscrabble, Cannon Mountain
Cannon takes the cake again with Hardscrabble. What’s so great about it? It’s an amazing open trail with lots of snow. It’s got some serious character too, and has been delighting skiers for decades (75 years to be exact!) “It’s an all-natural snow trail that includes a little uphill run out at the bottom that you have to tuck to get up,” Tracy explains.
7. Puff Trail, Pat’s Peak, Henniker, NH
Pat’s Peak is the place to be if you’re just starting to ski. In fact, it’s where Tracy’s Division I collegiate-skiing daughter learned to ski! She likes it for its great family feel, solid Learn-to-Ski program packed with knowledgeable instructors, and an entirely separate area for beginners to focus on the basics. And the Puff Trail is one of the most gentle and fun to ski trails there!
8. Dragon Corridor, Great Glen Trails
Not all the New Hampshire skiing fun is had up on the alpine trails. Cross country skiing—aka Nordic skiing—has deep roots in the state, and for good reason. So let’s explore a few, shall we? World-class cross country skier and Olympian Sue Wemyss admits she may be a little biased on this one (she’s Great Glen Trails’ Ski School Director)...but we’ve got to agree with her when it comes to this cross country trail due to its varied terrain and potential for developing speed. “It’s really fun with its twists and turns. It’s a two-way trail but my favorite direction to ski it is to go from the far point, up near the warming cabin, and move toward the base lodge, because you’re maximizing the downhills, starting with a couple big corners to go around. Those are followed by some fairly gentle climbing to break things up, finishing with a nice fast downhill shot to the flats before coming out into the meadow with its incredible views of the surrounding mountains,” says Wemyss. Great Glen is known for its excellent grooming, providing a snow surface that can make any skier a “hero” on the trails!
9. The Wave, Jackson Ski Touring Foundation
The Wave is a delightful, forested and scenic cross country skiing trail at Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, a nonprofit that USA Today readers voted among the Top 10 Cross Country Ski Areas in the U.S. Although it isn’t on her “turf,” Wemyss highly recommends it. “It rolls, has great curves and turns, and you get some good speed through it,” she says. And if you care about quality, you’ll love the state-of-the-art grooming and maintenance on The Wave trail (which is actually the case at all of Jackson’s recently expanded phenomenal network of trails!)
10. Abenaki Crossing, Bretton Woods
If you’re looking for a cross country trail that’s green and serene, take Abenaki Crossing to Upper B & M in Bretton Woods. “It’s not high speed. It’s mellow, out of the way and beautiful—paralleling a small river. Sometimes you can see wildlife tracks from animals, such as snowshoe hare,” says Wemyss. “When the snow coats the trees it’s such an idyllic scene.”
Covid-19 Skiing Update: Ski areas are open with safety precautions in an effort to protect employees and guests. All guests are encouraged to take the following steps when planning to visit a resort this winter. Additional travel tips for visiting a New Hampshire resort this winter can be found here.
- Buy tickets and passes online before you leave home
- Only bring what you need while on the trails (lodges are limiting visitor capacity and time spent inside buildings, so bootbags and other belongings should be left in your car)
- Cloth face coverings are required while inside any ski area lodge or building, and outside while waiting in lines, on chair lifts, or any other public location where social distancing is difficult
- Practice social distancing on the trails and inside lodge buildings
- Stay home if you are feeling sick
- Plan ahead: be sure to call or check the website of the ski area you plan to visit so you’re aware of their guidelines.
Full guidance is here.