Central New Hampshire Ski Guide

January 14, 2009

By: Byron Mackelroy

Hitting the slopes

Hitting the slopes

New Hampshire has a rich history of downhill skiing.  These days, the Granite State hosts some of the best ski areas in New England.  Just a short drive up I-93 from Boston, central New Hampshire and the White Mountains offer a wide variety of terrain for all types of skiers and snow boarders.  Here is a quick guide to three great ski resorts for a fun winter getaway.

Loon Mountain
With three detachable quads, one four-passenger gondola and a combined total of twelve serviceable ski lifts, Loon Mountain Ski Resort sees more visitors than any other resort in New Hampshire.  While the mountain hosts a large number of skiers, is has more than enough terrain to disperse the crowds.  At nearly 3,070 feet tall, Loon Mountain has over 50 trails with 324 acres of skiing terrain.

This ski resort truly has something for everybody.  The Loon Terrain Park offers freestyle jumps, slide rails and half pipes if the kids want to practice their tricks.  There is a decent variety of beginner trails with names like Snubber, Little Sister and The Link.  For the true beginners check out Sarsaparilla with its carpet lift.  When it comes to experts, Loon is a real treat.  On powder days, you might want to think twice about going to the office and head up to Loon Mountain instead.  The entire North Peak offers superb expert trails with great vertical and a skier’s choice of mogul runs.  Once you get to North Peak, stick to the North Peak Express Quad and you are sure to get enough runs under your belt to last you a long time.  After a day of fun, be sure to visit the Common Man Restaurant in Lincoln for some wholesome food and a great après ski atmosphere.

Waterville Valley

Situated on Mount Tecumseh in the White Mountains, Waterville Valley Ski Resort offers an astounding 2,020 foot vertical drop.  If you are looking for long runs and you don’t mind a decent incline, then Waterville is the mountain for you.  While the surrounding town is quieter than Loon, the mountain generally has fewer skiers clogging up the excellent variety of trails.  The valley run with its detachable quad offers a challenging day of fun for any beginner.  With most trails classified as blue squares, intermediate skiers will have full range of the mountain.  For the experts out there, the great vertical drop makes most of the intermediate runs quite enjoyable and on good powder days, the Sunnyside Lift offers access to some of the best expert terrain in the state.

Gunstock Ski Area

Gunstock is a great choice for anybody who enjoys a relaxed mountain with great views.  The Gunstock Ski Area is perched on the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee.  With fantastic panoramic views of the lake, a decent variety of runs and more affordable tickets, Gunstock is a great choice for a quick day trip to hit the slopes.  For anybody traveling with kids, the Gunstock Ski School is one of the best in the business.  If you live anywhere near this mountain be sure to consider it if you want to get your kids ready for the bigger slopes.

The Gunstock Ski Area is a short drive from the rest of the Lakes Region and I-93.  If you are planning a weekend, look into a New Hampshire hotel near Winnipesaukee so that after skiing you can hit the hot tub relax for a bit and then head out to one of the lakeside towns for a quaint dinner and a movie.  Enjoying the greater lakes region area definitely adds value to a Gunstock Getaway.


A New Hampshire Wedding

November 10, 2008

My brother just got married. Growing up, the thought of marriage always seemed so far off in the distance. As kids we had bigger fish to fry, like raking up a giant piles of leaves and jumping into them over and over again. We grew up in New Hampshire.

Between my brother and a few of my best friends getting married in recent years, I have had the chance to go home and visit. I couldn’t imagine a better setting to make a commitment to the one you love. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I decided to put together a list of the top 5 things that make New Hampshire the best place to get married. Let me make a case for my home state…

1. Views: I grew up on a mountain in the Belknap range overlooking Lake Winnisquam and Lake Winnipesaukee. There are only a few things in life that we don’t take for granted after a long time. The view of rolling green mountains and the stretching lakes has never ceased to amaze me. Naturally my brother chose to get married in the Lakes Region area. His wedding venue was a resort perched up on a small mountain with a panoramic view for miles around. This area has to be the absolute best location for a scenic New Hampshire Wedding.

2. Unique Venues: New Hampshire is home to a variety of settings and unique locations for weddings. From the seashore and mountains to the small lakeside resort towns like Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, the state has a range of settings to host your dream wedding.

3. Foliage: Anyone who lives in New England already knows that between Vermont and New Hampshire we have the best foliage season in the country. After living on the west coast for a while, I began to appreciate all those blazing reds and bright yellows that seemed to carpet the woodlands through out New Hampshire. If anyone even considers a New Hampshire wedding, I strongly suggest getting married in the fall. Your wedding pictures alone will make your friends jealous.

4. Nature: I have lived in cities for going on 9 years now. When I decide to get married it will be out in the country away from the noise and the smog. Having spent many days out on the lakes and in the mountains, I am thankful for having that foundation. True nature is in it’s own right religious. A background of birds and trees beats horns and sirens any day for me.

5. History: Weddings are ceremonies that date back to the ages. They are a product of history. Historic settings lend themselves well to marriage and New Hampshire is not lacking. If a historic setting is important to you, I recommend checking out a location like the Mount Washington Hotel. This grand old hotel was host to world conferences where presidents like Roosevelt would make international treaties in the latter days of world war two.

If you are going to tie the knot and live in New England, I highly recommend checking out one of the many scenic venues in New Hampshire. With almost certainty I can tell you that you won’t be let down and you will remember the moment for the rest of your life. Like I said, all the pretty pictures won’t hurt either.

Escape! Travel to New Hampshire

November 10, 2008

lake-foliage1No matter how much you claim to love living in the city, I’m sure you’re often tempted to hit the road and disappear into the wilderness. I know I am. I sometimes question my inability to fall asleep without a subway train rumbling by.

I recently followed one of my escapist temptations and steered my VW Bug toward New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. I attempted to travel light, but after a bit of research, I found my car quite stocked:

1. Fishing Rods (there was a bass out there with my name on it).
2. 1 Tent (I actually booked a New Hampshire Hotel Room, but felt as if the trip deserved a tent)
3. Costco-sized bag of Trail Mix (aprox. 10 lbs.)
4. Extra Fluffy Down Pillows
5. A laptop with EVDO broadband card (we all gotta stay connected somehow)
6. A hammock I picked up on the way out
7. My flatmate Alan (aprox. 245 lbs)
8. A suitcase filled with clothing and a wool jacket.
9. Hiking boots
8. Alan’s stuff (mostly consisted of two thirty racks of beer)

We filled the silence of the five hour drive with Bruce Springsteen’s greatest hits. You know you’ve crossed over to the Granite State’s highways when they become lined with a surplus of gun shops and discount liquor stores. More blatant were the thousand or so bikers that cut past us on Route 93.

They growled by on packs of silver and black Harleys; I imagined them off to some grass-and-dirt battlefield to clash with a rival gang. Turns out it was Laconia Motorcycle Week, an annual June rally for the displaying of bikes and girls and the consuming of copious amounts of beer. Alan wanted to go, but I decided against it.

Just as the sun dipped below the horizon we arrived at beautiful Steele Hill Resorts, set amongst 500 acres of unspoiled fields and hardwood forests, and perched proudly on top of New Hampshire’s lakes Region. We were hungry from traveling, and were provided a fantastic meal in Steele Hill’s restaurant which offered stunning views of Lake Winnipesaukee and Lake Winnisquaum.

I lay awake that night, amazed at how quiet the world was outside of the city. A symphony of crickets had replaced the subway trains and drunk revelers. I fell asleep well-traveled and ready to catch my bass in the morning.