Traveling Stress-Free With Your Skis or Snowboards

Planning a ski and snowboard vacation that requires flying can be just as daunting as it is exciting. How do you get all your beloved (and expensive) gear out there with you? Traveling with your gear is easier, and less nerve-wracking, than you might think.

Airline Policies

First, find out your airline’s specific policy on checking skis/boards which should be available on their website. Many airlines treat ski gear the same as regular checked luggage regardless of the longer dimension, although standard weight restrictions will apply. Typically, skis and boots are considered one checked item, even if they are in separate bags. Again, check with the airline you’re flying on for their exact rules and if you have any doubts, give the airline a call.

Credit: Sarah Quandt
Credit: Sarah Quandt



Invest in a good bag or hard shell case for your skis or snowboard. It may be the biggest cost up front, but you’ll spend more to fix or replace damaged equipment. Look for ski/board bags that are padded, sturdy, has wheels, and is larger than your gear (I use a 156 cm bag for my 144 cm board). Some bags might have room for extra gear and clothing, as well as boots. If not, pack those in a separate boot bag.


Pro Tip: Make your luggage recognizable with duct tape, stickers, patches, or ribbon. If you have the same bag as another person, it will be easier for everyone to make sure they go home with the right gear.

Packing Tips

Look up suggested ski packing lists and create a thorough one for yourself. Use packing cubes, stuff sacks, or compression bags to keep items organized and separated; You can then use them for dirty laundry.

Credit: Sarah Quandt
Credit: Sarah Quandt


Begin by strapping each brake down to keep the bindings compact and make packing around them easier. Use a thick rubber band or gear tie and be sure to position it over the top of the binding, not around the ski which would create pressure on the ski’s edges.­ If you have a bag or case with room for additional gear, separate the skis in the bag to better distribute weight. Strap a pole to each ski so they don’t interfere with other items and cover the tips (wine corks work great).


Remove the bindings from the board to avoid damage while getting jostled around by handlers and in flight. Use a crayon to mark where your bindings are located before removal. It’ll stay put while traveling and riding, but can easily be removed with the rough side of a sponge or finger nail. This will make set up a breeze. Pack the binding hardware and a tool or screwdriver in a zip-lock bag.

Credit: Sarah Quandt
Credit: Sarah Quandt


While it may seem like a great idea to stuff your helmet in a checked bag and not drag it through airports, it’s recommended to carry it on the airplane with you. Although helmets are designed to withstand multiple minor bumps, they should only take one major hit and you don’t want that to be from a turbulent flight or rough baggage handling.


People are pretty divided on whether to carry-on or check boots. Carrying on can help reduce the weight of your checked luggage and ensure your boots make it to the mountain with you. However, boots are heavy, awkward, and can be a hassle in narrow airplane aisles and during layovers. Either way, stuff your boots with smaller items like socks, neck gaiters, hats and hand warmers to avoid wasted space. Sprinkle in a little baking soda or throw in a dryer sheet to keep things fresh.

Credit: Sarah Quandt
Credit: Sarah Quandt

Ski Clothes

It’s tempting to wear all your layers up on the plane in an effort to save space in your luggage…which isn’t a terrible idea if you have a short flight. But you shouldn’t need to wash all your gear by the time you land because you sweat through it already. Take one jacket on the flight, preferably a puffer since it can double as a pillow. If you choose to wear winter boots onboard, bring a pair of light slip-ons to switch into on the plane and while trekking between gates on a layover.

Street Clothes

Resist the urge to pack the same amount of street clothes you would for a non-ski trip. You’ll be spending most of your time on the slopes and in many mountain towns, ski clothes double as street threads. Remember non-ski socks and gloves, sunglasses and a swimsuit if you’ll have access to a pool or hot tub.

EMS -Winter Ski Mistaya Lodge -3760

Additional Recommendations

  • Book flights with layovers of at least one hour to give your skis/snowboard a better chance of arriving at your destination the same time you do.
  • If driving with others to the airport, have the driver drop-off all the gear and passengers at the airline’s designated entrance. The driver can then park the car and walk in bag-free. This also works on the return trip.
  • When you land at your destination and head to baggage claim, don’t panic if you don’t see your skis/boards on the carousel assigned to your flight. Most airports have a separate claim area for large and oversized baggage.
  • Research local ski shops and bookmark one or two in case you do forget something or need a tune-up or repair.
  • Worried the groomer skis you brought aren’t going to fare well after a dump fresh snow? Consider renting skis for the biggest powder day. Costs for a one-day ski rental are reasonable, and could make the difference between an okay and epic day. Be sure to get to the shop early or even the night before; They’ll be busy!
  • If you’re skiing more than a few days consider waxing your skis/board once during the trip, especially if there’s fresh snow.

Shipping Gear

An alternative to checking gear is to ship it to your destination ahead of time. Check with the resort or your accommodations to see if and how to ship it to them. You won’t need to haul your hard goods to and from the airport, but shipping gear is generally more expensive than checking it.

Visit your local ski shop and ask if they have any extra ski/board boxes you can snag. Have a backup plan if you make to the mountain before your skis do or your pickup location is closed because your flight was delayed and you got in late. Make arrangements or set aside time on your trip to ship the skis back before leaving. 


Don’t let the thought of flying with ski gear overwhelm you. Remember all options require some money, time and effort—whether it’s packing and checking luggage, shipping and picking up gear or visiting a shop to rent skis. But none have to be a hassle with a little planning.

The Top 6 Splitboarding Locations in the Northeast

While splitboarding does have many similarities to backcountry skiing, there are some subtle but important differences in the locations where participants prefer to “earn their turns.” First, when in touring mode, one is essentially skiing on two very large, heavy, and awkwardly shaped “skis.” This is simply a snowboard cut down the middle into two halves. Also making an approach more challenging are snowboard-style bindings and boots and the fact that many snowboarders have never skied.

While backcountry skiers often have no issue with rolling up and down hills or navigating tight icy turns on the way to a climb, many splitboarders prefer an approach that is relatively flat or continuously uphill. Secondly, splitboarders desire the same consistency, albeit in reverse, on their descents. While backcountry skiers can climb a short stretch of flats or rise in the middle of their descent, for a snowboarder, this means getting off your board to skate or carry it. Or, worse, you convert back to touring mode before another conversion to descend again.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn to skin at the resort, or a die-hard extremist seeking out that adrenaline rush, the Northeast does have some fantastic places to splitboard.

Courtesy: Magic Mountain
Courtesy: Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain, Vermont

A great way to get the hang of skinning and transitions as a beginner, or to just get some laps in, is to tour on resort trails. More and more resorts that used to frown on uphill travel are introducing policies that allow for such use during certain times, on certain trails, or with the purchase of an uphill pass. Magic, however, takes it a step further. Not only do they encourage uphill travel and riding anytime, anywhere, but they also celebrate it.

Use your own power to climb to the summit for a run. Or, stop to see a summit lift attendant, and they will give you a token to take one lift-serviced run on the house! Doing three or four laps with the skins gets you three or four runs on the lift and spells a free day of riding on a neat little mountain. All they ask is you consider grabbing a burger or beer at the lodge as a thank you! Find Magic off VT 11 just down the road from Bromley Mountain, right outside of Londonderry.

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns

Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, New York

If you’re looking to get laps on the resort trails, here, you will have to stick to dawn patrol—only permitted with an uphill pass and outside of operating hours. However, the toll road, which runs up the mountain’s backside, is a local favorite for touring. Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway typically is the first “ski” of the early season and provides a gentle cruise down. For more advanced riders, the toll road can also provide access to the mountain’s many backcountry slides. Find the parking lot by the toll house a few miles from Wilmington, New York, just past the intersection with Gillespie Drive.

Courtesy: Jay Peak
Courtesy: Jay Peak

Jay Peak, Vermont

Offering what most consider some of the Northeast’s best snow and glades, Jay also has some backcountry attractions for splitboarders. Nearby Big Jay and Little Jay mountains offer some expert riding terrain, including the famous East Face of Big Jay. These glades and chutes are accessible via a ridge trail from the resort or a skin up starting on logging roads from Route 242. Be warned, though. This is a remote and challenging area, and you should be prepared, as always, for the unexpected. If you have the backcountry skills and the legendary Jay snow comes through, this can make for an epic tour.

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns

Wright Peak, New York

One of the more popular locations for Adirondack backcountry, Wright Peak offers two primary options. The Wright Ski Trail offers a classic Northeast run linked with hiking trails and other backcountry ski runs. Alternatively, the Angel Slides offer some steeper and more challenging terrain, but must be approached with proper awareness of avalanche conditions and safety. Access to the Wright Ski Trail is off the trail to Algonquin Peak, starting from the Adirondack Loj. The Angel Slides involve a bushwhack approach, leaving trails from the camping areas around Marcy Dam.

Credit: Jim Kelly
Credit: Jim Kelly

Mount Washington, New Hampshire

The many ravines, gullies, and gulfs of the Northeast’s largest peak have long been a mecca for backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Certainly the East Coast’s most celebrated center of backcountry, the famous Tuckerman Ravine area sees hordes of visitors and offers dozens of possible lines. From Pinkham Notch, plan on climbing for two to three hours up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the main bowl. Most paths down the headwall are expert runs, which sometimes approach 45- to 50-degree angles and may include icefall, cliffs, and crevasses. For a slightly easier run, explore Left and Right Gullies. When you have had enough, the Shelburne Ski Trail offers a fun ride back down.

While the party at Tucks is certainly worth the hype, the “Rockpile” has countless other treasures. For another open bowl with that larger West Coast mountain feel, head to the nearby Gulf of Slides. Starting from the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, the Gulf of Slides Trail climbs moderately for 2.5 miles to the base of several large gullies up the ridge between Boott Spur and Slide Peak.

Credit: Lucas LaBarre
Credit: Lucas LaBarre

Mount Greylock, Massachusetts

The highest point in Massachusetts is also home to the legendary Thunderbolt Ski Trail. Starting at a parking area on Thiel Road just outside of North Adams, the Thunderbolt climbs over 2,000 feet to get close to Mount Greylock’s summit. This trail was home to many classic downhill races, and in the present, local groups keep this backcountry must-do in great shape. It is steep in sections and definitely an expert run. On a cold day, climb the extra few hundred feet from the top of the ski trail, using the Appalachian Trail, to the summit, where you can warm up in a large stone hut equipped with a wood stove.

The Crux: The NE 115's Toughest Winter Climbs

Climbing all of the Northeast’s 115 4,000-footers is a serious challenge on its own, even for the region’s most experienced hikers. But, how can you take it to the extreme? Simple: Do them all in winter. Joining that elite (and very short) list of hardy hikers requires a special skill set, gear closet, and determination that many lack. Depending on the weather, trail conditions, and other factors, any of these peaks can be perilous to climb in winter. So, here are a few of the biggest challenges, and some tips to make it to the top.

Credit: Lucas LaBarre
Credit: Lucas LaBarre


Baxter State Park, Maine

Katahdin is a steep granite cirque in Maine’s Baxter State Park that includes a few different summits, the highest of which is Baxter Peak. Tagging Maine’s highest peak in winter means slogging through a grueling two-day, 13-mile approach across the park’s closed access roads (typically with expedition sleds) to Roaring Brook, and then another 3.3 miles uphill to Chimney Pond. Be prepared for consistent sub-zero temperatures and frequent avalanche danger.

To increase your chance of success, plan early to obtain reservations at the bunkhouses in Roaring Brook and Chimney Pond, rather than tenting. Have a strong group, and give yourself enough time in the park to wait for a favorable weather window to attack the summit. Use the Saddle Trail or the more challenging Cathedral Trail to ascend from Chimney Pond. If your endurance and the weather allow you to summit, you will reach one of the East Coast’s most beautiful mountains.

Courtesy: Matt's Hikes
Courtesy: Matt’s Hikes

Mount Redington

Carrabassett Valley, Maine

Home to one of the least-traveled of the Northeast’s unmarked trails, Redington is a difficult enough climb in the summer. While not especially challenging in terms of bushwhacking, reaching the summit involves a few key unmarked turns and forks on old logging roads. In the winter, you should bring a GPS or a friend who has climbed it before.

The closure of Caribou Valley Road to cars in winter means you should either ski to the crossing of the Appalachian Trail or start where the AT meets Route 16. Either way, you will travel the AT to South Crocker Mountain before beginning the 1.2-mile unmarked trek off the AT to Redington’s summit. Read the stretch’s description carefully in the AMC’s Maine Mountain Guide. To make sure you have arrived, look for an old white canister strapped to a tree on the summit.

Trail signs on the top of Mount Adams. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Trail signs on the top of Mount Adams. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

Mount Adams

White Mountains, New Hampshire

While Mount Washington is the King of the Presidential Range and home to some of the nation’s worst weather, its neighbor to the north, Mount Adams, is another worthy challenge. And, in winter, climbing the exposed summit requires the same precautions and gear. You will ascend nearly 4,500 feet, with almost 1,000 feet of that above treeline. Climb the steeper Air Line Trail from the AT in order to take in the majestic views of King Ravine. Then, descend using the easier Valley Way Trail.

Courtesy: Wayfarer
Courtesy: Wayfarer

Owl’s Head Mountain

White Mountains, New Hampshire

A trip to this peak involves over 18 miles of travel. This trek may include sometimes-dangerous water crossings, unmarked bushwhack approaches, and a slide climb, so make sure river conditions are good and you’re comfortable on steep and icy terrain. Many prefer to utilize the Black Pond bushwhack route on their approach. Be sure to proceed the additional 0.2 miles north from the old summit clearing to the new summit proper to make it official.

The one saving grace here is the flat and very well maintained (but rather boring) 2.6-mile section of the Lincoln Woods Trail. You’ll pass through when you start and finish your journey from the trailhead at the Lincoln Woods Visitor Information Center. Overall, Owl’s Head has a very remote wilderness feel to it that makes the long day worthwhile.


Allen Mountain

Adirondack Mountains, New York

Allen offers a little bit of everything. There are several river crossings, winding meadows, woods climbing opportunities, and a steep slide climb finale. Due to its roughly 18-mile round-trip distance, it’s sometimes confusing to approach. As well, because of the deep snow often faced on Allen Brook’s final, very steep slabs, this one can be challenging. Luckily, the DEC recently replaced a long-destroyed bridge over the Opalescent River, alleviating a fording concern.

In addition, the state purchased new lands surrounding the peak. So, future hikers should stay tuned to new routes potentially opening up. For now, start at a trailhead located a mile from the end of Upper Works Road, off Tahawus Road. Follow the trail to Flowed Lands via Hanging Spear Falls for just under four miles. Soon, break right onto the unmarked but well-traveled and obvious herd path to the base of the slide and straight up to the summit ridge. Enjoy the beautiful views of Panther Gorge and the High Peaks to the north from a lookout located just beyond the formal summit.


Seward Range

Adirondack Mountains, New York

Any time of the year, the Sewards are a challenging hike, but the closure of Corey’s Road adds 3.5 miles each way. Depending on conditions, consider skiing this long stretch in and out. Added to this are the Western Adirondacks’ deep snows and some sparsely marked trails, and these peaks, as a result, become a major challenge. You should plan an early start, use the Calkins Brook approach, and be sure to research the route.

The Calkins Brook approach will bring you to the ridge near Mount Donaldson. This path allows you to “T” the ridge, tagging Emmons to the right (south), and Seward to the left (north). The range’s isolation and remoteness have a wonderful feel in winter, but their rewards demand a long day of effort. Unless you are exceptionally fit or planning an overnight, avoid the temptation to add nearby Seymour Mountain.

Credit: Lucas LaBarre
Credit: Lucas LaBarre

Basin Mountain

Adirondacks, New York

Basin lies deep in the Eastern High Peaks’ Great Range. This means there are only a few ways up, and all involve long approaches and very rugged terrain. In addition, several steep ledges, frozen ladders, and frequent ice bulges make this trek particularly difficult in winter. As with many of these peaks, it’s valuable to carry a general mountaineering ice axe to assist with some tricky sections.

For a greater challenge, consider adding Saddleback Mountain to create a larger loop hike. Or, for the expert HaBaSa route, include Haystack within your itinerary. Be aware, though, that this will add obstacles to an already-difficult trek up Basin Mountain: for instance, Saddleback’s cliffs and Little Haystack’s icy ledges. Typically, an approach starts from the Garden Trailhead, travels past Johns Brook Lodge, and then climbs past Slant Rock, and on up the Great Range Trail. If the skies are clear, some wonderful views of the likely-more-crowded Mount Haystack and Mount Marcy, along with many other High Peaks, are yours for the taking.


Do you have another peak that you think is even harder? Let us know in the comments!

8 Gifts for the Après-Ski All-Star

Après-ski is an integral part of any day spent sliding on snow. So, whether the skier or rider on your list will be cozying up to the slopeside bar or popping beers in the parking lot, here are some items that will take your ski bum from après zero to après hero.

1. Get the bottles popping

While smart skiers and riders always carry a small set of tools for those just-in-case moments, savvy après-skiers believe that motto applies off the hill, too. So, if that someone on your list is always fiddling with a lighter, trying to open that bottle of delicious craft beer, try the Leatherman Brewzer Multitool. It features a bottle opener, can be attached to a keychain, is both perfectly priced and sized for stuffing into any stocking, and, most importantly, will help them avoid a trip to the emergency room for stitches.


2. Hydrate in bulk

Sometimes, bottles or cans aren’t enough. The Hydro Flask 32-ounce Beer Growler is designed to keep your cold ones…well, cold. This growler also features the Fresh Carry System, which allows beer to stay carbonated—perhaps the best advancement since rocker skis.

3. Cold on and off the slopes

Owners of more traditional glass growlers will want to make sure their beverage stays cool with the Outdoor Research Growler Parka. The OR Growler Parka protects precious après ales from the cold and cushions delicate 64-ounce glass containers from the shuffling of ski gear.


4. Keep it quiet

Some après situations require discretion. Featuring a timeless look and insulating design, the Stanley Classic Vacuum Pint is ready for just those occasions. The skier on your list won’t raise suspicions, but they may raise the eyebrows of other après aficionados. As a side note, Stanley has been in business for over a century, making it slightly older than the oldest still-operational ski resort in the U.S.

5. Why wait?

Every now and again, skiers and riders start their après activities early. The Nalgene Flask, featuring a cap that doubles as a shot glass and a parka-friendly size, is perfect for just those occasions. To never miss the chance at a chairlift cheers or a toast in the trees, the skier on your list needs only to fill the flask with their favorite beverage.


6. Look the part

Even the biggest ski bums can get classy from time to time. As such, the GSI Outdoors Stemless Wine Glass is a must-have accessory for days when Pinot Noir replaces PBR. With a low center of gravity for stability—like being balanced on a tailgate—and built for rugged use, these wine glasses can stand up to bigger drops and bumps than the skier-on-your-list’s knees.

7. Bring your treasure chest

Ideal for weekends at the ski house and for hardcore ski bums living the van life, the Yeti Tundra 50 is to coolers what Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller are to Olympic skiers: the gold standard. With room to hold enough drinks for everyone, the Yeti will stand up to whatever the skier on your list can throw at it—whether it’s skiing a hundred days in a season, trying to ski all 12 months of the year, or just surviving the annual ski trip.


8. On the rocks

If beer and wine aren’t your skier’s thing, the Hydro Flask Rocks Glass has you covered from cocktails to cocoa. It’s insulated to keep drinks hot and cold and comes with a lid to protect your beverage from the elements. And, the beveled bottom is glorious for your gloved-grip.


These are only some of the awesome après items EMS is stocking this year. Drop into your local store or search online for other amazing gifts for the ski bum on your list.

Winter-Summer Pairings: Shoulder Season Multisport Days

As we head into spring, many outdoor people find themselves conflicted on which sports to pursue. Should they get a head start on their favorite summer activities? Or, should they wring the last bit of life out of their favorite winter sports? Around this time each year, I find myself torn between the desire to get back on the trails (or rock) and—with the knowledge that, once the snow melts, it will be months before I can ski again—my love for spring corn. Luckily, New England is full of great opportunities for those of us who can’t decide what we want to do.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

1. Bag a 4,000-footer and ski the resort

New England springs often offer cold nights and warm days. This means the snow is firm in the morning and soft in the afternoon, so the ski trails aren’t always in prime condition until later in the day.

Waterville Valley is perfect for days like this! With the Tecumseh Trail leading directly from the Waterville Valley parking lot to Mount Tecumseh’s summit, you can tag a 4,000-footer in the morning and ski in the afternoon. Being the shortest of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers, Mount Tecumseh is one of the easier hikes to tick off your list (roughly six miles round trip and with 2,500 feet of elevation gain). This leaves you with plenty of energy to enjoy the steep runs located off Waterville’s aptly named Sunnyside Triple trail in the afternoon.

Cliip a Dee Doo Dah (5.3) at Rumney. | Credit: Tim Peck
Cliip a Dee Doo Dah (5.3) at Rumney. | Credit: Tim Peck

2. Ski and send

Over the years, Cannon Mountain has developed a loyal following of skiers and boarders more interested in amazing terrain than in on-mountain amenities. If you’re like me and consider a chairlift an amenity, they even offer an $8 uphill pass that allows you to skip the lifts and skin uphill on designated trails. Even better, in good seasons, the mountain will close for the year with an abundance of snow still on it, offering great skiing for only the price of the calories and sweat it takes to get you to the top of it.

Coming from south of Franconia Notch in the spring, I love to blend a morning of earning my turns at Cannon Mountain with clipping bolts at Rumney on the way home. With an abundance of crags close to the parking lot, many of which get great afternoon sun, this trip is the perfect way to bid farewell to skiing and usher in climbing.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

3. Mount Wachusett, multisport playground

For years, I was lucky enough to live close to Mount Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts. While the mountain may be limited in terrain, it is in no way limited in opportunities for an incredible multisport spring day. Whether you’re skinning up the mountain before it opens, riding the lifts, or lucky enough to be getting turns after it has closed for the season, the skiing is almost always fun. As well, the mountain’s more limited terrain won’t have you feeling like you’re missing out as you leave to pursue other activities.

Much like Mount Tecumseh, Mount Wachusett’s summit is attainable simply by following trails leaving from the ski resort’s parking lot. Combining a morning on the slopes with a quick trek to the summit is a fantastic way to get your hiking legs under you without missing a chance to ski the soft spring snow. My favorite route has always been following the Balance Rock Trail to the Semuhenna Trail to the Harrington Trail to the summit.

Of course, as good as Mount Wachusett’s hiking trails are, the roads surrounding the mountain are basically tailor-made for cycling. After a morning on the slopes, I love to challenge myself with any number of loop rides that start in the ski resort’s parking lot and climb over the mountain. I like to descend Route 140 and hook up with Route 62. From Route 62, you can connect with Mountain Road to climb up and over Mount Wachusett.

If combining hiking or biking with skiing isn’t interesting enough for you, Mount Wachusett is also located only a few minutes down the road from Crow Hill, one of Massachusetts’ oldest and most notorious crags, and is roughly an hour away from some of New England’s most popular bouldering at Lincoln Woods in Rhode Island.

Although I am not big on playing in the water, one of my friends insists the ultimate multisport opportunity afforded by Mount Wachusett is the chance to play on frozen water in the morning and moving water in the afternoon. For those that don’t know, Mount Wachusett is roughly an hour away from popular surf spots in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.


While spring is the season in which we say goodbye to our favorite winter sports and welcome in our summer activities of choice, there are a few magical weeks where your outdoor options are almost unlimited, making it perfect for the person who wants to do everything.

Small on Vertical, Big on Fun: Beat the Crowds at These Small New England Ski Resorts

For those who cut their teeth skiing eastern mountains, the long row of red tail lights leading to a resort is an all-too-familiar sight. In most cases, you hit your first line before even buckling your boots.

To some extent, crowds are just a fact of Northeastern skiing, especially at the larger resorts and always on the weekends. But, instead of going big, why not opt for a smaller mountain with local history, a lower price, fewer crowds, and arguably better conditions? Here is the low down on some lesser-known resorts in New England that completely deliver.

Courtesy of Camden Snow Bowl
Courtesy of Camden Snow Bowl

Camden Snow Bowl

The Camden Snow Bowl, a community-owned ski mountain located in Camden, Maine, is fairly small—offering just 105 skiable acres and 845 vertical feet. Despite its short stature, it has amazing views and one of the only New England peaks where you can see the ocean.

What the Snow Bowl lacks in size, it makes up for in character, and you will be glad to catch a glimpse of what skiing was like before the days of multi-peak resorts. For example, the snow bowl hosts a historic A-frame lodge at its base which opened in 1936 during the Great Depression.

The resort has something for everyone, and this mountain is great if you have a few friends at varying skill levels. Nearly all the more difficult trails from the summit lift have well-maintained glades between them, and here, skiing the trees is a pleasure rather than a liability. Interested in getting more comfortable with backcountry conditions? The intermediate Scrimshaw or Connie’s Light glades are great places to get your feet wet.

If tree skiing isn’t for you, take a relaxing cruise down the mile-long Spinnaker trail. The mountain’s small size allows your party to split up, run after run, but easily meet at the base for the next one.

Shawnee Mountain | Credit: Chris Sferra
Shawnee Peak | Credit: Christopher O. Sferra

Shawnee Peak

Founded in 1938, Shawnee Peak is the ideal mountain for Portland locals to jam in a last-minute day trip. Located in the foothills of the White Mountains in Bridgton, Maine, Shawnee offers a surprisingly big mountain feel (1,300 vertical feet and 245 skiable acres) for a small mountain price.

When the snow starts falling in the morning, do yourself a favor: Leave work early to “sneak to the peak” and catch some great turns on the empty trails. Don’t worry about arriving late in the day; starting at 3:30 p.m., inexpensive evening tickets allow you to hit 19 lit slopes until 8 or 9 o’clock.

If a day trip is not in the cards, Shawnee has a yurt and several cabins for a rustic ski-on-ski-off experience. At the summit, catch impressive views of the Whites and Moose Pond as the sun sinks towards the horizon.

Shawnee’s accessibility combined with its ample night skiing terrain makes it a great mid-week destination if you want to catch some fresh snow before it gets skied off.

Cranmore Mountain | Credit: Dan Houde
Cranmore Mountain | Credit: Dan Houde

Cranmore Mountain

Nestled in the town of North Conway, New Hampshire, Cranmore Mountain is home to over 170 skiable acres and 1,200 vertical feet, making it a great, less-expensive option to other White Mountain resorts.

What makes Cranmore stand out is its wide-set layout serviced by three lifts to the peak, which keep lines at bay. While some might be drawn in by the high-speed quad, avoid crowds and poor conditions by hitting the skier’s right of the mountain for more difficult and left for intermediate terrain, both serviced by triple lifts. Take the North Conway trail to visit Cranmore’s signature glacial erratic boulder and catch noteworthy views of Mt. Washington.


What separates these smaller locations is, the surrounding towns did not grow up around them, but rather, the resorts developed out of these communities. The mountains might be missing some of larger resorts’ bells and whistles, but you are sure to have a skiing experience steeped in New England culture, community, and charm.

Mount Washington Cog Railway: Ski It While You Can

Built in 1868, the Mount Washington Cog Railway has been a staple of the peak’s plentiful ski runs since skis first came to the Northeast’s highest point. But, recently, plans have come to light that could significantly change that three-mile run in the not-so-distant future.

In December, the Mount Washington Railway Company (MWRC) proposed building a new hotel and restaurant along the rail line just a mile below the mountain’s summit.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Mount Washington has seen more human impact than most peaks. It’s not hard to find the scars of actions made decades or even centuries ago, as everything from hotels, lodges, and huts to roads and railways dots the landscape. Between a multitude of buildings, an auto road, and a railway, Mount Washington has seen more than its fair share of development, both good and bad.

No matter how you feel about the existing infrastructure throughout the Whites, it’s hard to argue that there should be more of it. The most obvious reason we don’t need another building up there? Just look at the remnants of structures built in the past, both on Mount Washington and on the Whites’ other mountains—the impact will last generations. As outdoor enthusiasts, we can almost universally agree on one thing: We should be minimizing our impact on the environment.

But, if we can’t agree on that, then maybe we can agree to not ruin a favorite ski run.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The “Easy” Way

Skiing the Cog Railway might be one of the activities that leaves me the most conflicted about Mount Washington’s infrastructure. While in the summer the railway presents an easy path to the summit for those not wanting or not able to exert the effort in getting there under their own power, in the winter, the Cog offers the most accessible way to Mount Washington’s summit for skiers and snowboarders. Ascending roughly 3,500 feet in three miles, the Cog is the shortest route to the top and involves the least amount of elevation gain. Because it is graded to be suitable for a train, it is never excessively steep, making for quick ascents and even faster descents—especially when skiing! Even better, spring is the perfect time to make the trip, as winter’s cold and windy conditions begin to subside, and the days start to get longer.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Not only does the Cog offer an easier path to the summit, it also minimizes challenging route finding. Unlike many New Hampshire backcountry ski runs, skiing the Cog has no mysteries to unlock; simply follow the rail line from its parking lot near Bretton Woods to the mountain’s summit and back down. The simplicity is incredibly beneficial when considering Mount Washington’s fierce winter weather, with the railway serving as a handrail to the summit and back.

Skiing the Cog further simplifies the logistics by reducing the likelihood of an avalanche. Unlike the more notable and steep Tuckerman Ravine, the Cog’s lower slope angle, less snow, and less wind traditionally make the snowpack more reliable and less likely to avalanche than other Mount Washington backcountry ski lines. However, in spite of its tame reputation, it’s still smart to carry a beacon, shovel, and probe, even though you probably won’t need to use them.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Summit Optional

While the Cog provides a path to the mountain’s summit, there are plenty of good turns to be had on it at lower elevations. In fact, on most occasions that I have skied there, the best turns have come down low. At 3,800 feet (a little over 1,000 feet of elevation gain), the Waumbek tank is a good stopping point for newer backcountry skiers or those just looking to run low-angle laps. Just below treeline at 4,725 feet, Jacob’s Ladder marks the turnaround point for people more interested in skiing than summiting. At a 37-percent grade, it’s also here where skiers will tackle the steepest portion of the trail. From Jacob’s Ladder, the next natural stopping point is the summit.

That is, unless the MWRC get the okay to build their hotel and restaurant. Planned for Skyline Switch, it would sit at 5,200 feet, just 1,000 feet of elevation below the summit. While some might appreciate the brief reprieve from the wind the building could offer, it would also sit blocking one of the trickier sections of the descent, as well as blemish the unique alpine landscape.

Skiing from the summit has typically involved everything from linking snow patches together to wondering why I don’t just put crampons on and walk back down. The trek to the top is mostly just for that: to touch the top. However, on a few occasions, I have been lucky enough click in and make turns right from the summit sign.


Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Skiing the Cog Railway is one of my favorite winter trips in the Whites. It’s straightforward, offers great skiing, and allows you to descend one of the region’s most iconic peaks. Those should be reasons enough to do it, but with the uncertainty of the Cog Railway’s current state (the MWRC wants to have their hotel and restaurant open by 2019), the best time to go is right now!

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Killington: Skiing The Beast of the East

At 4,241 feet, Killington is known as the “Beast of the East.” Featuring six mountain areas, 1,509 ski-able acres, 155 trails, 21 lifts, and a 3,050-foot vertical drop, it’s a giant, to say the least. For boarders and freestyle skiers, the mountain boasts six terrain parks and two half-pipes. It’s regularly the first to open and last to close in the Northeast, and you have the chance to rip down the same run where Mikaela Shiffrin won the 2016 Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom race. She’s a badass, and so is this mountain.

Courtesy: Killington Resort
Courtesy: Killington Resort

Getting There and Renting Gear

Killington is in the heart of the Green Mountains, making it an accessible skiing destination for most of New England. As you drive north up U.S. Route 4, you’ll know you’re getting close when you see both a gas station and First Stop Ski & Bike Shop. This place is perfect if you’re antsy to grab rental gear or if you’re planning to take the lift from Skyeship.

If you’re traveling from VT Route 100, you’ll see Base Camp Outfitters, which also offers rentals. As a tip, if you’re into alpine tour, telemark, or cross-country skiing, BCO has all the gear and info you’ll need. As well, the Access Road itself has an abundance of ski and board shops.

Courtesy: Killington Resort
Courtesy: Killington Resort

Base Lodges

Killington’s vast area encompasses five base lodges, so don’t forget where you parked. Here’s the breakdown:


The main base area is home to the K-1 Express Gondola and is the quickest way to the highest terrain. K-1 is essentially the mountain’s home base, featuring Guest Services, Killington Sports, food options, a bar, and an outdoor patio with live music in nice weather. Speaking of weather, the Roaring Brook Umbrella Bar is a MUST in the spring, and let’s not forget the wonderful Waffle Cabin for everyone who has a sweet tooth. As a whole, K-1 is definitely the mecca of base lodges.


As the starting point for adult beginners, it has learning terrain, lessons, and designated slow areas. But, don’t let this intro stuff fool you; Snowshed still gives you access to the entire mountain and has the Double Diamond Demo Center for high-end equipment, a great starting point for groups of friends at all levels. As another tip, just this summer, they moved an Umbrella Bar to Snowshed for people-watching galore!


More family oriented, it has kids’ lessons and rental gear, childcare, and kid-friendly food courts, and is smoke free. With two magic carpets and an abundant amount of beginners’ terrain, this is the place to head with your little ones.

Bear Mountain

With plenty of advanced terrain, and the most likely place to find the sun on a partly cloudy day, it gets you to the steeps, bumps, and trees and has three terrain parks and one of the half-pipes. Bear Mountain is also known for its annual Mogul Challenge, open to anyone hoping to give their knees some work.


You can’t miss the bridge that crosses over U.S. Route 4. The Skyeship Gondola takes you to Skye Peak and provides access to the rest of the mountain. There will be much smaller crowds here, but you can’t rent gear. Food and drinks are available.

Just in case you end the day in a different spot from where you started, there is a shuttle service that runs between the base lodges.

Courtesy: Killington Resort
Courtesy: Killington Resort


Now for the fun part: Know where to get those turns in! Pick your speed or ability, and get out there:

Advanced and Expert Trails

Start by taking the K-1 Gondola—you can get to pretty much anywhere on the mountain from there. If you don’t need a warm up, head right to the Canyon Area for some thrills on the steeps. Need to loosen the legs? Take a skier’s left to North Ridge Triple Chair for a few runs, or go skier’s right and cross over to Needle’s Eye or the Skye Peak Express quad.

No matter where you start, make sure to get some runs in on Bear Mountain. For park fanatics, Skye Peak and Bear are the most advanced places to get in your kicks and tricks. Here, The Stash was designed and built by Jake Burton and his team, and has 66 features that go in, out, and even over the trees, and is guaranteed to impress! You also can’t forget Superstar. A headwall starts off the run, and then, it just lets you rip and carve all the way down.

Credit: Amy Fuller Ahlberg
Credit: Amy Fuller Ahlberg


Ramshead is the place to start if you want to get those skis turning and under control. It also has the small- and medium-sized terrain parks. Next, take Caper to the Snowdon Quad, and enjoy that area for a few runs.

As you keep making your way across the mountain, find Skye Peak, which arguably has the most intermediate terrain of any mountain area in Killington. It would be easy to spend hours exploring and jumping around the many blue trails that are serviced by its six lifts.


Enjoy what Snowshed and Ramshead have to offer: Snowshed Slope is short and wide and provides plenty of room to turn, while Easy Street and Caper on Ramshead are longer and narrower, with turns in the terrain that create a flowing feeling as you ski down.

Feeling lost? Great Northern trail traverses from the top and will bring you to the K-1 Base Lodge and Snowshed. Bear Trax and Bear Claw will take you to Skye Peak and Bear Mountain. If you’re feeling really lost, Killington has ski ambassadors everywhere, all of whom are knowledgeable, friendly, and always willing to lend a hand or lead the way if needed.

Credit: Robin Cox
Credit: Robin Cox

Fuel Up

Looking for a quick breakfast to take with you to the mountain? Stop by the Phat Italian, where they use Boar’s Head meats and aren’t stingy about it. Want to sit down for a bit? Venture off the Access Road and head to Maple Sugar & Vermont Spice in Mendon, or stay local and eat at the Butternut Inn and Pancake House. Either place is a win.

Sometimes, a late start isn’t always a bad thing, especially on the weekend, when The Foundry serves brunch starting at 11, with menu items like omelettes, crepes, breakfast burritos, and homemade waffles—is your mouth watering yet? Pair your breakfast with a mimosa or a Bloody Mary, and you’re on your way to a successful day!

Lunch can be found both on and off the slopes. Every base lodge gives you the option of buying food, but a favorite is always going to be the Peak Lodge. Don’t let the cafeteria-style restaurant fool you, though; the food is delicious. The Peak Bar has an amazing view, along with beers on tap and signature drinks. If you’re up for something different, try the Jerk Jamaican Mountain Grill at the bottom of Needle’s Eye.

Après ski needs to be at The Lookout. It’s the first bar on the left as you drive down the Access Road. It might be busy, but the crowd gathers here for a reason.

Credit: Stephanie Levin
Credit: Stephanie Levin

Spending the Night

In order to get everything in that Killington has to offer, it’s best to stay at least one night.

The Killington Grand Resort Hotel is the only mountainside full-service hotel. Preston’s restaurant and its proximity to Snowshed are huge bonuses for staying there.

Fall Line, Highridge, Trail Creek, and Sunrise are condo units that have shuttle access to the mountain and, if the snow is cooperating, ski-home trails.

Birch Ridge Inn, Summit Lodge, Mountain Sports Inn, and Chalet Killington are all on the Access Road and are only a five-minute drive from the slopes.

Looking to stay outside of Killington? About 15 miles away, Rutland has a Comfort Inn, Days Inn, and Holiday Inn.


It’s not hard to see why they call this place The Beast—it definitely can be a little intimidating! But, if you play your cards right, you’re in for one of the Northeast’s best days on the snow.

Credit: Amy Fuller Ahlberg
Credit: Amy Fuller Ahlberg

Loon Mountain: Exit 32’s Big-Mountain Skiing

One of the best things about visiting Loon Mountain is that it offers something for everyone. Whether it’s chasing pow, cruising corduroy, skiing trees, sessioning the park, aprés activities, or just poking around Lincoln’s bustling Main Street, the mountain is high on entertainment. And, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself wanting to do a bit of everything.

With a reputation for delivering accessible (located right off of I-93’s exit 32) big-mountain skiing, Loon is a popular spot for daytrippers. However, if you’re like most people, you won’t be ready to go home after one day, so, if you can, plan on extending your stay to explore all of the mountain and the fun little town at its base.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Pre-Ski Fuel Up

When it comes to exploring its three different peaks, I often find it difficult to break for lunch, and you can’t expect to go bell-to-bell without a decent breakfast. Fortunately, there are a few great options between the highway and the mountain.

In my opinion, you can never go wrong with a breakfast sandwich from the White Mountain Bagel Co., but if I’m in the mood for something different, I’ll head to Half Baked and Fully Brewed. While they also serve breakfast sandwiches, it’s their baked goods and coffee that lure me.

I’d love to tell you that every time I go to Loon, I leave myself enough time for a real breakfast and still make first chair, but that would be a lie. Luckily, you also pass a Dunkin’ Donuts and a McDonald’s on your way through Lincoln if you only have time for something from the drive-through.

Fresh powder on Angel Street. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain
Fresh powder on Angel Street. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain

The Gondola

Taking the Gondola from Loon’s base lodge to the 2,733-foot summit is the way I like to start a day of skiing or riding. While some of my more-ambitious friends will head right for Angel Street, an iconic black diamond run that passes underneath the Gondola at its steepest point, I prefer to warm my legs up on one of the mountain’s more moderate runs before tackling the steeps.

Speaking of moderate, Loon is a great place for intermediate skiers and riders, with 60 percent of the terrain being blue squares. Normally, I will take Flying Fox or Upper Pickled Rock to one of the lower mountains’ numerous blue square runs that lead back to the Gondola. After my warm-up, I’ll head back up the almost-1,800 feet of vertical to tackle the aforementioned Angel Street.

Get a great view of the town below from Ripsaw. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain
Get a great view of the town below from Ripsaw. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain

South Peak

Loon Mountain’s South Peak can be accessed by either the Tote Road Quad, which runs across a ridgeline on the upper mountain, or taking a shuttle to the Lincoln Express Quad at the bottom of South Peak. Advanced skiers flock to Loon’s southern slopes to tackle the mountain’s first—and only—double-black diamond run, Ripsaw.

At 45 degrees, Ripsaw provides plenty of challenges for skiers and boarders looking for steeps. For people who love skiing in the trees, Undercut offers some of the mountain’s best glade skiing and is a must-do if there is plenty of snow. Those looking for something a little less rowdy and a bit more mellow will love the aptly named Cruiser for making easy turns while enjoying stellar views.

Getting some air on Upper Flume. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain
Getting some air on Upper Flume. | Credit: Michael Riddell

North Peak

It’s far from difficult to spend nearly entire days riding the North Peak Express Quad and lapping Walking Boss and Flume, the peak’s two primary runs. Long, wide, and never crowded, and with just the right amount of steepness, Walking Boss and Flume are great places to open it up if you have the need for speed.

North Peak is Loon’s highest point at 3,005 feet and is often the place to find the best snow on the mountain. It can also be the windiest and coldest lift ride, perhaps explaining the lack of crowds.

If the snow is good and you enjoy tree skiing, Walking Boss Woods and Bucksaw are awesome glade runs. Beginners and intermediates should beware: North Peak is short on intermediate terrain, with Sunset being the peak’s only blue square run from the top.

Big air in Loon's Superpipe. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain
Big air in Loon’s Superpipe. | Credit: Loon Mountain/Gus Noffke


One thing you’ll notice when cruising around the mountain is the proliferation of terrain parks. Loon is home to six different ones and the only superpipe in New Hampshire. Designed to offer something for everyone, Loon’s will satisfy anyone, from the person looking to ride their first rail to pros wanting to keep their skills sharp. Although I don’t ride the park myself, I do like to stop and admire how talented those skiers and riders are.

Mountain Eats

For anyone skiing bell-to-bell, it usually takes some grub in between to elevate your energy levels. Like any other big mountain these days, Loon has plenty of options. But for me, if I’m going to stop, it’s almost always at the Summit Cafe, located—as you might have guessed—on Loon’s summit.

Offering Caribbean-inspired fare, the Summit Cafe delivers hot food and conjures warm thoughts on cold winter days. And, during the sunny days of spring, it’s a great place to stop for a refreshing Red Stripe on the back deck, take in the incredible view of the White Mountains, and pretend you’re someplace tropical…if only for a moment.

After-ski drinks in the Paul Bunyan Lounge. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain
After-ski drinks in the Paul Bunyan Room. | Credit: Dan Brown/Kapitol Photo

The Paul Bunyan Room

Coming in a close second to my love of skiing is my love of aprés activities, and Loon Mountain’s Paul Bunyan Room is one of New Hampshire’s finer places for the latter.

With 24 beers on tap, it guarantees the right brew to complete a great day on the slopes. Plus, the Bunyan Room features live music, giving you the chance to tune out for a few minutes after big day of making small talk on the lifts. When the weather is nice, take the party out to the deck, enjoy the sun, keep an eye out for your friends, and, as the Bunyan Room’s deck sits just above Loon’s base lodge, watch skiers wrap up their days.

Not Ready to Head Home?

Gordi’s Fish and Steak House is conveniently located in Lincoln on the way back to I-93, and is the obvious choice for those looking to keep the day going. Skiers will feel right at home with the place’s theme and the knowledge that Gordi’s owners were both members of the U.S. Olympic ski team. Gordi’s knows what people fresh of the hill are looking for and has awesome aprés specials on drinks and food, as well as an enormous menu if the breakfast sandwich from the morning is a distant memory clouded by non-stop skiing.

After a short drive through Lincoln—past the highway on-ramp into the town of Woodstock—you’ll find the Woodstock Inn, Station & Brewery. Featuring a huge menu and a nice variety of their own beers, the Woodstock Inn Brewery is a great way to end an epic day on the slopes. Can’t decide which beer to get? The Pig’s Ear Brown Ale is one of my favorite post-skiing beverages.

Stay More than a Day

Conveniently located right off of I-93 and roughly two hours from Boston, it’s no wonder Loon Mountain has become an incredibly popular destination for New England skiers. With its vast and varied terrain, there is truly a trail for everyone. And, although Loon’s proximity to Boston makes it a favorite for daytrippers, with the lively town of Lincoln at the mountain’s base, there is no reason to go home after just one day.

Don’t forget to gear up at Eastern Mountain Sports before hitting the slopes, and if you’re taking I-93 south home, be sure to stop in our Concord, New Hampshire location right off exit 14 to grab that piece of equipment you wished you had at Loon for your next visit.

I think what John Muir meant to say was the slopes are calling, and I must go.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Backcountry Skier’s Guide to Mount Moosilauke

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Anyone who has ever been to the summit of New Hampshire’s Mount Moosilauke in the summer knows that the mountain can be as busy as it is beautiful. With a plethora of trails for users of all experience levels and a lodge at the base owned by the Dartmouth Outing Club, along with being one of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers and part of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Moosilauke sees a lot of traffic, especially during prime hiking season. Fortunately, a great way to beat the crowds is to ascend its Carriage Road in the winter—a trip made even better if you can do it on skis—because as good as it is to hike in the summer, skiing it makes it that much more fun.

Getting There

A ski up and down the Carriage Road begins and ends on Breezy Point Road, located off Route 118 in Warren, New Hampshire. The Carriage Road starts pretty much where Breezy Point Road ends, and how far it’s plowed varies from year to year. In any case, there has always been a prominent place for parking, and the times I have had to go a little farther down have been rewarded with extra skiing on the way out.

The Carriage Road

Regardless of how far down the road you park, the trail is officially 5.1 miles long, ascends roughly 3,000 feet, and almost always takes longer to complete than I remember. On its climb to the summit, the Carriage Road passes other popular trails as it wanders through the forest, such as the Hurricane Trail at 1.6 miles and Snapper Trail at three miles.

After passing the Snapper Trail, the Carriage Road sees its character change, as it becomes steeper and more exposed to the elements. The trail continues this way for a little over a mile and brings you to the split for Moosilauke’s shorter and less-traveled South Summit.

The South Summit trail split is an excellent place to bundle up for the above-treeline push. If it’s getting late in the day, the conditions above treeline are unappealing, or skiing is just more important than summiting, this is also a logical turnaround point. The snow at the South Summit sign is often packed down, thus making the transition from uphill to downhill easy, it’s somewhat sheltered from the elements, and the best skiing is typically found below this point. If summiting is on your mind, however, it’s a little under a mile from here, almost all of it above treeline.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Why You Should Go

If the idea of skiing one of the Northeast’s iconic peaks isn’t enough to tempt you, maybe thinking about a little over five miles of uninterrupted skiing might. That’s right: The Carriage Road on Mount Moosilauke is 5.1 miles long and, if conditions allow (which, granted, might be a big “if”), you can go from the summit to your car in the Breezy Point Road parking lot without ever taking off your skis.

It’s also worth noting that the trail climbs roughly 3,000 feet over those 5.1 miles (10.2 miles round trip), and I have seen a few ski partners, including one very angry girlfriend (now wife, no thanks to that trip), over the years bail before the summit, having not realized—or been misled—about the effort and time involved in skiing this peak.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

It’s Mellow

Although the Carriage Road wasn’t built with skiers in mind, you might think otherwise. Because it was originally constructed to lead horses and carriages to the mountain’s summit, the grade is never exceedingly steep. While this might disappoint some of the rowdier skiers in your group, it presents a fantastic opportunity for linking turns and taking in the mountain’s incredible views, and provides a pleasant alternative to some of the Northeast’s more extreme lines. Furthermore, the Carriage Road is reasonably wide in most places, giving less-experienced or less-comfortable backcountry skiers plenty of room for making turns.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Know Before You Go  

Just because Mount Moosilauke is a relatively southern peak compared to other popular New Hampshire backcountry spots, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an easy trip. At a little over 4,800 feet tall, Mount Moosilauke is the state’s tenth-tallest mountain—and, unlike many of those ahead of it on the list, it stands alone and is unprotected from the weather.

When you take into account that the last mile up the Carriage Road is almost entirely above treeline, anyone ascending should be ready to experience full winter conditions. On more than one occasion, I have left 50-degree weather in the parking lot and booted through a mile or more of mud before reaching the snow, only to find myself scrambling to pull on my puffer jacket, balaclava, and mittens as I climbed above treeline.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Summit Snowfields

Read any blog or search for photos of skiing on Mount Moosilauke, and eventually, someone will mention the summit snowfields. I, too, have been lured by the idea of opening it up on the mountain’s exposed flanks. Sadly, in spite of skiing it numerous times—in different months, and in various conditions—I have never actually seen this mysterious sight.

On the best days, I have encountered enough snow to allow for defensive skiing before getting to the good stuff below treeline. On the worst days, the upper mountain has been swept of almost all its snow, instead consisting mostly of rock and ice and necessitating the use of MICROspikes or crampons to summit.


Skiing from Mount Moosilauke’s summit should be on any New England backcountry skier’s bucket list. It represents the chance to reach a prominent and popular peak without the hassle of the crowds. Even better, thanks to skis, the descent back to the car has never been faster!