New Hampshire has some of the best skiing in the Northeast, and that isn’t limited to just resorts. With miles and miles of forests and trails, the Granite State is an oasis for all types of skiers, whether it be resort skiers, backcountry skiers, or cross-country skiers. For people who’d prefer to keep a chair lift out of the equation, one area to check out is Bear Notch Ski Touring Center in Bartlett, New Hampshire.

Marketed as the ‘best kept secret in the White Mountains,’ after a day spent on Bear Notch Touring Center’s trails, it’s hard to disagree.

XC skiing with a dog

Why Skiers Love Bear Notch

With over 40 miles of trails in the Bear Notch network, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned cross-country skier, you’ll enjoy the picturesque views of North Country winter while gliding through meadows with ease or challenging yourself on tough uphills. Most of the trails at Bear Notch are groomed and include a track for beginner skiers. If you’re more experienced, you’ll have plenty of room to move around away from the incut terrain.

Bear Notch’s off-the-beaten-path location also makes it one of the quieter spots for cross-country skiing in the North Country. A farmhouse on the property, where rentals are doled out by hand, is the only spot you may encounter any sort of a wait.

A Great Spot for Beginners

In addition to the stellar quality of the trails, unlike big resorts, Bear Notch is an affordable choice for someone who is interested in trying cross-country skiing for the first time. The price of an adult day pass and rentals is below $50, and kids 16 and under ski free. There are also lessons available for both kids and adults for $60 or less.

Bear Notch is basically divided into two sections: the Upper Fields, which are better for experienced skiers, and the Lower Fields and Saco River loops, which are catered to beginners. Both sections have some black diamond, or difficult, trails mixed in, so make sure to pay attention to trail signage.

Other Perks

If Nordic skiing isn’t your thing, but you still want to check out the trails, Bear Notch also offers snowshoe rentals.

The trails at Bear Notch also connect to a number of popular restaurants, hotels, and motels in the area. Skiers can get to and from Attitash Mountain Village, the Grand Summit, and North Colony Motel among others on the network.

Skiers with dogs will also be happy to know that well-behaved pups are allowed on the trails.

Cross-country skiers

What to Know About Bear Notch Touring Center

All of the snow at Bear Notch is natural, which means there’s no snowmaking anywhere on the property. So if snow conditions are poor, don’t go there expecting to get some stellar skiing in! You can keep track of conditions at Bear Notch on a blog that’s updated almost daily by the owners.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there isn’t a huge lodge or good spot for après on the property (there is a small warming hut if you need to give your fingers and toes a break from the cold, however). The trail network is located on Route 302, which, if you keep following east, will eventually lead you into North Conway for some post-ski entertainment.

If you’ve never been to Bear Notch or want to try cross-country skiing for the first time, put it on your list and experience cross-country skiing and snowshoeing the way it was meant to be.