Known as the “birthplace of freestyle skiing,” Waterville Valley is among the Northeast’s most popular ski resorts. From diehards testing themselves on classics like True Grit to those just learning to link turns on Stemtation and Leroy’s Loop, this mountain, located on the flanks of New Hampshire’s Mount Tecumseh, has something for everyone. On top of the stellar skiing and riding, there’s a lot to love about Waterville Valley, including its charming town square, an abundance of lodging and dining options, and its relatively close proximity to southern New England.

Credit: Tim Peck

Why Skiers Love Waterville Valley: The Skiing

Fast lifts, convenient on-mountain lodging, and fun après scenes are enticing to skiers, but in the end, what interests skiers the most is skiing. Here, Waterville Valley delivers.

Black Diamonds

Waterville Valley’s double-black diamond True Grit is often counted among the most challenging trails in New England. While it lacks the gnarly trees, rocks, and high level of commitment of the region’s toughest trails, it’s steeped in history. In 1970, the first National Championship of Freestyle Skiing was held on True Grit; skiing icon Wayne Wong took third in the contest and would become Waterville Valley’s head freestyle coach in 1973. True Grit comes with an audience—the Sunnyside Triple ascends the slope—so bust out your best moves and throw an old-school freestyle trick for the crowd above.

The Sunnyside Triple offers access to other classic Waterville Valley trails, namely Gemma and Ciao. While neither packs the pitch of neighboring True Grit, they offer enough steepness to get your heart pumping and amazing views of Green Peak, a recent expansion to Waterville’s already wonderful skiing and riding. More than once, a skier has found themselves lapping these three mid-mountain runs, especially in the spring when the snow is soft, the bumps are big, and the stoke is high.

Blue Squares

There’s no shortage of great intermediate terrain at Waterville Valley. Among the best are the runs from the ski area’s summit—Hassle, Scramble, Treeline, and Ruthie’s Run—all of which are rated as blue squares. Waterville Valley’s highest-elevation trails are commonly the place to find the best snow (and the most wind). The ski area recently replaced its old High Country Double lift with the High Country T-Bar, reducing the odds of wind holds and helping to ensure regular access to these fun, mellow trails.

Other awesome intermediate runs include Oblivion, which gently hugs the resort boundary on one side, and the iconic steep runs Gemma and Ciao on the other. Tippecanoe and And Tyler Too are also excellent intermediate runs. They’re both found mid-mountain, accessed by the Tecumseh Express, Waterville’s new six-pack lift that made its debut this winter. Each trail delivers the moderate pitch and wide-open space that are the hallmarks of great blue square runs.

Governor’s Run on Green Peak is another noteworthy trail. Named after New Hampshire’s current governor, Chris Sununu, and his father, former governor John Sununu, its excellent views and stellar skiing make for an almost 100% approval rate—something every politician dreams of.

Green Circles

Newer skiers and riders, along with those who prefer to cruise rather than charge, will find a fair amount of beginner terrain. Valley Run and Rock Island are easily accessed from the base area via the Valley Run Quad and deliver mellow cruising under the lift. The nearby Sugar Shack Glades, located just below the mid-mountain Timberline Lodge, are a veritable funhouse for kids and adults alike. Meanwhile, Chandlers Way and Bourbon Street on Green Peak also offer sweet runs without too much steepness and just the right amount of challenge.

Terrain Parks

It should come as no surprise that “the birthplace of freestyle skiing” offers an abundance of jumps, boxes, and rails—they also provide room for development. Lower White Caps Terrain Park is a great place to get started catching air and trying tricks. More seasoned freeskiers will want to visit the Stemtation Progression Park. Believe in going big or going home? Check out the large jumps and rails on Utter Abandon.

Credit: Tim Peck

On-Mountain Amenities

Skiing and riding steal the show at Waterville Valley, but there’s no need to brown bag it or party in the parking lot. Both on the mountain and in the base area there are plenty of great places to grab a bite to eat or drink.

Schwendi Hutte

Located mid-mountain, the Schwendi Hutte is a popular stopping point for those looking to refuel and relax—you’ll find everything from cinnamon rolls to sandwiches to soups. The Schwendi Hutte also serves beer, wine, and hot drinks like coffee and cocoa along with an incredible view of the White Mountains from its deck.


More than a great name for a ski area bar, T-Bars is the perfect place to wrap up a day on the slopes and an ideal après spot. Located in the base area, T-Bars serves beer, wine, and cocktails along with a variety of Tex-Mex favorites—traditional nachos and Mexican poutine are two favorites for replenishing the calories burned sessioning the Sunnyside Triple.

The Freestyle Lounge and the Marketplace

In the base lodge, skiers will find the Freestyle Lodge and the Marketplace. The Freestyle Lodge offers an excellent view of the mountain, serves hearty food, and is the place to be for mid-week après (T-Bars is only open Friday through Sunday). The Marketplace has everything you look for in a ski area cafeteria, from grab-and-go items like muffins to kid (and big kid) favorites like chicken tenders to hot soups and chili.

Credit: Tim Peck

Off-Mountain Amenities

Waterville Valley doesn’t offer the bustling downtown scene of other popular winter destinations like Stowe, North Conway, or Lincoln, but there are still some gems worth exploring near the mountain. The Benton Sugar Shack in Thorton is about 15 minutes from the ski area and serves up one of the best breakfasts in the Granite State—a pancake platter smothered in warm maple syrup is a must if you’re planning on skiing bell to bell.

One of the best coffee shops in the White Mountains, Mad River Coffee Roasters, is located just down the road from Waterville Valley and is the spot to stop if you prefer to fuel your ski day with caffeine rather than pancakes. While their coffee steals the show, Mad River Coffee Roasters also serves up delicious breakfasts and lunches, along with an assortment of tasty treats—trust us, try a cannoli.

Those looking to après off the mountain will want to explore Dam Brewhouse in Compton Village, just a short drive from Waterville Valley. Always offering something new, the Dam Brewhouse is seemingly always concocting something different to rotate through its ten taps.

Getting There & Lodging

Conveniently located right off of I-93 (exit 28) and roughly two hours from Boston, Waterville Valley is a particularly popular destination with skiers coming from southern New England. Although Waterville is doable as a day trip for many skiers, there’s a multitude of convenient lodging options ranging from resorts to bed and breakfasts to Airbnbs.

Credit: Tim Peck