Monday, December 21, 2009

So You Wanna Be One Of Them Skatey-Skiers, Part 2

This is part 2 in the "nordic skiing for bike dorks" series. The full series is here.

Part 2: Where do I go?



So you have skate skis, one way or another, or maybe you're going to rent some. Where should you go?

The most common option around Boston is Weston. They have snowmaking, night skiing, Tuesday night races, and almost zero interesting terrain. They're the only place you can regularly ski midweek if you work in Boston and have a day job. If you're looking for the simplest exposure to nordic skiing, go to Weston, rent skis, duff around for a bit. Done.

But you might not like it that much. Skiing at Weston is like racing at Wells Ave, or mountain biking around the Fells -- nothing special, but it's close and convenient. Since you're a cyclist, your other option was probably riding the trainer in your basement, so maybe you can't even tell that the scenery and terrain variety at Weston sucks.

Assuming you'd like to make an actual experience of it, and say, go down hills, ski through the woods, or see natural snow, you're gonna need to get in the car. There's a surprising number of choices to ski in New England, so it's a tougher choice than you might think. How long do you want to drive and how much snow is around?
Change those mountains to a highway, and you could be at Weston!

If there's snow in Boston and you want to keep it simple, you could hit Great Brook (30 mins) or Windblown (1 hour), both of which are natural-snow-only places, with real trails, that can be a half-day trip. Windblown is currently in the process of changing hands from a family that has run it for a million years, to a group of hardcore Boston skiers who have a "master plan" for improving it. In a few years it may be a totally different place, although any change will undoubtedly be for the better.

If you've got an entire day to spend out on the trail, there's good skiing at Waterville Valley, Gunstock, Pineland, and probably a bunch of others I'm forgetting (looking forward to some comments, here!) that are 2 hours or so from Boston on major highways. These have bigger trail systems and more snow than Great Brook/Windblown.

If you're making a weekend of it, well, that pretty much opens up all of New England to you. I can't possibly enumerate all the options, but I'll list a few favorites:

The Balsams
Sugarloaf
Rangeley
Great Glen Trails
Prospect Mountain
Craftsbury

It should be noted that all of these exist in the vicinity of major alpine ski areas, so even if you don't want to nordic ski for two days they can be bundled into an incredible, average-cyclist-crippling, winter weekend.

If your plan all along was to go only to Weston you probably found this pretty useless. Just wait until tomorrow, we'll talk about technique, and how you don't have it!
All these choices are giving me a headache!


Update! Toby found a map of every ski center in New England.

9 comments:

Toby 12/22/2009 9:50 AM  

Hey this map on the NENSA site seems to be pretty comprehensive of New England ski areas.

http://www.nensa.net/maps/ski_centers.php

...i wish I knew html...that would so be a hyperlink

Mom 12/22/2009 10:03 AM  

Shameless plug (I work for the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce) -- 3 small, but pretty Nordic ski areas in Bethel/Newry, (you can't ski far yet)see http://tinyurl.com/bethelnordicchoices or www.bethelmaine.com in general. Pretty inns, cheap motels, call 800.442.5826! Even Colin says it's a pretty town. Getting good or happy to be demoralized? race the Flying Moose Classic, Feb. 21.

Colin R 12/22/2009 10:08 AM  

Toby: thanks. linked it in the main post.

And yes, the only person allowed to shamelessly plug their business in the comments here is my mother.

Luke S 12/23/2009 2:33 AM  

If you're going to Great Glen, make the drive about 20 mins shorter and go to Jackson XC. Right in the village, over 100km of trails, big mountains to climb up or boring golf courses to ski around. Epic. Don't see how it could miss the list.

Luke S 12/23/2009 2:34 AM  

Oh, and Prospect Mtn, in Woodford, VT is only a little more than 2 hrs away.

And Notchview, in Western Mass is only 1.5-2 hrs away (don't remember really) and has good skiing and gets a bunch of snow.

Luke S 12/23/2009 2:35 AM  

Don't forget Stowe/Trapps either

Hill Junkie 12/23/2009 7:14 AM  

Only 75 minutes from Concord, MA is Northfield Mtn just off Rt 2 on the fringe of the Berkshires. It is operated by a public utility. When they've got snow, they do an amazing job with the grooming. You gotta like climbing though. Most trails go to summit, an 800ft climb.

Cathy 12/23/2009 9:13 AM  

Love to ride the Kingdom Trails on your MTB in the summer? How about skiing those same trails in the winter (at least many of them)? That place is equally good on skis as it is on bikes.

megA 12/24/2009 1:26 PM  

Northfield's grooming is amazing--way better than Notchview's. Notchview tends to focus on classic, and they are usually PACKED, but Northfield is a forgotten little gem.

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