Winter in Boston can feel like it lasts forever, especially if we have another one like 2015. No matter how much time goes by, we’ll never forget what 10 feet of snow looks like (or what shoveling it felt like). But the snowiest of seasons doesn’t have to be all bad.
When we want to make winter a little (okay, a lot) more fun, we head to the mountains. We love that skiing and snowboarding are great exercise…and that you can do it with friends. But we hate waiting in lift lines, dealing with icy patches, or sitting in the car for too long trying to get there. So we’ve rounded up our seven favorite ski and snowboard spots within three hours of Boston.
Go the other way off of I-93 in Central New Hampshire and instead of Gunstock, you’ll find yourself at Ragged Mountain. Also about two hours from Boston, Ragged is even more off the beaten path (true to the name, probably a little more ragged too). It’s rarely crowded, and with 57 trails to choose from, you might even find yourself skiing solo. If you just love to play in the snow, check out Ragged’s three terrain parks. And with a huge expansion project in the works, expect Ragged to only get better in future seasons.
Blue Hills Ski Area
Did you know that there’s a ski slope less than 30 minutes from Boston? That’s right – the Blue Hills Ski Area is just a short jaunt from downtown. If you’re anything like us, you love hiking the dozens of wooded trails at Blue Hills in spring, summer, and fall. And in the winter, you can expand that love by skiing on this tiny but mighty hill just south of Boston. Blue Hills has only 309 feet of vertical drop, but since it’s so close to our mostly flat city, we’ll take it. So when you need a quick run, it’s no-frills skiing at its finest.
Our go-to spot when we don’t want to spend hours in the car is Pats Peak, just outside of Concord, New Hampshire. Less than an hour-and-a-half from Boston, this small ski and snowboard mountain has a dazzling diversity of terrain. We absolutely love the wooded glades at Pats Peak. And the fact that we can hit every run in a day of riding gives us a sense of accomplishment. It’s just an old-school ski mountain that’s almost never crowded.
Gunstock Mountain Resort
About two hours north of Boston, you’ll find Gunstock Mountain Resort. Since it’s not right off the highway, Gunstock is often less busy than other nearby ski spots. That’s a good thing when you’d rather rip runs than stand in lift lines. The Panorama High-Speed Quad lives up to its name when it dumps you out on top of the mountain to scope stunning views of nearby Lake Winnipesaukee. Don’t miss Gunstock’s three terrain parks, where there are enough features to keep you busy all day. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try Gunstock’s winter camping…just don’t forget your long underwear!
The White Mountains are one of the most popular skiing destination in New England. But they’re not the only place in New Hampshire with great snow. Mount Sunapee, near the border with Vermont, is the place to go if you love Blue Square (AKA medium difficulty) runs. The majority of the terrain at Sunapee is right in that sweet spot, so it’s perfect for a day of cruising. Sunapee also has plenty of Green Circles if you’re just starting out, or Black Diamonds if you’ve been at this for a while. And at less than two hours from Boston, what’s not to love?
Tucked into the southern part of the White Mountains, Waterville Valley is a classic New England ski and snowboard spot. Like Mount Sunapee, Waterville Valley has got a ton of Blues (our favorite), including some from the very top of the mountain. Love freestyle terrain? You’ve come to the right place. Waterville has super fun glades and parks just waiting for you to FINALLY throw the 360. We didn’t think Waterville could get any better, but with a big expansion planned, it looks like we’re in for even more awesomeness. All this and it’s only about two hours from Boston. Score.
We’ve saved the best for last. Bretton Woods, on the northern end of the White Mountains, is our absolute favorite New England ski spot. We don’t like to hate, but when we want to avoid the massive lift lines and icy, windy conditions at other nearby mountains (looking at you, Loon and Cannon), we head to Bretton Woods. It’s New Hampshire’s largest ski area…and only two-and-a-half hours from Boston! Plus, it’s got a huge diversity of terrain and the views of nearby Mount Washington are sure to stop you in your tracks (that’s pizza, not french fry).