The resort at Pico Mountain has come a long way since it opened on Thanksgiving morning in 1937. It was a blustery day, and skiers held tight to a 1,200-foot towrope powered by a Hudson motorcar engine as they rose up the mountainside and tried to get reception on their rotary-dial phones. Today, the mountain is striped with 52 trails and seven lifts, including two high-speed detachable quads. Gentle learning terrain beckons newbies, smooth cruisers give intermediate skiers an easy ride, classically narrow New England steeps entice beginning and intermediate skiers, and a double-black-diamond trail challenges advanced athletes. Snowboarders and freestyle skiers interested in tricks can use the jumps, boxes, and rails in the Triple Slope terrain park, and the Snow Sports School sharpens the skills of first-timers and seasoned pros alike.
Although the resort has advanced in size and technology, it maintains a personalized, small-mountain charm. The trails all converge at one convenient central base area whose lodge boasts a sports center with a heated pool and a sauna. Guests can grab a beer and a burger or slice of pizza beside the crackling stone fireplace at the Last Run Lounge before retiring to their hotel room or condo.
Among numerous other accolades, Smugglers' Notch was named one of the 10 Best East Coast Resorts by SKI Magazine for its impressive thousand-acres of terrain and its tremendous family-friendly resort village. Three mountains providing a vertical drop of 2,610 feet dare skiers and snowboarders to cut into their powdery snow packs. All levels of pole cats can trek the more than 27 miles of trails. Beginners can glide on gently groomed hills and experts can disappear into the Black Hole, a rare triple-black-diamond route. The downhill professors at Snow Sport University coach students in the ways of balance, speed, and outmaneuvering paparazzi on bobsleds. The resort's snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling keep winter warriors' agendas packed.
A year-round hotspot at the Jay Peak Resort, Jay Peak Pump House Indoor Waterpark beckons families to slip into its colorful slides and lounge in its 100-plus-degree hot tubs. La Chute, a quick-descending slide 65’ above the water, launches visitors through a 360-degree turn before depositing them in the pool below only six seconds later. In the Mill Pond kids’ play area, children man water cannons, adjusting their trajectory to blast unsuspecting friends or hydrate parched marathon runners.
An arcade replete with 3-D games and immersive ride simulators provides a break from underwater exploits, and the snack shack quells cravings for pizza, burgers, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Adults can lounge at the poolside bar, where bartenders serve up frozen cocktails, draft beers, and firsthand advice on shark wrangling.
Reservations/Appointments: Not offered
Staff Size: 11?25
Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours
Brands Used: Whaleback Mountain
Pro Tip: Get here early if you would like to rent equipment.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: We take pride in our learning programs.
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Since 1955, Whaleback Mountain?a ski slope and family fun attraction?served as a pillar of the community, until it went into foreclosure in August of 2013. That's when the Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation stepped in. The staffers at the nonprofit organization knew that Whaleback was worth protecting, so they now work to keep the area hot spot alive depending on the community's support. Under the new nonprofit model, Whaleback's 30 trails, descending 900 feet, remain open to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels and ages, whether they stick to the bunny hill or dare to explore the five double-black-diamond runs. Newbies can hone their skills with the help of the learning center's professional instructors, and strap on gear from the rental shop. After a day of speeding down expertly groomed trails, guests can unthaw at the rustic lodge, sipping drinks and sharing stories about out-skiing the on-site abominable snowman.
Mount Sunapee State Park is actually comprised of three mountains, forming a trio of forested peaks that towers over the surrounding verdant valleys and beckons outdoor enthusiasts to the slopes year-round. The 2,900-acre park plays host to Lake Solitude and a smattering of brooks as well as abundant wildlife including deer, red foxes, coyotes, wild turkeys, and the occasional black bear, moose, and bobcat. In the warmer months, amblers trek up Summit Trail to reach Mount Sunapee's apex 2,743 feet above sea level. Winter sees snowboarders and skiers flocking to the powder-topped slopes to traverse dozens of trails and snowboarding playgrounds.A 20-minute drive away, New London presents a picture of quaint New England charm, with its picturesque Main Street lined with shops, a farm stand, historic buildings, and cafés. Visitors can catch a play or musical in a historical barn-turned-theater, which has showcased summer-stock offerings for more than 75 years, during which time such notables as Taye Diggs, Laura Linney, and equine wunderkind Mr. Ed have trod the boards. Across from Lake Sunapee sits The Fells Historic Estate & Gardens, a preserved early 20th-century estate with 84 sprawling acres of manicured grounds, blooming flowers, and woodland trails. Guided walking tours take history buffs through the 22-room Colonial Revival home, which served as a bucolic summer retreat for John Milton Hay, the secretary of state under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.Rates for weekday stays at Mountain Edge Resort & Spa are less expensive than rates for weekend stays.
Mount Sunapee, hosting snow bunnies for more than 60 years, sprawls before gliding greenhorns as professional instructors lead ski or snowboard newbies toward downhill proficiency with a full schedule of daily lessons. During two-hour beginners’ sessions, students strap into provided gear, including skis or specially designed learning boards that are easier to handle than traditional snowboards made of live, rabid huskies. Groups then trudge out to the slopes, where instructors demonstrate introductory techniques and help snow-pounding protégés cultivate a well-balanced understanding of the fundamentals of their chosen downhill medium.