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9 Best Ski Resorts near Boston, 2021

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers and Stillman Rogers
Dec 15, 2020

Skiers have the choice of eight different mountains where they can hit the snow within a two-hour drive of Boston, and a full-service ski resort just a few minutes farther away. No other major metropolitan center in the east has as many choices of ski mountains. Several are an hour or less from Boston.

The two-hour radius includes several resorts in southern and central New Hampshire, as well as those in Massachusetts, adding the advantage of a more snow-sure climate inland and farther north. Because of New England’s topography, the nearer a mountain is to Boston, the lower the altitude and the shorter the runs.

The order in the rankings below is less important than the descriptions of the ski resorts, as there are two separate criteria: the distance from Boston and the resort’s size and facilities. For some skiers, it’s all about the most vertical and number of trails. For others, it’s how fast they can get their family on the snow in the morning. For some, it is worth traveling a few more miles to have a greater variety of trails and terrain to choose from.

Changes for the 2020/2021 Ski Season: Facilities and procedures will be a bit different this season, as recent public safety concerns have led ski resorts to make some changes. These may differ in detail with each mountain. Be sure to check the resort’s website for their policies before planning a trip.

Whether you are looking for a nearby slope for a few runs after work (several of these have night skiing), a full day of long runs, or a weekend ski getaway, you’ll find the right mountain with our list of the best ski resorts near Boston.

1. Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire

Mount Sunapee | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

Mount Sunapee has the winning combination of 66 trails fanned across a 1,500-foot vertical drop and some of the best snowmaking and grooming in the east, adding to the 130-inch average annual snowfall. All this is less than two hours from Boston and close to Interstate-89.

High-speed quads whisk skiers to the summit in as little as four minutes, and a dedicated triple chairlift takes boarders to the Six O' Three Terrain Park, with 50 terrain features and a 4,000-watt sound system. Three other terrain parks offer different experiences.

Trails spread over more than 230 acres of terrain, with 32 for intermediates and the rest divided between beginners and experts. An entire area is designated a beginner slope, so they don’t have more experienced skiers whizzing past on their way to the lifts. The longest trail is a two-mile run. Nine glades and four mogul runs challenge experienced skiers.

Mount Sunapee was acquired in 2018 by Vail, so is now a member of the Epic Pass system, in common with Crotched Mountain and several northern New Hampshire ski resorts.

Address: Route 103, Newbury, New Hampshire

Official site: https://www.mountsunapee.com

2. Wachusett Mountain, Massachusetts

Mount Wachusett | Photo Copyright: Wachusett Mountain

Wachusett is the closest mountain to Boston that has a serious vertical (1,000 feet). Not only is it just an hour away from the city, but you can get there by train and a dedicated bus that takes skiers right to the base lodge. Its 25 trails divide evenly among experience levels and are served by eight lifts. The beginner terrain is in a separate area.

The two terrain parks have a variety of features: Frannie's Folly is a progression park for beginning and intermediate riders. Early birds love the 8am opening (9am on weekdays) and for skiers and riders with stamina enough — or for those who can get in a few runs after work — the trails are open until 10pm every night.

Along with a full selection of rental equipment (including snowshoes to use on the park’s trails), Wachusett Mountain has a demonstration center in the base lodge featuring Southern New England’s largest selection of demo ski equipment, with more than 100 pairs of skis, plus intermediate and advanced boots, snowboards, telemark skis, and backcountry AT skis.

Another highlight of Wachusett is that from the summit, you can see the Boston skyline. The ski train connection on weekends takes passengers from North Station on the Fitchburg Commuter Rail to Fitchburg, where a Wachusett Mountain bus meets the train.

Address: 499 Mountain Road, Princeton, Massachusetts

Official site: www.wachusett.com

3. Gunstock Mountain, New Hampshire

Gunstock Mountain | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

With only slightly less vertical than Sunapee and at the same distance from Boston, Gunstock has fewer trails, but a more varied set of winter sports options for the whole family. These include a cross-country and snowshoe center with 32 miles of trails, a zipline, and New Hampshire’s longest tubing hill. A Mountain Coaster operates on weekends and holidays.

Ninety percent of its 55 trails are covered by snowmaking, and 21 of the trails are lighted for night skiing Tuesday through Saturday. Although the mountain trails lean heavily to intermediate and expert, Gunstock pampers beginners at a dedicated area with its own chairlift, and a scenic green trail from the summit — a real treat for less experienced skiers who rarely get to ski from the top. The learning program is excellent, and the base area features a complete rental center and retail shop.

The view from the summit is spectacular, across the frozen expanse of Lake Winnipesaukee — New Hampshire’s largest — to the mountains beyond. Gunstock offers a number of money-saving passes. Those and its laid-back, easy atmosphere have made Gunstock a family favorite for generations.

Address: 719 Cherry Valley Road (off Route 11-A), Gilford, New Hampshire

Official site: https://www.gunstock.com/

4. Pats Peak, New Hampshire

Pats Peak | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

Although Pats Peak has less vertical than Wachusett Mountain, at 770 feet, its location inland and farther north gives it more dependable snow conditions. Interstate access — it’s only a few minutes from I-89 — and a drive of only an hour and 20 minutes are added pluses for day skiers from Boston.

Fourteen novice trails and three beginner areas make it popular with families, but experts are happy here, too, with the nine glades and eight rated expert and advanced. One-fifth of the terrain is for intermediates, and the longest run is 8,000 feet. The energy-efficient snowmaking system covers 100 percent of the trails and slopes.

Night skiing is a specialty here, with 100 percent of the main mountain lighted; Pats Peak has the most lighted double-diamond terrain and glades in the region. Here is also a tubing hill.

The newly enlarged base lodge area houses the 9,600-square-foot Starting Gate Rental Shop, the largest rental shop in Northern New England, featuring Elan's most cutting-edge ski technology. This year, Pat’s Peak has enlarged the terrace for more outdoor dining space, adding wind shields and an outdoor food pickup window.

Address: 686 Flanders Road, Henniker, New Hampshire

Official site: https://www.patspeak.com

5. Crotched Mountain

Crotched Mountain| Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

Ten minutes farther from Boston, and without Pats Peak’s easy access from an Interstate highway, Crotched Mountain has about 250 more feet of vertical and almost as many trails as Pats. All 25 trails are lighted for night skiing until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. Expect a lively atmosphere, with music, bonfires, and deals for night skiers.

Crotched Mountain has a higher ratio of expert trails than most of the southern ski areas, with about one-third of its 25 trails designated for experts, the rest evenly split between intermediate and beginner. Snowmaking, grooming, and maintenance are up to the standards of Vail resorts, which Crotched Mountain has recently joined, bringing it into the Epic Pass system.

Three separate freestyle terrain parks are designed for riders at all levels of ability. The Little Dipper Park is for beginning riders, and the levels work up the progression chain to the CM Park, a favorite of pros. Riders and experienced skiers can also take to the forested glade areas. Beginners have a dedicated area of their own.

Address: 615 Francestown Road, Bennington, New Hampshire

Official site: www.crotchedmountain.com

6. Waterville Valley, New Hampshire

Waterville Valley | Photo Copyright: Waterville Valley

Just over two hours away, Waterville Valley is the closest full-service resort to Boston; all but the last few miles are on Interstate highways. The self-contained resort is at the end of a road into the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, which surrounds the resort village. It’s not just the breadth of the resort facilities that merit Waterville’s inclusion, the more than 2,000-foot vertical drop and 265 acres of skiable terrain are added plusses.

While Waterville excels at on-site activities and multiple winter sports options — a cross-country center, ice-skating, sleigh rides, dogsledding, and swimming pools as a start — that make it attractive to families, the mountain is short on beginner terrain. Only 15 percent of the trails are green, intermediate accounts for 59 percent, and 23 percent is for advanced skiers. The south-facing slopes make it especially attractive in the coldest part of the winter, when it gets more sun than most mountains.

Free bus service between the village lodging and the slopes make the 500-acre resort virtually car-free.

Address: Route 49, Waterville Valley, New Hampshire

Official site: https://www.waterville.com/

7. Blue Hills, Massachusetts

Small, low-key, and kid-friendly, Blue Hills is also the closest downhill skiing to Boston, only a half-hour drive away. Its 635-foot elevation gives its 60 skiable acres a 309-foot vertical drop; the summit is reached by a chairlift, and the beginner area by three magic carpet lifts.

Ninety percent of the 12 trails are covered by snowmaking. Equipment rentals and lessons, along with the budget-friendly prices, make this a popular place for families with beginning skiers and snowboarders.

Lifts are open until 9pm on weeknights and 8pm on Saturday and Sunday. The 25-mile view from the top is dazzling at sunset or on a clear night when the lights of the city and seacoast are shining.

Address: 4001 Washington Street, Canton, Massachusetts

Official site: https://www.bluehillsboston.com

8. Nashoba Valley, Massachusetts

Nashoba Valley | Photo Copyright: Nashoba Valley

The 240-foot vertical here may not offer a day’s worth of skiing challenges for experts, but it is a perfect place to learn and for new skiers to take on their first blue trails. The terrain is good, snowmaking and grooming are excellent, and the 17 trails that web to 50-plus acres offer variety and a few challenges.

The learning program is especially good, with a Playground Park where younger kids and novices have space of their own. Trails are lighted until 10pm daily. Nashoba has New England's largest snow tubing park, right next to the ski area, with 18 lanes served by four lifts.

Nashoba is a 45-minute drive from Boston.

Address: 79 Powers Road, Westford, Massachusetts

Official site: https://skinashoba.com

9. Ski Bradford, Massachusetts

In Haverhill, 31 miles from Boston, Ski Bradford has 15 trails, a terrain park, and glades spread across its 60 skiable acres. The terrain is varied, so trails are well-divided between the skill levels. Even though vertical drop is only 248 feet, making the runs fairly short, some of the tails are rated for experts, so there is something here for everyone.

The entire skiable area, including glades, is lighted and covered by snowmaking. The nine lifts include three triple chairs, so skiers are kept moving instead of standing in line. Ski and snowboard lessons are available for both children and adults, and there are equipment rentals at the base lodge.

With lighting for evening skiing, Bradford is open 65 hours a week.

Address: 60 S Cross Road, Haverhill, Massachusetts

Official site: https://skibradford.com

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

Things to Do in Boston: Skiing is not the only activity available when the weather turns cold; look for more ideas at our page on things to do in Boston in the winter. Also, many of the top hiking & walking trails near Boston are open year-round.

More Nearby Places to Ski: Traveling farther north, beyond a two-hour radius of the city, you’ll find several more ski resorts in New Hampshire and within 2.5 hours of Boston are more mountains to ski in Vermont.

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