North Shore skiers thrive in midwinter. Maybe we’re hardy, maybe we’re mad, but we know we’ve got plenty of cozy options at our favorite resorts when ready to come in from the cold.
Within Easy Reach
“Last year, we learned how adaptable our guests were, and how we can all still pull together and enjoy the great outdoors,” says Louise Smith, the marketing director at New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain. She expects that to hold true this winter.
Loon is right off I-93 and boasts 11 lifts that whisk you up three peaks to 61 trails. A friend in Andover leaves home at 6, arrives at 8, skis until noon, grabs a burger, and then drives home.
The big news here is the brand-new Kanc 8, an eight-seat, heated bubble chair that replaces the Kancamagus Express Quad and can take you from the parking lot to the upper mountain in 4.5 minutes.
From there, you can tuck into other areas of this 3,050-foot mountain. Find your rhythm on blue cruisers like Flying Fox and Blue Ox, a challenge on the black Upper Flume, or smaller crowds on South Peak. Warm up with chowder or grilled panini and cold brew at the cozy Summit Lodge, best views around, or drop down to Camp 3 for the popular burgers.
Snow is reliable, thanks to 99 percent snowmaking with top-to-bottom coverage options, produced by new energy-efficient snow guns.
One of New England’s best slopeside options is to stay at the Mountain Club on Loon—choose a romantic room for two or a boisterous suite for ten. Get memorable massages at The Mountain Spa & Wellness Center or watch the skiers zip by from the rising steam of the outdoor whirlpool. The weekend breakfast buffet will fuel you up to step outside and glide down to the White Mountain Express Gondola. loonmtn.com
Retreat to Maine’s Quiet Western Mountains
Sunday River in Maine has room to roam: three miles over eight peaks, from White Cap to Jordan Bowl, and gorgeous views of rolling mountains. Sniff the fresh air, tilt your face to the wintry sun, then hurl down a corduroy-groomed Risky Business, choose between Obsession and Salvation, or meander along the Three Mile Trail. Journey over to Jordan Bowl, and lunch on the sunny deck at Sliders.
For the youthful and nimble, those able to rise high and come down in one piece, Sunday River has five terrain parks, from the Go Big or Go Home T72 to Wonderland for little rippers.
Many choose the roomy South Ridge Lodge as their base camp and take the Chondola (chair or gondola) to Peak Lodge, known for both its sticky buns and Bloody Marys. Portland restaurateur Harding Lee also oversees The Last Run Room in the Grand Summit Hotel. Dine outdoors in heated igloos and lean-tos. Walk along the new Après Aglow trail, lights, hot chocolate, and bonfire included.
To rest and rejuvenate, stay on-mountain at the Jordan Grand and reserve the Mountain Serenity Treatment at the Jordan Spa. Or step back in town and time to The Bethel Inn, a rambling 18th-century gem. Stroll down Main Street to the new Maine Mineral & Gem Museum, which just added Earth’s largest chunk of Mars to its collection. sundayriver.com
Topnotch at Stowe: Ski, Relax, Recharge
Stowe, Vermont, takes its wellness seriously, and nowhere is that more apparent than at Topnotch Resort, a 120-acre woodsy haven with just 68 rooms off the access road.
A free shuttle takes you to Spruce Peak at Stowe, ski capital of the East, with 12 lifts and 40 miles of skiing. Topnotch caters to both the first-light, first-lift types—weekends and holidays Stowe’s Forerunner Quad opens at 7:30 a.m.—and the rest of us. Some may prefer to linger at breakfast, eating farm-fresh eggs and gazing through floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a snow-clad Mt. Mansfield.
Chillax on a winter stroll along the Stowe Recreation Path. Mix your day with fitness activities from Pilates to Vinyasa Yoga, Quigong to Chakra Balancing. You can do as much or as little as you like. No one is judging you.
The pièce de resistance at Topnotch is the 35,000-square-foot spa. A cascade waterfall hydro-massages while an indoor pool with a dedicated lap lane lets you stretch out. Steam room, sauna, and shower help ease any stress. The spa has 30 treatment rooms.
After a day outdoors, the ravenous reserve at The Flannel, which uses seasonal, fresh ingredients from local farmers, Vermont cheesemakers, and culinary artisans. The Roost offers more of the same in a more relaxed setting with a kids’ menu. A few dog-friendly rooms come with dog beds and bowls.
With pools, firepits, and lights, at night Topnotch draws you into the cold, to watch the woods fill up with more snow on snow on snow. topnotchresort.com
Prefer to stay closer to home?
Weather permitting, the North Shore Nordic Association grooms the trails running through the woods and open fields of Appleton Farms and the Grass Rides in Ipswich and Hamilton, thanks to the Trustees of Reservations. Crisp, sculpted tracks make you feel as frisky as the horses that gallop through here in the off-season.
NSNA is a nonprofit funded by donations. Trails are open sunrise to sunset to the public and are free for all to enjoy. nsnordic.org