Where to Earn Your Turns in the Upper Valley
While Higgerson Team is mostly known for their pursuit of great alpine skiing experiences, some of us occasionally put on skinnier skis and “free the heel” (at least on the uphill sections.) Locally, the Upper Valley has an amazing assortment of both organized and slightly more free-spirited cross country and alpine touring opportunities, some of them truly world class.
Green Woodlands Foundation
1756 NH-118 – Dorchester, NH
If you know, you know why locals rhapsodize about “The Greens.” And if you’ve been, you have probably gone back. These 23,000 acres in Lyme, Dorchester, Orford, and Wentworth, New Hampshire are privately stewarded by a family of conservationists. The over 50+ kilometers of wilderness ski trails, primarily designed by Olympian track builder John Morton (a legend in the trail world,) are open to the public during the winter season. The experience offers loaner Ski Gear, as well as a series of three warming huts and two fire pits that are stocked with the fixings for hot chocolate and s’mores. Furthermore, the ski trails are typically groomed prior to the weekend as long as there is sufficient snow on the ground. Click here for info on trail status. “The Greens” are spectacular.
Woodstock Nordic Center
76 South Street – Woodstock, VT
Open Daily – 9:00am-4:00pm (weather permitting)
Just south of the “prettiest small town in New England” lies an extensive network of winter trails that meander up the hills and over the ridges of Mt. Peg and Mt. Tom, and across what is, in the summer months, a championship Robert Trent Jones gold course. The Woodstock Nordic Center offers more than 45 km of groomed trails for skate and classic cross-country skiing. In addition to cross country skiing, the center also offers snowshoeing and allows fat biking on its trails (although it’s BYOFB as they do not have fat bike rentals). Additionally, there are opportunities for guided tours and instruction, and on select Saturdays there is a snowshoe trek up to the Mount Tom Cabin for a warm lunch. Rentals, outerwear, accessories, and trail passes are all available at the shop. Finally, if you work up an appetite out on the track, lunch and bar service are available at the Fairway Grill, Friday – Sunday 11:30am to 3pm. The Nordic Center is an excellent venue for a variety of activities and a good hot chocolate.
Oak Hill Outdoor Center
59 Oak Hill Drive – Hanover, NH
The Upper Valley has a rich history of Nordic skiing and for almost 100 years, Oak Hill Outdoor Center has been at the center of Hanover. In the 1930’s trails were cleared by Dartmouth College on Oak Hill for downhill skiing and a rope tow was added in 1935. (Oak Hill continued to be Dartmouth’s primary alpine slope until the Dartmouth Skiway was established in 1957.) Cross country trails were added at the Hill in the 1960’s and track-setting began in 1984. Dartmouth College hosted the NCAA Championships in 2003, prompting trail improvements. Recently, more routes have been added to an already beautiful network, along with expanded snowmaking and lights allowing for greater accessibility and consistency. Oak Hill offers a range of programming opportunities including the after-school Bill Koch League run by Ford Sayre and year-round training on the trail system. The community behind Oak Hill celebrates the rich history of nordic skiing in the Upper Valley and continues to steward this Hanover gem.
Since the pandemic, uphill travel by means of skinning, split boarding or snowshoeing has gained in popularity exponentially. Whaleback, which we recently featured in our Small But Mighty Local Ski Areas blog, welcomes those looking to enjoy the mountain under human power. And, in line with its community-oriented mission, the Mountain has formed an affiliation with Inclusive Ski Touring, an organization aimed at fostering inclusivity and empowerment in the ski community. This program offers tours every Sunday from January 14th through the end of the season for anyone interested in trying out the sport. If you’re a beginner, think of a supportive network of nice people focused on helping you learn to have a safe and enjoyable AT adventure, in an environment where no one is left behind. With a modest program cost and onsite equipment rental options, IST and Whaleback ensure accessibility for all. Outside of the IST programs, uphill travelers need to purchase either an uphill season pass or an uphill day pass (which can be obtained online) and obey the rules and policies established to insure the safety of everyone on the mountain. Organized or on your own, Whaleback is a great local option to enjoy the backcountry experience not too far from a warm lodge.
247 Stage Road – South Pomfret, VT
The wonderful folks who run this Pomfret jewel (The Woodstock Inn and Resort) welcome winter uphill travel enthusiasts. In addition, the “Six” ski school offers uphill lessons for those new to, or eager to improve, earning their turns. As with other alpine resorts opening their slopes to human-powered access, uphill skiers must abide by specific rules and policies including the purchase an Uphill Travel Season Pass. Uphill travel routes can be accessed from the designated resort parking area and trail information is always posted at the base of Chairs 1 and 2. The mountain has a 5-day operating week, but uphill travel is permitted on both operating and non-operating days. And with great French fries waiting in the lodge, this is the perfect place to work up an appetite.
As always, Higgerson Team is eager to spread the word about all the things that make living in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire so great. If you are looking for a new home in the area or a vacation property, we are your real estate experts in Hanover and Lyme, NH, Woodstock and Quechee, VT, and the constellation of wonderful towns that surround us. Please be in touch and let us guide you home.