Expert Ski Trails for Your NH Winter Bucket List
Best World Class Skiing, Double Black Diamond
It's always nice to see a trail before you actually ski it to know what you're in for. It's even more important when the trail is a double black that has tested the prowess of the best ski racers in many a top-level competition. Before you commit to True Grit, take the Sunnyside Triple to the top, and along the way decide whether you're ready to tackle the #11 trail on the Ski Channel's "Gnarly 99" list. It starts out steep and just keeps going, with half of the trail groomed and the other half bumped up.
Best Trail to "Shut up and Ski", Black Diamond
You know those people who talk a lot about skiing? They're always quoting a product review, or bragging about their top-of-the- line equipment. Well, those folks probably won't enjoy skiing Hardscrabble, a skinny, twisty trail-a true and pure skiing experience, without the bells and whistles of man- made snow or grooming. It's hardscrabble, rough-and-tough skiing. And it's loads of fun.
Best Run for Experts to Rip, Double Black Diamond
If you prefer long, steep runs, you'll love Ripsaw on South Peak. Ripsaw was cut in 2009, and prevails as Loon's only double black. Pay attention to the orange-and-black "Experts Only" sign. About a mile long, the trail descends 1,800 vertical feet, with twists, turns, and views of Franconia Notch and the town of Lincoln along the way. The steepest section crosses under the Lincoln Express Quad. Just to be clear, the "Experts Only" sign refers to skiing and riding ability-not how epic your yard sales are under the lift.
Best Sugar High: Tree Skiing, Black Diamond
The 2012-13 season brought lift access via the Telegraph T-bar (yes, a T-bar!) to Mount Stickney Glades, previously accessed by earning your turns-hiking rather than riding a lift to access trails. Warm up with a hot cocoa by the indoor woodstove in the solar-powered Mount Stickney Cabin, or refuel with a snack on the sundeck. Or tap your inner kid and roast marshmallows at the outdoor stone fireplace. Before your sugar high wears off, ski Number 5 on Stickney. You'll need the boost to tackle the steep, tight tree run.
Best "Goose" Bumps, Black Diamond
Scope out the bump lines as you ride the North Peak Triple over Upper Flying Goose. The trail features a mogul course where Sunapee's freestyle team trains, but there's plenty of room for everyone to bump it up. It's a great place to improve your technique, since the sides of the trail are groomed flat and mogul-free in case you need an escape route. If you want to know how you rank against the competition, sign up for the Mueller Cup Mogul Thing Race, where amateur skiers of all ages compete on Flying Goose for the title of Mogul King and Mogul Queen.
Best Powder Stashes, Double Black Diamond
For fresh powder stashes, follow Upper Recoil from the peak and pop into the tight entrance on skiers' left to Recoil Glades. The trail is protected from the wind, but the deciduous trees minus their canopy of leaves in the winter let the snow accumulate.
Best Sun-Baked Bumps, Black Diamond
For bumpers, black-diamond Koessler has a moderate pitch with clean mogul lines. Since the sun hits Koessler first thing in the morning, you'll have all day long to bump it up on soft hero snow. Ride the Schneider Triple (named in honor of Herbert Schneider, Cranmore's former owner and longtime general manager, and son of Austrian Hannes Schneider, father of modern skiing, who made Cranmore Mountain his new home in 1939) to ski laps on Koessler. When your legs turn to rubber, kick back and refuel at Meister Hut, located at the top of Koessler, with views of Mount Washington.
Best West Coast Glades, New Hampshire Style, Black Diamond
Ride Ragged's Six Pack high-speed chairlift- the only one in the Granite State-to the peak and take in the awesome view of Mount Washington before heading down the headwall of Rags to Riches. After the top section, the trail opens up-like the vast ski bowls out West. Make arcing turns through this natural basin nestled between Ragged and Spear peaks.