The Western White Mountains of New Hampshire is a true year-round paradise. Often visitors jump in the car and head North to the Western White Mountains for a day of skiing and then head home. Since they’re conveniently located about two hours from major cities like Boston, Burlington, Montreal, and Portland, it’s a great day trip destination. But with hundreds of hiking trails, two of the best ski areas in New Hampshire, great restaurants, and tons of fun winter activities, there are plenty of reasons to stay for a ski weekend to enjoy all the area has to offer. Whether you enjoy incredible natural wonders, adventure sports, arts & culture, or pure family fun, there’s an abundance of activities to keep you busy all weekend long.
Loon and Cannon Mountains
During the winter months, Loon and Cannon are THE place to be. Cannon Mountain is home to the longest vertical drop in all of New Hampshire at 2,180 feet! With 285 skiable acres, Cannon has 97 trails and glades, 11 lifts, including the famous Aerial Tramway, and a full-service PSIA Ski and Snowboard School. Located nearby, Loon Mountain Resort is New England’s most accessible year-round mountain resort destination. With a vertical drop of 2,100 feet and 370 acres, Loon Mountain has 61 trails, eight tree skiing areas, and 11 lifts. Both ski mountains are great for all ages and abilities from beginners to Olympic gold medalists. Even if you’re not a skier, you can get a Birdseye view of the Western White Mountains by taking a ride on Cannon’s Aerial Tram or Loon’s Gondola.
Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking
Thousands of hikers flock to the Western White Mountains from Memorial Day until the last leaf falls in November to enjoy hundreds of pristine hiking trails throughout the region. From Franconia Notch State Park to the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves to the Lincoln Woods Trail, there are plenty of trails to hike throughout the year. While visitors may be hesitant to hike in the wintertime, it’s easy to strap on a pair of snowshoes and discover the quiet solitude of the mountains during the snow-covered winter months. Alpine Adventures offers backcountry snowshoeing tours up Barron Mountain, and the Loon Mountain Adventure Center has a dedicated snowshoe trail system and tours.
Ice Skating and Snow Tubing
For a one-of-a-kind ice skating experience, head to the RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain. As soon as the temperatures start to drop, the crew at the RiverWalk Resort turn their 167,000-gallon outdoor lagoon swimming pool into a state-of-the-art ice skating rink open to resort guests and the public. Rent a pair of skates and twirl around the fire cauldron to your heart’s delight. The Loon Mountain Adventure Center also has an ice skating rink with rentals.
After a day of skiing or ice skating, head back to the hill and zoom down on a snow tube! Loon Mountain Adventure Center has its own dedicated snow tubing hill under the Little Sister chairlift across from the Octagon Lodge. There’s even a tot tubing area for kids under 8. You don’t need to ski to have fun on the mountain!
Wineries and Breweries
Taste some of New Hampshire’s very own handcrafted wine at Seven Birches Winery. Their delicious wine is made from locally sourced fruit and classic European grape varietals that goes great with all your favorite foods. Don’t worry beer lovers! We have you covered too. The Western White Mountains is home to two awesome craft breweries. If you like German-style beer, head to One Love Brewery in Lincoln, and the region’s original brewery, the Woodstock Brewery is always a favorite.
There’s nothing better than a cold beer and some warm apps at an après ski party. Head into town for two of the local favorites, Gordi’s Fish and Steak and the Common Man. Gordi’s was founded by Olympic skiers and had a wall full of ski memorabilia by the bar. The Common Man is a cozy spot with comfy couches and chairs near the large fireplace.
For on the mountains spots, the Paul Bunyan Room and Babe’s Blue Ox are legendary après ski bars at Loon Mountain. With live entertainment, friendly service, and a fun atmosphere, you’ll find why as soon as the lifts close, people flock to these two bars. The Cannonball Pub at Cannon Mountain has entertainment on Saturdays and a full bar pub menu.
Health & Fitness
With a collection of fitness centers and day spas in the region, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a relaxing afternoon at yoga class or the spa after a hard morning of skiing. Say Namaste at Live a Little Fitness and then head to the Solstice North Day Spa at RiverWalk Resort for a range of massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, and hairstyling for men, women, and children. The Viaggio Spa at the Mountain Club on Loon is another great full-service spa that will soothe away all your stress. Balanced Rock Bodyworks is another incredible self-care establishment in the area and offers reiki along with massages!
Many of the hotels, bed and breakfasts, and resorts have shuttles to the ski mountains so you can walk out the door in your ski boots and not have to worry about parking. The Western White Mountains offer a variety of lodging opportunities. The Mountain Club on Loon is ski in/ski out with all the amenities you’d want in a ski resort. The Indian Head Resort is a family friendly resort with hotel rooms, cottages, and even full house rentals. There’s a game room, indoor pool, and ice skating on Shadow Lake. Of course, there are plenty of small cottages and B&Bs for a more romantic weekend getaway.
Loon Mountain Ministry
You don’t have to take your ski boots off to go to church on Sundays with the Loon Mountain Ministry! Start your morning off with a unique non-denominational church service on top of Loon Mountain. You’ll spend 10 minutes at the top singing and praying before embarking on a procession down the Bear Claw trail. You can’t beat the panoramic views of this church!
So, next time you head to the Western White Mountains, stay for a weekend or even a week and enjoy all the best things the area has to offer during the winter.
For state-wide information, head to VisitNH.gov