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Check out the Unofficial Guide to Wildcat for details on things like secret stashes, best places to ski, avoiding lift lines, and other local insights on the mountain. 


Trail Map
Trail Map



One of Wildcat's strongest attributes is that is that its express quad is probably the best in all of New England. It is very fast (top to bottom in less than 7 minutes) and allows access to the entire 2,112 vertical feet and the whole mountain from one lift. You won't have a reason to touch one of the other lifts unless there is a wind hold or rare lift lines.


If the express quad is on a wind hold (which is relatively frequent), the Tomcat Triple provides access to 2/3 of the mountain. The Bobcat Triple is mostly used to access the terrain park, race trail, and groomers with snow making in the early season.


Signature Trails

The Cat's most famous trail is probably Polecat, a top-to-bottom novice trail stretch 2.75 miles. Beginners are probably bet suited cutting their teeth on Wild Kitten (off of the Bobcat Triple), but once comfortable there they should feel free to take a ride of the top. The views will reward the endeavour!


The best cruiser from the top is Lynx (a high end blue) with plenty of narrow curves and drops. Unfortunately Lynx is the last of the 3 top-to-bottom trails with regular snow making to get the attention of the mountain ops team. It is also usually one the first trails to melt out in the spring due to one rocky section about 1/3 of the way down near the lift. Due to Lynx's popularity, hit it up early in the day as it can become quickly skied off.


The Wildcat Trail is the oldest on the mountain with a storied history dating to the Depression-era CCC. Upper Wildcat is a challenging trail that is rarely groomed and great fun with good snow. During high winds it can get scoured down to bare Earth so watch out for trail closures.


Catapult is the first trail to be open top-to-bottom with snow making. Upper Catapult turns into Middle Catapult at its junction with the end of Upper Wildcat. Be careful of this junction as novice skiers often find themselves overwhelmed at this point and tend to stop in inopportune locations.


Looking for ungroomed intermediate trails? Catenary, Cougar, and Panther are where you want to be. As they sit lowers on the mountain, the snow here is much more likely to still be on the trail rather than blown into the trees.


Want to challenge your skills on marked trails? Try Feline and Al's Folly if they are open. Want to challenge yourself off trail? Go up the pub and ask one of the ski club members in the large groups to take you down Thompson Brook or Elevator Shaft.





Snow Report 


Snow Cam


Mountain Stats


Operating Season

Wildcat usually opens for the season around Thanksgiving, but limited snowmaking means that coverage can be painfully slow to expand. Wildcat is operated as a single area along with Attitash by owner Peak Resorts. Their strategy in the early season seems to be start around Thanksgiving with very limited terrain at Wildcat. They don't even turn the guns on at Attitash until the second week of December. However, once things get going at Attitash that is where they spend most of their snowmaking budget. If not the majority, a large fraction of the terrain at Wildcat operates on natural snow only and is rarely groomed.


As slow as Wildcat gets moving in the early season, it really shines in mid-winter and spring. The higher elevation and location upstream of Mount Washington provides for ample snow during Nor'Easters. When natural snow abounds, Wildcat is absolutely the place to be.


Spring skiing is where Wildcat stands out above the competition. It's elevation advantage and northern exposure allow the Cat to operate well into the spring. Some years (like 2013) it'll still have full natural coverage during the first week of April! Despite Peak Resorts showing little effort to expand coverage in the early season, they will operate Wildcat well into April long after they have close Attitash with snow on the ground. Wildcat is invariably the last resort open in New Hampshire, and one of the last to close in New England.






There are numerous hotels and condos throughout the Mt Washington Valley. The cheapest places to stay are probably north in Gorham, but most people choose to stay south in Bartlett, Jackson, or North Conway. A quick search on any travel site will bring up numerous options.


For lodging on a budget for those who like to socialize, check out the numerous ski clubs of the Eastern Inter-Club Ski Leaue (EICSL). Most offer guest lodging for $25/night per person. All have bunk beds, some in large shared rooms and some in smaller semi-private rooms. For an active (but older and calmer) crowd, check out the Ski Wheelers. For a diverse demographic who enjoy later nights but still hit the slopes, check out the Makusues. To read more about the EICSL clubs, check out this article from the Boston Globe.




Wildcat Valley Trail

The Wildcat Valley trail drops off the backside of Wildcat Mountain from the top of the express quad lift. For the daring it is an experience to remember. See this article from the Boston Globe for a description of the experience.


From the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation:



Wildcat Valley Trail - 17.8 km, Most Difficult; connects the summit of Wildcat Mountain to Jackson Village. Skiers should be in top physical condition and thoroughly prepared before attempting upper most section of trail. Skiers must walk 1 mi. Carter Notch Road to Black Mountain Cabin Trail before trail picks up again 150 meters along Melloon Road.  The J.S.T.F. parking lot is no longer available1/2 mile north of Melloon Road. Upper trail closes at 2 PM. Elev. Differential 3,240 Ft.



The Wildcat Valley Trail was cut in 1972 by the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation. Since first opening, the trail has been maintained yearly to keep it open and skiable. Skier using this trail must have a valid membership in the Jackson Ski Touring Club. Annual and daily memberships are available. A special Wildcat Valley Trail reduced rate day membership pass is available for purchase at the Jackson Ski Touring Center, AMC Pinkham Notch Camp, and at Wildcat Ski Area Skier Services. This special $14.00 ticket is valid only on the Wildcat Valley Trail to Jackson or to Rte 16. It is not valid on other groomed trails. A full day-pass is available if the skier is considering other trails. A Wildcat Valley Trail pass can be upgraded for the difference in the day's membership price.



This down mountain trail runs 17.8 km from the summit of Wildcat Ski Area to Jackson Village. The trail generally follows the Wildcat ridge to Prospect Farm passing through a magnificent stand of Birch trees along the way. Shortly after entering Prospect Farm (the trail becomes wide and graded at this point), a side trail to Hall's Ledge beckons the skier to a magnificent view of the Presidential Ridge and a perfect picnic spot. Side routes to State Highway Route 16 and Blake House and Dana Place Inn are found in the Prospect Farm area of the trail system below Hall's Ledge. The side routes are Dana Place Trail (see descriptions and map for details) and the Quail Trail starting below the Dana Place Trail and leading to the Marsh Brook Trail then to the Dana Place Trail (again the map is invaluable). Near the terminus skiers can choose the Dana Place Trail or turn left on the Blake House Trail (frankly, not a great trail that is steep, rocky and crosses drainages that are frequently open). The Blake House Trail ends at the Blake House. The Dana Place Trail ends on Rte 16 just south of Dana Place Inn.

If skiers choose to ski to Jackson on the rest of the Wildcat Valley Trail, a 1 mile walk on Carter Notch Road is necessary due to a landowner requesting his land no longer be used for skiing. The lower trail follows mostly moderate terrain for nearly 10 km. and passes through the Eagle Mountain Fields and follows the Yodel trail to the village area.



A special $10 Wildcat Ski Area Pass for uphill skiing at Wildcat Ski Area is necessary if you choose to ski up the Polecat Ski Trail to the summit start of the trail.  Alternately you can choose to purchase a Wildcat Ski Area one-ride lift access to the summit for $12.  Access passes to the summit of Wildcat Ski Area are available for purchase at the Skier Services desk in their base lodge.  These fees are in addition to a Jackson XC Trail Pass.  A special $14 Wildcat Valley Trail Pass is available at the Jackson Ski Touring Center or at Wildcat Ski Area Skier Services Desk.  Parking is limited on busy days. A taxi service is available to take skiers to Wildcat Ski Area. Contact Fast Taxi 603-356-0000 or Village Taxi 603-356-3602.  You can choose to leave your car at Blake House, Dana Place or at a number of places in the village area.





Nestled among the granite of New Hampshire's White Mountains, Wildcat is a throwback to an era of skiing's yesteryear. No fancy lodging. A simple lift system. Moderate snowmaking. But also some of the best skiing and snowboarding in all of New England. With Mt. Washington staring straight back at you as you stand atop the summit, Wildcat is a collection of rugged trails, gnarly glades and usually more snow than any ski area in the region. Telemarkers can find heaven off the backside of the summit as Wildcat connects to the extensive Jackson cross country network. The wind can be a problem and the snow is not always reliable but when the conditions are on, you will be hard pressed to find a more natural skiing and riding experience anywhere.Wildcat is located 30 minutes north of North Conway and the heart of the Mt. Washington Valley. A variety of restaurants, bars and outlet shopping options as well as a number of alpine and cross country skiing areas make North Conway the perfect place to stay while getting in your runs at Wildcat. Be sure to visit quaint Jackson for a vintage New England experience.

Snow making percent90
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Magic carpet1
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Triple3
Lifts-Chair Lifts-High speed quad1
Lifts-Total number of lifts5
Lifts-Total lift capacity6,700 skiers/hour
Trails-5-Terrain park1
Runs-Steepest runUpper Wildcat, 27 deg.
Runs-Longest run2 3/4 miles
General-Base elevation1950'
General-Vertical drop2112'
General-OwnerPeak Resorts
General-Mountain rangeWhite Mountains
General-Annual skier visits100,000
General-Back country accessWildcat Valley Trail
General-Total area in bounds225 acres
General-Snow making coverage200 acres
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC


Pros: no lines, reasonable prices, amazing views, fun trails, trees, challenging terrain, fast lift

Cons: wind (lift holds, scoured surfaces), snowmaking capacity

Wildcat is everything that most Vermont resorts are not. It's closest cousin in New England is probably Cannon.


Wildcat probably gets the most snow of any resort in the area which generally makes up for its mediocre snowmaking. The ungroomed terrain is really where Wildcat shines. Terrain is challenging. Beginners won't want to try the blues.


There are some wide open cruisers, mostly on the lower half of the mountain. There are an even greater number of challenging narrow trails and plenty of vertical rocky drops. For the adventurous expert skier, there are unmarked frozen brooks like Thompson Brook and Elevator Shaft.


The views are amazing, but the weather is unforgiving. Wildcat is located across Pinkham Notch from Mount Washington so the winds are often unforgiving. If you can hear the wind blow from you room in North Conway then the lifts are probably not running. This can happen multiple times per week, especially a day or two after a big storm.


Lift lines are generally short if they exist at all. If the high speed quad does have a line, the Tomcat Triple right next to it will not (if it is running).


The lodge is spartan and ammenities lacking. If you're looking for good food, slopeside lodging, and groomed slopes will ample snowmaking then go somewhere else. Nearby Bretton Woods, Attitash, Sunday, and the entire state of Vermont await you.


If you're looking to find real local skiers, head upstairs to the pub and look for the groups in the middle of the room. They are quite likely members of the numerous local ski clubs. Ask them if you can take some runs.


Pros: Views of Mt. Washington and deep powder.

Cons: Winds can be brutal.

I worked on the Wildcat Ski Patrol for a year. When the weather is good Wildcat is the best. When the wind hits 60 mph and the temp. is -10 the mountain is too challenging.


Pros: Fast trails, cool locals

Cons: Freezing a** cold. Lots of obnoxious tourists in NH

Wildcat is another under rated Mt located just outside of North Conway (or Bartlett i cant remember). Theres a lot of stuff going on at that mountain, i saw a lot of family groups of skiiers there. That doesnt mean its warm though. It is a windy Mt and the trails are really wide. A good overall skiing experience for the N.East. Prices on passes are really good. 


Pros: Very short liftlines, AMAZING views of Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range, wicked terrain, fastest summit lift around.

Cons: Tons of cold and windy days, quite aways out from North Conway and nearby towns,

Now with the cons as a start, YES they are true. But as they may be an inconvenience to some; many people, as well as myself may feel it's a blessing in the end. The temps can be and often are staggering. Though, being literally across the street some of the worst weather on Earth, it surprises me very little. (I've visited in the dead of Feb. seasons prior, so I definitely see where the common con of the cold weather comes in) 

Though it doesn't damper the excitement of pulling in to the parking lot, and getting a first glimpse of the Wildcat Express zooming up the mountain at warp speed and the endless (uncrowded) 2,112 foot vertical awaiting you! I also love the feeling of getting out of the car and looking to one side to see the trails of Wildcat, and with a turn to the other side, the colossal mass of mountain that is Mount Washington.

Another con, is the quite noticeable distance from Wildcat to the town of North Conway. This one is a bit more of a set back in terms of what to do off the mountain with plentiful amenities and adjacent eateries nearly absent. But the trip up to Wildcat is not meant to be spent looking for such (and the base lodge food is great).     It is a mountain made to shred. That is what pressed me to love this mountain only more. As well, the town of North Conway is still within about a reasonable half hour's drive so a great dinner in town after skiing, and a myriad of hotel options to stay is always there! The town of Jackson is also nearby and has some sweet restaurants and area to visit along Rte. 16.

So that is my general observation and opinion of the mountain and the surrounding area. In brief summary, it is a hardcore mountain made to ski and ride, with some pretty brutal weather (very inexperienced or early on beginner skiers may have a hard time enjoying the mountain as much as myself and more advanced and seasoned skiers and snowboarders on the harsher days especially) but the terrain, the staff, the crowds and the views never disappoint.  


(Tip: on the windiest and colder of days, always have an extra layer/fleece and balaclava in tow, you will need it. If you're prepared for the weather, your experience at Wildcat will be tons more enjoyable)                                                                                                                                              


Thanks to those who took the time to read this, sorry for this essay of a review! I just wanted to send out my thoughts about this mountain :D   I love Wildcat!                                                                                   


Pros: The people that ski there. Old School New England Trails

Cons: Weather is very changeable.

I'll keep it short. Agree with comments above. This place is blast to ski. The coolest thing about mountains like this and Cannon is the type of skier it attracts. Good skiers who are generally super nice and don't show off even though the average ski mom on this hill probably raced in college. It can go from relatively warm to full raging storm to nice 3 or 4 times a days so listen to the forecast.


Pros: Terrain, Vertical drop, Wildcat Trail, Thompson's, Views, snowfall,

Cons: cold, windy, long drive

Wildcat has been my favorite ski area in New Hampshire since I was a kid.  It's 2,112 vertical drop is all right there, straight down the old gondola line.  Elevator Shaft is a blast!  Fantastic views of Mount Washington and Tuckerman Ravine from just about every trail.  Wildcat has a classic base lodge and offers a lot of great deals on lift ticket prices.  Can be cold and icy so be prepared.  Wildcat is a classic ski area there is no base "village" or lodging at the ski area but there are lots of lodging options in the nearby towns of Gorham, Jackson and North Conway.  Thompson's is one of the most extreme runs to be found in New England.


Pros: great scenery, interesting terrain, moderate crowds and prices, long season

Cons: no base area lodging, rather remote, can be cold


Wildcat is a very special ski mountain, particularly because of the old-timey character of the terrain; curvy runs with blind drops, unexpected glades, secret frozen streambeds, huckable rock outcroppings, and more. Not as big as some of the major VT resorts, but you'll get quality over quantity skiing. It is one of my favorites in the Eastern US. Good vertical (~2000'), one well placed high speed quad chair to serve that full vertical, moderate-light crowds, longish runs (~50 of them) with interesting terrain variety mostly in the vein of hard blue/easy black. There are a couple of long, wonderful green runs (Polecat, Wild Kitten) for strong-legged beginners. This ski area is set among some of the best, if not THE best, mountain scenery in the East and faces Tuckerman's Ravine and Mount Washington. No lodging or commercial development at the base. This is a pristine, beautiful place, usually with relatively good snow conditions. Wildcat can be very cold in the dead of winter, but is highly regarded as a top Eastern spring ski destination. There are many motels, restaurants, and shops about 20 miles to the south in North Conway, some to the north in Gorham too. There are several other good ski areas within 30-60 minutes drive time. 

Trip report with three photos from a two-day visit in 2005:  http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=838&mode=headlines


Wildcat is one of the toughest mountains in the east.  It has steep downhills and very tough conditions.  If you can ski this you can pretty much ski anything.