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Advice on a New Hampshire Ski trip...

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

First of all, thanks in advance for any advice given following this question.  I'm a newbie on here, so hopefully this will be a relevant thread! :)

 

I am bringing my family over to New Hampshire for our first US ski trip week of 19th February 2011.   We are staying in North Conway and have a week pass for five resorts:  Cranmore, Loon, Wildcat, Waterville and Cannon.  

 

Parents are advanced intermediate (level 6-7) skiers, kids are intermediate level 5-6 and aged 7 and 10 years old.

 

A few questions that I'd really appreciate some help with:

 

We understand this is the school vacation week.  We understand it may be busy, but does this mean a 5 or 10 minute wait for a lift of an hour?  

 

Out of the resorts we have passes for, we are aware that Cranmore is closest, out of the others, which would be the best to visit over a period or a week?

 

With the epic weather that the East Coast has been experiencing and assuming it keeps up, will driving over to resorts like Loon and Cannon be difficult bearing in mind we are based in North Conway?

 

Can anyone reccomend a good local store in North Conway for hiring ski's for the children?   We have seen some ridiculous prices for ski hire ($160+ for children) and wonder if this is just the norm and we are spoilt in Europe where is would normally be only $60 for the week?)

 

Many thanks for you help! We really are excited about coming over to ski in the US!

 

post #2 of 24

Mark, the twisty but good road to Loon is quite spectacular from a scenery perspective and worth the drive one day, though during/immediately after a storm I would wait. The hill is very much a New England Family resort, lots of terrain, and I would classify Waterville similarly but even further away and not worth the extra drive from Conway. Cannon is also a pretty drive, but the hill, like Wildcat, is more of a skiers hill than a family resort, if that makes any sense. Wildcat is spectacular for New England views. Cranmore is a relatively small mtn, has night skiing, but I would suggest is best only for convenience to North Conway. Perhaps it would be a good first stop, or for a short day of skiing, but I definitely prefer Wildcat first, than the others, than Cranmore. I have never skiied there during school break so can't help in that area, though on other weeks I find Loon busiest and I suspect Waterville would be too.     

 

For rentals, I like Bob and Terry's in North Conway, where Junior packages are $15 Joe Jones is a bigger, slicker operation and probably a bit pricier (edit: just checked, Joe Jones is the same).   

 

I love it there, typically travel 3 times a year here and suspect you will enjoy it as well. It will be busy, though, particularly the restaurants. 

 

  Blair

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice Brob2

post #4 of 24

Just to add, Wildcat is < 30 min from North Conway, Loon will be about an hour and Waterville will be probably 1:30.

 


Cranmore gets a lot of knocks but its not a horrible place, the high speed quad will be mobbed after 11 on a vacation week however, the triple if its running is slow but a good way to get moving up hill rather than standing on the bottom.

 

I will second the comment that the drive to Loon will have some amazing views on a clear day.

post #5 of 24

Cranmore should be good for an initial family ski day and it is always nice to ski close to your accommodations.  Wildcat is a must, although preferably on a day with decent visibility so you can enjoy the scenery - perhaps the best in Eastern US skiing. I suggest you ski Wildcat fairly early in your visit because you may wish to ski it a second day once you see how nice it can be. 

Although some might disparage you for not choosing to ski the bigger and snowier mountains of Western US, you have picked one of the most beautiful ski regions in Eastern US.

Another ski area I really like up there is Cannon Mtn, which has a slight bias towards advanced ski terrain.  If you find Wildcat to your liking, then I believe you would enjoy Cannon too.

Here is a trip report from last year.  I describe some of the driving involved to reach various ski areas. 

 http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=1267&mode=headlines

 

Edit:  driving in fresh snowfall could be quite challenging from North Conway to Cannon, Loon or Waterville.  Of those three believe Cannon would be easiest to reach in questionable conditions.  Cranmore is very close, Wildcat should be reachable in all but the worst conditions.  Crowds should not be too bad at Cranmore, Wildcat, and Cannon.  Loon and Waterville will be busier, but no lines likely worse than 5-10 minute wait.

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

I really appreciate the replies!

post #7 of 24

Agree with most of above and would recommend a day at Cannon as quintessential NE skiing, although DO NOT go on a windy day - wind barrels down Franconia Notch (there is a reason those pretty snow covered trees at the top of Cannon look like they do.)

post #8 of 24

The drive from N. Conway to Cannon justifies the trip along the scenic route.  Go on a day when the weather is good and watch for moose. In fact the weather would be how I would select areas: Real bad weather and I would do Cranmore. Good weather, I would drive out to Cannon once. In between, I would head to Wildcat (one of my favorites anywhere)  which is spectacular and classic and has good terrain for kids. Loon and Waterville will probably be busiest. Loon is pretty close and worth one trip but I would personally not bother with the drive to Waterville Valley. When we go that that area, about once a year, we sometimes stop at Cannon and spend the rest of the time at Wildcat which has absolutely classic New England trails and some of the best views anywhere. The road from N. Conway to Wildcat is kept in very good shape.

 

In town, there is a microbrew pub, the Moat which is pretty good for both food and beer as well as someplace with "moose" in the name (on the main road) that is OK for food and reasonably priced. Have fun.

post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post

The drive from N. Conway to Cannon justifies the trip along the scenic route.  Go on a day when the weather is good and watch for moose. In fact the weather would be how I would select areas: Real bad weather and I would do Cranmore. Good weather, I would drive out to Cannon once. In between, I would head to Wildcat (one of my favorites anywhere)  which is spectacular and classic and has good terrain for kids. Loon and Waterville will probably be busiest. Loon is pretty close and worth one trip but I would personally not bother with the drive to Waterville Valley. When we go that that area, about once a year, we sometimes stop at Cannon and spend the rest of the time at Wildcat which has absolutely classic New England trails and some of the best views anywhere. The road from N. Conway to Wildcat is kept in very good shape.

 

In town, there is a microbrew pub, the Moat which is pretty good for both food and beer as well as someplace with "moose" in the name (on the main road) that is OK for food and reasonably priced. Have fun.


It would appear we almost have identical tastes but I am going to have to vote 1 thumb down on the Muddy Moose. Good for kids, but not so hot food.  2 thumbs up for the Moat but it is crowded during busy weeks. Otherwise I think our posts are bang on.  

post #10 of 24

The one thing I haven't liked about N. Conway is the dining. The only place I actually enjoy there is the Moat (which is good but by no means great.) I have tried maybe 10 restaurants there and have considered all of them tourist traps. The Muddy Moose I recommended because: the person has 2 children and kids seem to like the place, and it is somewhat less overpriced than most of the places we have tried. We have been to the area often but keep looking for a good meal, any recommendations Brob2?

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post

The one thing I haven't liked about N. Conway is the dining. The only place I actually enjoy there is the Moat (which is good but by no means great.) I have tried maybe 10 restaurants there and have considered all of them tourist traps. The Muddy Moose I recommended because: the person has 2 children and kids seem to like the place, and it is somewhat less overpriced than most of the places we have tried. We have been to the area often but keep looking for a good meal, any recommendations Brob2?


I agree with your take in North Conway dining. Not a fan. However, 12 kilometres  north in Jackson there is a variety of good to fine restaurants, including The Wentworth (a bit faded but wonderful meals and wine list)  the Inn at Thorn Hill (exceptional, pricey, great wine list) and Thompson House (but a bit too popular for me). In North Conway I like the Stonehurst (beside the hospital) for reasonable fine dining. Their food is quite good, again the ambiance a bit dated. The White Mountain Resort at the base of the Cathedral Ledge also has a crowded but delicious weekend brunch. 

 

For lunch 2 great little finds are the J-Town Deli and Country Store in Jackson (also has a great hot breakfast before a day at Wildcat) and the Local Grocer, across from Joe Jones on Main. They also have a friendly Bernese if you or the family are going through dog withdrawal.  

 

I don't see much in the way of mid priced good food there, unfortunately, but hope this helps a bit?  

 

regards,

Blair

post #12 of 24

Some random rapid fire thoughts from a N. Conway veteran......

 

Red Parka for steak in Glen, yum! Top notch, but can be crowded....pick your time carefully.

 

Remember that Sunday River is within range of N. Conway and Attitash is nearby as well.

 

Your crew would really enjoy Bretton Woods but again any trek on RT 302 can be challenging and can easily take an hour or more on sketchy roads.....Cannon, Loon and Waterville could become treks. I wish you had asked about that before you purchased your tickets....If you stick to your 5 mountain plan you are going to be doing way too much driving. Additionally, Wildcat and Cannon are true skiers mountains and while intermediates can be happy there the easy stuff is limited....tho remember if these buttery conditions hold up strong intermediates can begin to venture onto some of NH's black rated trails. 

 

Little ones really love little King Pine in Madison, if you decide to go there PM me and I can give you some secret tips.....

 

From N. Conway the hills easily reached are in order:

Cranmore, Attitash, Wildcat, King Pine, Black Mountain, and Shawnee Peak - stretching it a little bit you can add in Bretton Woods and Sunday River......the Franconia Notch and south stuff on I 93 is a real stretch.

 

Arriving for first chair vacation week is absolutely mandatory vacation week at all ski areas....yep that means arriving at the hill no later than 0730....any later arrivals can become a nightmare, parking, lines the whole deal. Trust me on that above all else.....bribe the little ones with something to get out early. Keep this in mind while considering the drive to the distant areas. The first few runs on uncrowded trails with no lines are glorious!!! Arriving later than 0730 is a sure fire formula for misery.

 

Disagree with the Cranmore bashing too, fun little area and at 100% open the terrain is decent for level 7 and below skiers.....you might really like it there.

 

For chow agree on the Muddy Moose too.....there is a great little breakfast spot in mid town N Conway....upstairs something.....will post it if I find it and get a chance....

post #13 of 24

.....also trust you are aware all NH/ME ski areas in question have excellent helpful web sites.

 

Another ski forum that is very helpful with a focus only on NE/NY skiing is www.alpinezone.com.

 

You should spend some time and post over there as well.....it is a heavily moderated site but there are many friendly NH locals who post frequently that will quickly befriend you in your quest.

 

Unless we have a thaw you might be walking into some of the best NH ski conditions is recent memory. Plan your excursions carefully and bring your camera......it should be fantastic!!!

 

Again my best and strongest advice is arrive early, catch first chair then leave early if you must and enjoy the sights/shopping/food in the afternoon. The best skiing in NH is captured by early birds!!!!!

 

Re shopping I trust you are aware that N. Conway is a bit of a shopping spot....we Yanks have these things called factory outlets.....popcorn.gif

 

Enjoy, and feel free to PM me directly with any specific queries either here or on Alpine Zone!!!

 

If I don't know the answer I can get it for you....one of my offspring is a NH college student.

post #14 of 24

More commentary on the dining scene in North Conway: we did try the Inn at Thorn Hill and had a good meal there but I just felt that it was not a good value given the price. The Mt. Washington Hotel dining is actually pretty good for an hotel, and one of the better in the area. I've stopped at the Red Parka but it has always been too long a wait for me. I'll put the Stonehurst and Country Store in Jackson on my list for next time.

 

As for brunch?? when there are ski hills in the area??? what a novel idea!!!???

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post

More commentary on the dining scene in North Conway: we did try the Inn at Thorn Hill and had a good meal there but I just felt that it was not a good value given the price. The Mt. Washington Hotel dining is actually pretty good for an hotel, and one of the better in the area. I've stopped at the Red Parka but it has always been too long a wait for me. I'll put the Stonehurst and Country Store in Jackson on my list for next time.

 

As for brunch?? when there are ski hills in the area??? what a novel idea!!!???


Sunday is my looong drive home. I never leave on an empty stomach.  More to the point, the ex was unbearable with an empty stomach on long drives (anything over 20 minutes). But I'm not bitter. Not at all. I'm happy in my tiny new condo. Though it does make me wonder if she's noticed the batteries are missing in the smoke alarms. Or the rewiring I did in the basement.    

 

 

 

Edit- I was at the Red Paacka (as the locals [from Boston!] pronounce it) the first time the Pats with Brady won the Super Bowl. Couldn't hear for 2 days after that fiasco. I like the Parka in the summer on the back patio; it's decent with a good draft selection, but for a taverny place I prefer Tuckerman's in Intervale. And I second the Mt. Washington Dining room though it is a bit of a drive back after a big meal; the experience of an evening there is worth something alone, particularly if you have read "Hotel New Hampshire".    

post #16 of 24

Tuckerman's is a great spot but more for a drink than dinner in my experience and, as I recall, the original person with the question had 2 little children which probably makes it a less appealing option than it is for me. (or you) I wonder where John Irving eats when he is in town. For the thread originator, the Mt. Washington Hotel, which you will likely drive by if you don't stop, was the site of the famous Bretton Woods meeting which set about to restructure global (Western) economics during WW II. (Some information to amuse the tykes with as they watch for moose of the drive back from Cannon)

post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 

Wow.  A lot of advice to consider and its much appreciated.   The comment on the Whitemountain resort was especially welcome as it is where we are staying.

 

With regards the 5 mountain lift pass, it was the best offer we could find through our travel agent and we got such a good deal (hotel, flights and passes) that we couldnt turn it down.   Yes, it does seem that the drive to Cannon could be too much but I think we hope that, over the 6 days skiing we have, we will spend at least 4 at either Cranmore or Wildcat (so a couple of trips over to Cannon or Loon.

 

Agree with the potential, RE:  Skiing conditions.  I am looking, with wonder, at the snow thats currently falling in NH and when I compare it with the fact that the Alps is going through one of its most barren spells (no snow since early Jan) I think we may have made the right choice on taking our first trip to the US.  I work for a Boston based company and each time I go to the office, I make a promise to myself to get the family over.   I'm just making sure I get some skiing in as well!

 

With regards to level of skiing, the kids are quite strong skier and are skiing Reds in the Alps with reasonable ease.  I guess thats the equivelant of a difficult blue, easy Black Diamond in the US?

 

Very excited right now and constantly surfing each of the mountains websites to try to glean as much info as possible.  Will visit AlpineSki as well to get a more local view.

 

 

Once again, many thanks for the advice so far and please, keep it coming!

 

Oh, BTW, about the Mount Washington Hotel.  I read a wonderful book by Bill Bryson about hiking the Apalachian trail which talks all about it and the surrounding area.   A great read and I cant wait to see what it was all about!

 

 

Mark

post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markoncarp View Post

Wow.  A lot of advice to consider and its much appreciated.   The comment on the Whitemountain resort was especially welcome as it is where we are staying.

 


 

Mark


IMO, a good choice. I have stayed there several times and think it's great value. The restaurant is quite good (service a little slow sometimes but still OK) with absolutely spectacular views, quite decent wine list, and the outdoor hot tub shares the same great vistas. The location is perfect, in a quiet secluded area yet close to everything, and you can go north or south directly to ski or tour avoiding the traffic issues through North Conway. You are going to have a nice trip.     

post #19 of 24

Wildcat - Best scenery in the East, great when the snow is great, though they can be stingy about opening additional lifts during the week even when it's getting crowded.

 

Bretton Woods - Superb family skiing, probably none better around North Cornflake.

 

Cannon - A true skier's mountain, always feels alpine and great steeps.

 

Food in the Cornflake - a serious problem. Horsefeathers was great 20 years ago, no more. Muddy Moose is your best bet to feed a crew with pretty good food and great service. We splurged at the Mt. Washington Hotel a few times and the haute cuisine was stunningly good - not sure that I've ever had a better chicken meal than was served there. Breakfast buffets are incredible, too and they will make you anything that's not laid out on the steam tables. Speaking of breakfast, wow is it hard to find a good breakfast joint in NC ... what's up with that? Peaches? Barf. Patricia's? Ick. Eggs, homefries, and pancakes are not rocket science, gang.

 

IMHO, of course.

 

Would love for a local to weigh in on this.

post #20 of 24

As an old timer climber, I was stunned to see the White Mountain Inn built at the base of White Horse Ledge. Seems like a crime of some sort.

post #21 of 24

Markoncarp,

 

I'm just curious as to where you are coming from overseas?  I work with the New Hampshire tourism office and am glad to see such great advice and expertise given to you by the folks on this thread.  I would add a few websites for your info.  NH tourism, in partnership with Ski NH have a website up for winter information on on-slope and off-slope activities in our state.  It's at www.winternh.com and has some great resources like snow conditions, information on the various ski resorts as well as ideas for things to do.  We also have a cool photo contest going on that you can enter while here for your ski trip!  You can also check us out on www.visitnh.gov and www.skinh.com.  Cruise on over to our Twitter page (VisitNH) or Facebook (VisitNH) for more great information on vacationing in New Hampshire!  We look forward to your visit!

 

Cheers,

Tai

 

NH Division of Travel and Tourism Development

Concord, NH

post #22 of 24

might find some useful video here...black, wildcat and bretton woods were featured in this week's show

 

http://www.themountainreport.tv/

post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisitNH View Post

Markoncarp,

 

I'm just curious as to where you are coming from overseas?  I work with the New Hampshire tourism office and am glad to see such great advice and expertise given to you by the folks on this thread.  I would add a few websites for your info.  NH tourism, in partnership with Ski NH have a website up for winter information on on-slope and off-slope activities in our state.  It's at www.winternh.com and has some great resources like snow conditions, information on the various ski resorts as well as ideas for things to do.  We also have a cool photo contest going on that you can enter while here for your ski trip!  You can also check us out on www.visitnh.gov and www.skinh.com.  Cruise on over to our Twitter page (VisitNH) or Facebook (VisitNH) for more great information on vacationing in New Hampshire!  We look forward to your visit!

 

Cheers,

Tai

 

NH Division of Travel and Tourism Development

Concord, NH



Hi.   Sorry for the late reply, I've been away on business (and avidly preparing for my trip to NH tomorrow!)   I am coming from the UK, specifically an area called Berkshire (you may recognise it! smile.gif) in England.

 

Hoping that we have a wonderful trip and that it snows all night and is sunny all day!

 

Once again, thanks for all of your help and replies.

post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 

Well we had a fantastic time.  Timing probably could have been better as we arrived on the Friday (thaw) and left on the Friday (nearly 2ft of snow!) but we did get around 6 inches of Powder at Wildcat (which we skied 3 times, we loved it SO much) and another 2 inches at Cannon (which again was awesome)

 

Cranmore was pretty poor to be fair and I wouldnt visit again.   We actually put our hands in our pocket again and skied Bretton Woods which was just beautiful although not the steepest (the glades and tree skiing MORE than made up for it though)

 

This situation DID mean we had some passes left over though, so if anyone is interested in two adult and two youth booklets with TWO one day passes for either Cranmore, Wildcat, Cannon, Loon or Waterville, then please let me know.   I'm open to offers.   

 

THANKS!

 

tickets.jpg

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