Photo Courtesy of a TripAdvisor Traveler/Gail SLake Solitude (close to the summit)

Families will love:

  • Location - just a scant 1.5 hours from Boston
  • Skiing mountain with topnotch ski school
  • Year-round outdoor family fun

Location, location, location. That's what sets Mount Sunapee apart from similar ski areas in the East. A scant one-and-a-half hours away from Boston, it's within easy striking range for a day trip from the city without driving half the day to get there. However, unlike other ski resorts in southern New Hampshire (Ragged Mountain, Pat's Peak, Gunstock), Sunapee isn't a ... more
Location, location, location. That's what sets Mount Sunapee apart from similar ski areas in the East. A scant one-and-a-half hours away from Boston, it's within easy striking range for a day trip from the city without driving half the day to get there. However, unlike other ski resorts in southern New Hampshire (Ragged Mountain, Pat's Peak, Gunstock), Sunapee isn't a glorified mole hill. With two peaks and a vertical drop of 1500 feet from the summit, this is some real big mountain skiing. The most popular trail from the summit, the winding Ridge trail, is two miles long and offers a good 30 minutes of skiing to get all the way down.

Sunapee's other claim to fame is its snow -- as the mountain likes to boast, the mountain has been named the best snow in the East umpteen times in the last many years by Ski Magazine. The key to that, of course, lays at its base, the pristine Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire's second largest lake (after Winnipesauke), which supplies unlimited capacity for snowmaking. Other mountains have to conserve water and be judicious about where exactly they spray their snow guns. But as soon as it's cold enough, Sunapee lays on the powder with a trowel. Because the mountain is able to pack it so deeply, they are able to use special equipment and advanced grooming techniques to shape the powder. The result is a joy to ski on, granting a rich powder experience that lasts well into the afternoon without being skied-out.

That emphasis on grooming has been a personal obsession of Tim and Diane Mueller, the mountain's managers since 1998, who also operate Okemo in Vermont (and Crested Butte in Colorado). Like Okemo, Sunapee is emphatically a family skiing mountain. On weekends in winter, the base lodge is crammed with kids, and one of the mountain's strong points is its ski school, which occupies an entire bunny hill to itself off the main mountain. The mountain's terrain, to be sure, isn't the most challenging in the East by a long shot, but for a well-rounded skiing experience for the whole family, Sunapee offers a great balance of convenient location and decent size with skiing for a variety of levels. And because of that medium size, there's a friendliness on the mountain that larger, more anonymous ski resorts can't match, with many of the workers there knowing skiers by name and welcoming them back year after year.

Finally, while many ski areas struggle to define themselves as a four-season destination, Sunapee barely has to work at it. Again, the big draw is Lake Sunapee, which transforms itself in summer in a vision of classic Americana -- kids hanging out at ice cream stands and sailboats and paddleboats plying the lake. Mount Sunapee itself is located within the boundaries of a state park, so there is no overbuilt condo-ization going on here. While some may bemoan the lack of ski-in/ski-out convenience, the area more than makes up for it with a small town atmosphere that is classic New Hampshire. While some 80 percent of skiers at Mount Sunapee are daytrippers from the city, those that do stick around after the sun goes down finds a welcome hospitality in the inns and taverns that surround the area that bring out the best in small town New England.

Written by Michael Blanding less

Mt. Sunapee, NH Planning & Tips
Traveling Family with Baby

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