Backcountry ski tours in New Hampshire

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 23-30, 1996

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Backcountry ski tours in New Hampshire
Q: Could you recommend an easy overnight backcountry ski outing in Vermont or New Hampshire for newbies? Something with not too much elevation gain but with nice views would be great.
John Puziss
Meriden, CT
[email protected]

A: For a moderately challenging overnight ski trip that doesn't involve schlepping your winter camping gear along with you, head up to New Hampshire's White Mountains. The Appalachian Mountain Club operates eight backcountry huts along 56 miles of the Appalachian Trail, each with coed bunkrooms and kitchen facilities. I recommend the seven-mile ski trek to Zealand Falls Hut at 2,700 feet, on the banks of cascading Whitewall Brook. The hut is open year-round, and $18 a night will get you a bunk bed, full use of the kitchen, and an evening in front of a roaring woodstove. The next day, ski the seven miles back down to the trailhead off Route 302 in Twin Mountain, or ski one of the several trails branching out from the hut. (Photo, above, is at the Zealand Falls trailhead.)

To fine-tune your beginner's skills, you may want to consider signing on with one of AMC's many group trips. For spectacular White Mountain views and a healthy dose of backcountry instruction from AMC experts, opt for their Introduction to Backcountry Skiing weekend, a two-day workshop designed for beginning skiers. During the day, you'll get into the forest and ski over varied terrain on ungroomed woods roads and trails, learning how to negotiate your way up and down hills. You'll spend the night in AMC's Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, where you'll receive instruction in evaluating snow conditions, waxing, equipment, clothing, and backcountry safety. The two-day course costs $80 per person, not including lodging. Expect to pay $24 per person per night for a shared bunkroom or $55 per night for a private double.

Another option is their three-day backcountry trip through the Pemigewasset Wilderness, a secluded valley in the heart of the White Mountains. Its spectacular mountain and lake views and moderate terrain make it ideal for backcountry skiing and winter camping. You'll need to have some cross-country skiing experience and be able to ski with a full winter pack. Cost of the trip is $180 per person, including instruction, lodging Friday night at Pinkham Notch, shuttle transportation, and all meals. Winter camping gear is also available with advance notice. For reservations or information on trip departures, call the Appalachian Mountain Club at 603-466-2727.

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