Arguably the best mountain for skiing in New Hampshire , Cannon Mountain (I-93, Franconia,603/823-8800, www.cannonmt.com , $64 adults, $46 teen 13–17, $36 youth 6–12 and seniors, free children under 6) has everything a serious skier could want—challenging runs, varied terrain, and a vaunted history that goes back to the beginnings of the sport. Just as refreshing, its location in the middle of a state park means that the base lodge hasn’t been built up into a spa/resort/condo complex like some mountains we could name. The biggest downside is the lack of perfect grooming—not that there is much you could do with the sheets of ice that sometimes form on this side of the Whites.
Speaking of overly developed mountains, Loon Mountain (60 Loon Mountain Rd., Lincoln, 603/745-8111, www.loonmtn.com , $73 adult, $63 teen 13–18, $53 youth 6–12 and senior, free children under 6) gets hit hard by the crowds, especially on vacation weekends. Come during the week, however, and you’ll find a cruiser’s paradise, with 45 trails spread out between two lifts, with snowmaking covering almost every inch. A new sky gondola sticks it in Cannon’s eye by proclaiming it the longest gondola in New Hampshire . As might be imagined, the view from the top is amazing, with jagged peaks in every direction you look.
Nestled in a valley with its own charming base village, Waterville Valley (1 Ski Area Rd., Waterville Valley, 800/468-2553, $67 adult, $57 teen 13–18, $43 youth 6–12 and seniors, free children under 6) doesn’t offer the thrills of Cannon or Loon, but does offer excellent value for families, and a few expert runs so dad won’t get bored while he’s waiting for the kids.
The undiscovered gem of the area may be Tenney Mountain (151 Tenney Mountain Rd., Plymouth, 603/536-4125, www.tenneymtn.com , $40–49 adults, $30–39 youth 6–17 and seniors, free children under 6), a smaller mountain that nevertheless offers many exhilarating trails with lots of well-carved turns and glades. Many of the runs are left ungroomed for powder skiing. You won’t find any real expert trails here, but you won’t ever find any crowds either.