Little-Known New England Ski Gems

Attitash Bear Peak
By Theodore Nusbaum
The peace and quiet of a New England winter
The peace and quiet of a New England winter

With a stirring view of Mount Washington (at 6,288 feet, it's the tallest peak in the Northeast) and located within a stone's throw of North Conway, Attitash Bear Peak is worth the trip. Their new slogan, "Rediscover Attitash Bear Peak," refers to the $32 million in renovations over the past six years, including the addition of Bear Peak in 1994—a mountain devoted to mostly intermediate and advanced terrain.

Bear Peak is swaddled with well-spaced glades of intermediate pitch (30 acres' worth), but with only 142 inches of annual snowfall, it's really just a big tease. Most runs are pounded with the man-made stuff and groomed by the cats, and with the constant flow of humanity down the slopes, eastern ice tends to rear its slippery head. While some locals dub the mountain "Atticrash," they also concede they spent little time on Bear Peak, which draws less of a crowd (yet the after-lunch rush clogged the lift lines more than expected).

Skier's right on Bear Peak blends spacious intermediate cruisers ("Snow Dancer") with narrower runs ("Cub's Cut" and "Pinball Alley"). From the top of Flying Bear High-Speed Quad, "Illusion" is a rolling, twisting, downhill burner (fast and open) filled with enough jumps, rolls, and spines to plaster a perma-smile across your face for the afternoon.

Attitash, in operation since 1964, is more typical of the traditional New England trail system, with winding, narrow, and scenic runs. Skier's right ("Saco") loops down alongside granite outcroppings and walls left over from the last ice age, 100,000 years ago. However, as the snowboarding market grows exponentially, mountains change with the times. The Summit Triple hovers just above the 500-foot in-ground halfpipe, offering a bird's-eye view of snowboarders going for broke in front of your eyes. A "Family Fun Zone" provides novices and families with a relaxed atmosphere, easygoing terrain, and baby bumps for beginners.

North Conway is just eight miles east of the resort and a rockin' good time. A multitude of restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and shops (including major outlets like L.L. Bean, Polo, and Banana Republic) lure visitors from across Mount Washington Valley. The car ride is six hours from New York City and two and a half from Boston—quite bearable when your mouth is watering for a plate of the Red Parka's homemade ribs.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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