Northeast Backcountry Ski Getaways

McLean Game Refuge, Connecticut
  |  Gorp.com
Connecticut in Winter
Connecticut in winter

Marty Griffin has a dilemma familiar to many winter lovers who live in the more urban, less mountainous areas of the Northeast. After having cross-country skied in the Canadian Rockies and the New England north country, it's hard to be satisfied with the more modest hills of home. But although you won't find multi-thousand-foot craggy peaks in Connecticut, you can find wintertime beauty. One of Griffin's favorite areas is the McLean Game Refuge just south of Granby, Connecticut.

"I like this area because you can ski here and feel that you're actually a lot farther north," she says. "It's the combination of forests and lakes and the fact that the area is untracked. It seems more remote. Of course, it's not real wilderness. But it lets me pretend."

Remote and trackless comes at a price: the laborious work of breaking trail."It's nice to have a group of more than three people," says Griffin. "So you can take turns." She recommends backcountry skis and solid intermediate skills — stopping, turning, and side-stepping — especially if you climb East Barndoors Mountain, which boasts a view north to Mount Tom in Massachusetts, but a tricky, rocky descent if the snow cover is a little thin.

"You have to be flexible to ski around here," Griffin comments. "You've got to go where the snow is." Her other choices are Gay City State Park in Hebron and the West Hartford Reservoir System in West Hartford.

Location: McLean Game Preserve, Simsbury, Connecticut.
Route 10, South of Granby Center.
Contact: (860) 653-7869.
Maps: A map is posted at the trailhead.


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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