White Mountain National Forest

Tuckerman's Ravine, White Mountains National Forest
Tuckerman's Ravine, White Mountains National Forest (iO2)

Both downhill and cross-country skiing are options for winter visitors to the Forest. Along with extensive systems of cross-country skiing trails maintained by the Forest Service, four large commercial alpine ski areas have permits to operate in the Forest. For hardcore ski bums, though, the expert backcountry downhill of Tuckerman's Ravine is the only way to go.

Tuckerman's Ravine

Located on the east shoulder of Mt. Washington, Tuckerman Ravine is world famous for its spectacular scenery, deep snow, and challenging skiing terrain. Each spring thousands of skiers trek up Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Route 16 at Pinkham Notch Camp to the headwall of Tuckerman Ravine for the spring skiing pilgrimage. The season starts in March and can last as late as June. Temperatures here fluctuate rapidly, and the Forest Service posts rangers in the Ravine to forecast avalanches and ice falls (which occur frequently). The Forest Service advises that Tuckerman's Ravine is for expert skiers only due to its steep slopes and rapidly changing conditions.

The AMC staffs a caretaker in the area who oversees the club's camping shelters there. Camping in the area is limited, and tickets must be bought at Pinkham Notch Camp before hiking the two-and-a-half miles to the Ravine. All equipment, food, and clothing must be carried in.

Cross-Country Skiing

Along with hiking trails and old logging roads, nordic types can cruise through hardwood forest and past great White Mountain vistas on trails maintained by the Forest Service specifically for cross-country skiing. For a backcountry destination that doesn't require winter mountaineering skills, try the Wilderness Trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The Beaver Brook ski trails, near Franconia Notch, come in beginner, intermediate, and advanced varieties, with the most difficult trail also offering the best views. Watch out for moose—they frequent the area.

Wildlife is also in abundance along the Upper Nanamocomuck Trail, a long, scenic jaunt that gives you the chance to view one of the Forest's few bog ecosystems. Access points for this trail lie along the Kancamagus Highway.

Winter campers might consider the Hayes Copp Trail, which begins at the edge of the parking lot at Dolly Copp Campground. Located on what was once a farm, the Hayes Copp runs for eight miles to the edge of the Great Gulf Wilderness in the Presidentials. The Hayes Copp is ungroomed, like many of the ski trails in the Forest Service system. While that might seem frustrating, the flip side is that the use of all Forest Service ski trails is free.

USFS Nordic Ski Trails

Beaver Brook Trails
Greeley Ponds/Livermore Road Trails
Hayes Copp Trail
Lafayette Trails
Lincoln Woods Trails
Lower Nanamocomuck Trail
Oliverian/Downes Brook Ski Trails
Smarts Brook Trails
Upper Nanamocomuck Trails
Zealand Valley Trails

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 20 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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