Northeast Backcountry Ski Getaways
Down in Massachusetts the mountains are lower, rounder, softer. There are no wind-driven plumes on the summit of modest Mount Toby, located near Sunderland, in central Massachusetts. But in an area of gentle, wooded summits, where panoramic vistas are few and far between, Mount Toby offers a reward to those who climb to the top: a fire tower and a view.
"On a good day, you can see all the way to Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire," says Miriam Gorham, who leads trips in the area. She recommends the Mount Toby Reservation, owned by the University of Massachusetts, for skiers who have mastered the basics of stopping and turning."The view is best in winter, because the foliage is down."
According to Gorham, the trails offer a variety of terrain for intermediate skiers, including old logging roads that time has shrunk into the kind of trail that makes for great skiing: They're wider than hiking trails, with fewer obstacles and more even grades. Nonetheless, there are plenty of uphill workouts and downhill thrills. "It's not difficult terrain, but it's not for rank beginners," says Gorham. "You're probably better off with steel-edged backcountry skis over lighter-weight touring skis although if you've got skinnies and know how to use them, you'll be okay."
Location: Plowed parking for the area is located on Reservation Road, 1/2 mile east of Massachusetts Highway 47, five miles north of Sunderland.
Contact: Matt Kelty, UMass Dept. of Forestry and Wildlife, (413) 545-1799.
Guidebook: Check out Skiing the Pioneer Valley by Chris Ryan, available from New England Cartographics, PO Box 9369, North Amherst, MA 01059.
Snow cover in north-central Massachusetts isn't reliable all winter long, so when Gorham puts together a trip, the announcement will often say"We'll go where the snow is." Her other nearby choices include Pisgah State Forest in nearby southern New Hampshire, Holyoke Range State Park, and Wendell State Forest.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication