Plan Your Trip > Regional Guides > Complete Guide to Skiing from the Boston Area
Avant Ski's Complete Guide to Skiing from the Boston Area
Boston is the gateway to fantastic skiing in the northern half of the Northeast. Affectionately known as the Ice Coast, New England is home to a satisfying array of world-class ski resorts. Plus, if you can ski or ride east coast ice, you can make it anywhere! Our Boston Based contributors share their favorite "local" places to ski. We’ve included resorts from all of the major New England ski destinations – Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine – along with a glimpse at some smaller hills that are closer to home in Massachusetts.
We have the inside scoop on the best places to stay and eat. We also know the best shops to gear up before heading north in search of that elusive New England powder.
Massachusetts (Day Trips). There are several spots within the state that make for an easy day trip from Boston and have decent skiing. For those just starting out, Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton is the closest place to get your bearings. Not much more than an hour from Boston, Wachusett Mountain is the closest resort with a more true “mountain” feel.
Western Massachusetts. There are a handful of small to medium-sized resorts in Western Massachusetts. Some of our favorites include Jiminy Peak, Catamount, Berkshire East, and Ski Butternut. The drive to these resorts from Boston is ~2 – 2.5 hours.
Get ahead of the holidays. Our team shares their top gift ideas for the skiers and riders on your list. From books and puzzles to build stoke, the warmest, comfiest clothing, tech and recover tools - we have you covered.
New Hampshire, White Mountains. The White Mountains in New Hampshire are the cradle of North American skiing. The early ski pioneers in the Presidential Range here gave rise to much of today’s ski culture. These resorts offer high quality skiing about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2.5 hours driving from Boston. These resorts are reachable for a day trip but most also have plenty to do to fill a weekend. The downside? New Hampshire can become crowded. Fortunately, there are plenty of ski areas as well as back-country skiing on Mount Washington. For classic, no frills New England ski areas, head to Cannon Mountain or Mount Sunapee. For a more all-inclusive resort experience consider Loon Mountain, Bretton Woods or Waterville Valley. New Hampshire is sure to please.
Vermont. Vermont is New England’s most well-known ski destination and home to some of the biggest and best ski resorts in the region. Known for consistent snow quality, a mix of incredible terrain, and top-notch atmosphere, Vermont is one of our favorite places to visit. Southern Vermont is typically about 3 hours driving from Boston and offers a variety of resorts, from smaller favorites such as Bromley and Magic Mountain to larger resorts like Stratton, Okemo, Mount Snow, and the behemoth that is Killington. Beware though, Southern Vermont is a favorite destination for New Yorkers and can become crowded.
Northern Vermont. Those willing to drive just a little further,~3.5 hours from Boston, to Northern Vermont, will be rewarded with deeper snow, shorter lift lines and a higher stoke factor. Sugarbush, Stowe, and Smuggler’s Notch are all offer top notch terrain and snow conditions. To chase the deepest snow in New England, head up to Jay Peak!
Maine. Sometimes not given the respect it deserves, Maine has some of the longest vertical and [skiable terrain] in New England. More remote, Maine resorts tend to be appreciably less crowded than those Vermont and New Hampshire. Sunday River, ~3.5 hours and Sugarloaf, ~4.25 hours are world class resorts with fantastic skiing and après. Saddleback (4.5 hours) recently reopened, and offers incredible skiing at a reasonable price, just $69 on mid-winter weekends.
TOP RESORTS FROM GREATER BOSTON BY REGION
Blue Hills Ski Area (Starting Out)
Wachusett (Proximity & Night Skiing)
Jiminy Peak (Family Friendly & Learning)
Catamount (Vertical Drop)
Ski Butternut (Families with Young Children)
Cannon Mountain (Steep & Sidecountry)
Loon Mountain (Easy Access, Terrain Variety)
Mount Sunapee (New England Charm)
Bretton Woods (Reliable Snow, Views)
Waterville Valley (Family Friendly)
Bromley (Old School Charm)
Killington (Après & Bumps)
Magic Mountain (Laid Back & Steep Terrain)
Stratton (Learning & Vibrant Village)
Jay Peak (Deepest Snow)
Smuggler's Notch (Laid Back, Charming)
Stowe (Thrill-seekers, Luxury)
Sugarbush (Great Terrain, Classic VT Town)
Travel Time: ~1 hour drive from Boston (53 miles)
One of the largest resorts in Massachusetts, Wachusett Mountain is a right of passage for Southern New Englanders who are transitioning to the bigger mountains of Northern New England. Featuring 1,000 feet of vertical drop and 27 trails across 110 skiable acres, there’s plenty to enjoy for a full day. Wachusett provides a legitimate "mountain" feel, especially compared to neighboring hills in Southern New England - affectionately looking at you Blue Hills and Yawgoo. Plus, Wachusett is only an hour’s drive from Boston, making it easily the closest resort where you'll be able to ski anything of this scale.
Snow-making covers essentially all of the terrain here, making up for average annual snowfall of ~85" on average over the last ten years.
Drive or take the train. Parking is free. From Boston, take 1-93 N to MA-2 W; take Exit 27 for Narrows Rd; left onto Narrows Rd; then go slightly left onto Stone Hill Rd, left onto East Rd, right onto MA-140, quick left onto Park Rd. The entrance to Wachusett will be on the right.
Train: On weekends during the ski season, the MBTA runs special trains, equipped with ski racks, on the Fitchburg Line from North Station. Wachusett runs free shuttles between the resort and Fitchburg Station.
Special Programs: Wachusett offers a great value Beginner Package that includes a 4-hour session lift ticket with access to surface lifts and the Monadnock Quad (all of which serve beginner terrain), rental equipment, and a 90 minute group lesson.
This is a smaller mountain; advanced riders may find the terrain a bit lacking
Inevitable crowds, not surprising given the proximity to the larger metro areas of Boston, Worcester, and Providence
Daily lift tickets are split into two "sessions," during busier times visitors will may be limited to booking only one session per day
The closest "mountain" resort to Boston; only an hour's drive or take the train
The most reliable conditions in Southern New England, snow-making covers 100% of the terrain
Night skiing on the entire mountain is available until 9:30pm
Flexible ticketing enables skiers to purchase access exclusively to the lifts they plan to ride, meaning beginners will save on tickets
Reasonable lift ticket and season pass prices, especially compared to larger, northern resorts
Passes: Wachusett has its own season pass with a range of options from the Gold Pass, unlimited access, no blackouts, to the mid-week Steel Pass; it is not part of a multi-resort pass program
Terrain: 27 named trails, 2 terrain parks
Terrain Mix: 30% Novice, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
Average Annual Snowfall: ~ 100 inches
Vertical Drop: 1,000 ft
Lifts: 8 total - 3 high speed quads, 1 triple, 4 surface lifts
Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire
Travel Time: ~2 hours drive from Boston
Just over two hours by car from Boston, Cannon is a New Hampshire institution, and home of the first aerial tramway in the United States. The resort is known for its incredible views of Franconia Notch, it’s variety of terrain, the most vertical with 2,180' in New Hampshire, and its legendary independent spirit. Cannon's terrain spans steeps, trees if you know where to look and even some sidecountry. While the skiing is excellent, Franconia Notch can be notoriously chilly, so be sure to bundle up!
Cannon is all about the skiing —this no frills destination doesn't offer a fancy base area, fine dining, or even a hotel. While these can all be found in the nearby towns of Littleton, Lincoln, and Woodstock, the ski area itself is just that — a ski area. And that's why we love it!
Getting To: Cannon is an easy drive from Boston, just over 2 hours north on I-93 by car. The mountain is located just off of the highway and parking is free.
Special Programs: Cannon offers New Hampshire Resident Season Passes starting at $629. Season pass holders receive 20% off ski tuning and 10% off in the retail shop.
Average annual snowfall of ~160" here is on the lower end for New England; when the conditions are good, the skiing is incredible, but watch the forecast
Cannon can be downright frigid. Make sure you bundle up
Minimal base area; dining and lodging options are limited
The first aerial tramway in North America, rebuilt in 1980, whisks skiers 2.1 miles up to Cannon's peak at 4,080' in just 8 minutes
Legendary expert terrain on Cannon and Mittersill mountains.
An independent resort, Cannon offers short lift lines and unmatched mountain vibes
The nearby town of Littleton is a hidden gem and home to Lahout's – the oldest ski shop in America
Passes: Cannon has its own season pass with various options for access and ages; the White Mountain Superpass offers unlimited access to Cannon, Waterville Valley, Bretton Woods, and Cranmore; Cannon is a member of the Indy Pass
Rates: Season passes have five options by age-group and access. View rates here. Day tickets are available, but limited. Book online for the best rates. Special weekday rates available for New Hampshire residents; Kids 5 and under ski free
Terrain: 97 Trails & Glades
Terrain Mix: 15% Novice, 52% Intermediate, 33% Advanced
Average Annual Snowfall: 160 inches
Vertical Drop: 2,180 ft
Lifts: 11 total - 1 Aerial Tramway (capacity 70), 1 express quad, 2 quads, 3 triples, 1 double, 1 t-bar, 1 handle tow, 1 magic carpet
Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
Best for Easy Access, Terrain Variety
Travel Time: ~2 hours drive from Boston
Two hours on the mark from Boston by car, Loon is our top day-trip destination. Loon's pedigree is impressive — 2,100 vertical feet, rounding out the top 10 list for the Northeast, 3 mountains, 3 base lodges, 370 skiable acres - 99% of which are covered by snowmaking and New Hampshire's only Superpipe. The lift infrastructure is top notch with an uphill capacity of more than 15,000 people / hour, you won't wait long even on the busiest days.
The area is family friendly with tubing, zip lines, snowshoeing, and a climbing wall. Getting around is easy with plenty of free parking along with free shuttles running throughout the town and resort area. With varied terrain and many quality places to grab a bite or drink on the mountain, you will want to stay until the lifts stop. Then, there are dozens of restaurants, bars and shops to explore in Lincoln. Putting it all together, the size, quality of experience, relative ease of travel, and choice of activities, Loon is a "must ski" New England destination.
Getting To: Loon Mountain is an easy, 2 hour drive from Boston and 1 hour from Concord. Located just a few miles off of I-93, we prefer to have a car here. Parking is free and driving provides optionality for dining, shopping and venturing to nearby resorts. Insider Tip: day-trippers, try parking at South Peak; you'll normally be able to find closer spot to the lift from hear than from the Main Lot
Special Programs: Earn points for purchases including lift tickets, dining, lodging, rentals and more though the Boyne Rewards program. Points can be redeemed for discounts at Boyne resorts including Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Big Sky, and more.
The White Mountains can be a freezer. Loon is one of the highest peaks in the Northeast. Neighboring Mt. Washington sets records for its high winds and frigid temperatures. Check the forecast and dress accordingly
Crowds. Similar to other resorts easily accessible from urban areas, weekends and holidays can be packed
Higher costs. Loon is pricey relative to other resorts in New Hampshire. Peak lift ticket rates have eclipsed $100, so make sure to buy online, in advance
Top notch grooming and snow making capabilities — 99% of trails are covered by snow-making
Fantastic lift infrastructure with several high speed quads and a gondola. The Kancamagus 8 is one of the most technologically advanced lifts in North America
Just two hours from Boston by car, Loon is one of the most accessible big mountains in New England
The town of Lincoln is a gem with accommodations ranging from luxury hotels to budget friendly, restaurants, ski shops and art galleries
Passes: Loon has its own season pass with various options for age and access; the New England pass includes access to Loon, Sunday River, and Sugarloaf. Loon is also a partner with 5 or 7 days on the Ikon Pass.
Terrain: 61 trails, 6 terrain parks, 1 Superpipe
Terrain Mix: 20% Novice, 60% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
Average Annual Snowfall: 160 inches
Vertical Drop: 2,100 ft
Lifts: 10 total - 1 Gondola, 1 express eight-pack, 2 express quads, 1 quad, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 2 surface lifts
Image Courtesy of Northstar Resort
Jay Peak, Vermont
Best for Deepest Snow
Travel Time: ~3.5 hours drive from Boston
Uniquely situated on the Canadian border and 3.5 hours by car, Jay Peak is closer to Boston than many people realize. For comparison, Sugarbush is 3 hours, 5 minutes and Stowe is 3 hours, 15 minutes by car. Those who make the trip will be rewarded with the deepest snow (359" annual average) in all of New England. With a diversity of natural terrain, exceptional glade skiing and some steeps through the trees, even seasoned shredders will find a challenge amongst some of the best terrain in the region.
Jay has invested millions into transforming the mountain from a rustic locale for Canadians to become a full-on family resort destination. Investments have enabled major upgrades to the base area, several new hotels, dining options, and an incredible indoor waterpark.
Getting To: Jay Peak is 3 hours, 30 minutes from Boston and 1 hour, 25 minutes from Burlington, VT by car. Parking is free and abundant at both the Tramside and Stateside base areas.
Special Programs: Jay Peak is one of the best value resorts in Vermont. Season passes include discounts on retail, F&B, tuning, and lodging. Special deals are available for residents of the 802. Discounts available with lodging including a free day with a 3+ night stay
At 3.5 hours driving, this is one of the farthest destinations from Boston and there's not much around
High winds can impact lift operations
Some lifts are on the older side, which makes ride times a bit longer
Nightlife is limited and most places close early
Beginners are restricted to the lower mountain. stay warm on the tram, but there is no easy way down
Unrivaled New England terrain, from chutes and steeps to some of the best tree skiing in the region
Fantastic destination for the whole family with a brand new hotel and an indoor waterpark
An independent resort, lift lines here are minimal, mountain vibes are legendary and all of this comes at an affordable price
Satisfying on-mountain dining, from authentic ramen served out of an old tram car at Miso Hungry to the Notorious P.I.G. Poutine at Howie's
Top Trails. Beginner — Queens Highway; Intermediate — Ullr's Dream; Advanced — Timbuktu
For the kids. Dedicated beginner/intermediate zones off of the Taxi and Metro Quads. Don't miss the waterpark!
Dining. Howie's and Miso Hungry
Favorite Après Spot. The Bullwheel Bar
Terrain: 81 trails; 3 terrain parks. 100+ acres of glades
Terrain Mix: 20% Novice, 40% Intermediate, 40% Advanced
Average Snowfall: 359inches
Vertical Drop: 2,153 ft
Lifts: 9 total - 1 tram, 4 quads, 1 triple, 1 double, 2 surface
Best for Great Terrain in a Classic Vermont Town
Travel Time: ~3 hours drive Boston
Just over 3 hours driving from Boston, Sugarbush is one of our absolute favorite destinations for a weekend trip. Located just off Route 100 in the legendary Mad River Valley, Sugarbush combines classic Vermont charm with truly epic terrain. With a vertical drop of 2600' (#3 in New England), 111 trails spread across two mountains, three terrain parks, and 28 wooded areas (plus the expansive 2,000+ acre Slide Brook Basin area), Sugarbush packs a serious punch in the terrain department.
While skiers of all abilities can find something to enjoy here, experts will definitely be the most at home. From incredible tree skiing off of Heaven's Gate to the gnarly, technical descents on Castle Rock and all of the steeps, moguls, and cliffs in between, experts will continuously find new challenges. When the day is over, head to the Wünderbar for a beer and live music or the nearby town of Waitsfield for some of the best dining and après in Vermont.
Best for Best Terrain
Travel Time: ~4 hours drive from Boston
At just over 4 hours by car from Boston, Sugarloaf is a trek. However, those making the pilgrimage will be rewarded with some of the biggest skiing in the Northeast. Sugarloaf stuns with 2,820' of vertical (#2 in New England) and over 1,200 acres of skiable terrain, the most in New England. Home to the only lift-serviced above-treeline skiing in the region and the vast expanse of the Brackett Basin sidecountry area, Sugarloaf offers a totally unique experience in this part of the country.
Though an expert skier/rider's paradise, there is plenty of terrain dedicated to beginner and intermediate skiers. Plus, the fantastic ski school offers one-off and season-long lesson programs. Thanks to its remote location, the mountain is rarely crowded. The mountain village offers a great variety of food and après options. Lodging can be found at the Sugarloaf Mountian Hotel or in nearby condos and AirBnB's. Make sure to explore the nearby town of Kingfield too.
Our Top Ski Shops in the Greater Boston Area
Ski Monster | West End
Boston's premier ski and snowboard shop. The West End shop features a full range of skis, boards, boots and apparel from more than 125 leading brands including Flylow, Burton, The North Face, and Smith Optics. The staff is incredibly knowledgable and the selection, unparalleled. Ski Monster is open by appointment only.
Country Ski & Sport | 3 Locations on the South Shore
Sun & Ski | Pembroke & Woburn
A national brand, Sun & Ski Sports has two locations in the Greater Boston area – Pembroke and Woburn. Sun & Ski has a robust selection of ski and snowboard gear from leading brands, plus an extensive rental program.
Ski & Sport Shack | Stoneham
Family owned since 1971, this local shop specializes in quality gear at an affordable price. This is our favorite spot for kids and/or beginners. It won't break the bank and the knowledgable staff are eager to help new people get to the slopes. Plus Ski & Sport Shack offers a full range of rental equipment.
Ski Haus | Burlington
Family-owned since 1965, this shop prides itself on outstanding customer service. With a range of ski and snowboard equipment and fitting, tuning, and repair services, this is a great option for the Metro-West area.