Boston: Home Of The Bean, Cod, And Nearby Skiing, Riding -

“Good old Boston, home of the bean and the cod …” so the toast starts.

It’s a world of its own compared with areas farther west and north, and northeast into Maine. Boston’s climate reflects the temperate effect of the Atlantic rather than the cold and snowy weather driving out of the Great Plains and central Canada that holds sway across the inland portions of New England.

Green yards in Boston often discourage city residents yearning to ski free, but seasoned skiers and riders know that the absence of winter in the back yard does reflect the state of affairs elsewhere across a region held in winter’s grip.

Blue Hills Ski Area is closest to the city, in Canton, at Blue Hills Reservation. It’s small but inexpensive. Nashoba Valley in Westford, Ski Ward in Shrewsbury, and Ski Bradford in Haverhill also are close and relatively inexpensive, though also small in size.

Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton, Mass., is the closest serious mountain – 1,000 feet of vertical, three separate trail systems and a novice slope, two high-speed detachable quads and a fixed-grip double, as well as three carpets and a surface tow, 100 percent snowmaking and grooming, modern lodge and rentals, and a full ski/snowboard school.

Further north is cult favorite Crotched Mountain in Bennington, N.H., with full snowmaking coverage from pole-mounted fan guns, and the ever popular Mount Sunapee in Newbury, N.H., overlooking Lake Sunapee, noted for deals that roll through the week, and for excellent snowmaking and grooming. Sunapee has a 1,510-foot vertical, and 65 trails. Both areas are within an hour and a half of Boston, given luck with traffic and weather.

Push the distance out a little more and options multiply: Gunstock in Gilford, N.H., overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, Waterville Valley, and Loon Mountain are all within 2.5 hours drive of downtown. Gunstock has a 1,400-foot vertical and 51 trails.

Waterville and Loon are serious mountains. Loon has 2,100 feet of vertical and 55 trails, and is noted for its dedication to terrain parks which are spotted around the mountain. Waterville has 2,020 feet of vertical and 52 trails.

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