Natural trails/glades; uncrowded; nice lodge; convenience.
Slow to open terrain; limited variety if natural snowfall is low.
Ragged Mountain is a gem. The place has a laid-back, local yokel vibe with a friendly staff and surprisingly good terrain for its size.
Snowmaking operations are not aggressive here (compared to larger resorts with bigger budgets and more staff) so normally 1 or 2 trails open at a time to get the season going. The cruisers are fun but if the groomed stuff is all that's available, you'll be done early. The ski patrol folks are cool but can take a while to check things out and drop the ropes - which can happen at any time of the day. And even when there's good snow on Cabin Fever and Big Rock, they may not be open because the trail you take from those runs to the base won't be ready.
Once there is enough of a natural base, however, Ragged finally delivers. The steepest sections are often short but on a powder day I have found Raggae Glades, Birches, Sweepstakes and the gladed areas in the Ravine long enough and pitched just right to be plenty satisfying - especially for being so accessible. That's the best part: This is really the closest truly interesting, classic New England-style skiing to Manchester and Boston. And while it's just on the opposite side of I-89 from Sunapee, Ragged Mountain is a world apart in the way it feels and the company it keeps.
It's funny how other reviewers have commented on the outdated signage and trails or lifts that don't exist. Ragged's relatively new ownership has pumped some money into the mountain and given it a face lift, but there are some simple fixes that haven't (yet) happened. In some ways, time has stood still here since the resort's former life. The old Raggamuffins midway lodge sits dormant, and some signs mark runs that are always roped off, overgrown and supposedly forgotten about (Doug's Drop, Raggedy Ann, Devil's Den) - even if they're still on the map (Mikey's Run.) Not that you could get lost: there's only one base.
Another nice thing about Ragged - any advanced skier will still enjoy the greens here, which have a few fun intermediate-inclined drops (Cardigan) and good views. Don't pass up the Barnyard run with its ski-through barn.
As for lifts: The six pack chair is great. The Spear triple is slow, but relax - the ride is worth it for Flying Yankee (wonderful cruiser but widened last season for racing), the double diamond-rated entrances to the Ravine (when they're open - unfortunately rarely) and the short but sweet (albeit poorly marked) glades off of Cardigan.
The daily ticket prices are on par with larger resorts in the state but the mountain offers weekday deals, and the season pass is a great value. The lodge is comfortable and always seems spacious enough even when it's busy. Speaking of which, that's not too often: avoid the Saturday of MLK weekend. Other than that, you'll find racers here on the typical weekend day but they stick to one trail and the rest of the mountain, you'll probably have to yourself.
The two stars for "Nightlife" refer to the pleasant apres-ski offerings in the second floor of the main lodge. Otherwise, there isn't much around for lodging, bars or restaurants. This is a simple skiers' mountain and I like it that way.
Ragged is completely unpretentious and still under the radar. The owners have big plans for it but these changes are happening slowly and I hope that the mountain can retain its character - becoming profitable for them without becoming another Loon. It's a special place and is one of those mountains that, when in full operation and blessed with good snow, offers a lot to be explored and enjoyed.