The East Coast’s big-name ski resorts have a ton to offer skiers and riders. Killington has the acreage, Sugarloaf has the skiing above treeline, and Stowe has the storied history and iconic après-ski village vibe. However, don’t sleep on New England’s lesser-known ski areas. Many of New England’s under-the-radar ski areas offer the most bang for your buck, no lift lines, and that old-school New England vibe that people travel from around the world to find. Keep reading to learn about some of New England’s lesser-known, least-crowded ski areas.
The Best Lesser-Known Ski Areas in New England
Mad River Glen, Vermont
Mad River Glen is well-known to East Coasters, but may be lesser known to new skiers and those not as familiar with New England skiing. You won’t find Mad River Glen on any of the major ski passes, nor will you find snowboarders, since it’s a ski-only mountain. Mad River Glen, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is run by a skier-owned cooperative that helps keep its ski culture authentic. Its terrain is known for being technically challenging, while its infrastructure has an old school skiing vibe, as evidenced by one of the few single chairlifts left in the country. Plus, it boasts more than 2,000 (2,037′) feet of vertical drop. Skip the busier Vermont ski areas and head to Mad River Glen when your New England ski trip finds you in the Mad River Valley.
Magic Mountain, Vermont
Vermont is home to many small, charming local ski areas, and not the least of which is Magic Mountain. Magic Mountain packs a punch, as evidenced by OnTheSnow users rating it as num. 2 for expert terrain in Vermont. It boasts tight turns and off-piste terrain that you won’t just find at any New England ski area. In addition to its challenging trails, Magic Mountain also boasts a strong sense of community. Those who ski Magic are die-hard fans of the resort’s authentic, laid-back vibe. The resort is also home to a “No Wind Holds” Red Chair that is true to its name. Off this lift, guests can access tons of glades and some unmarked skiing. Another Magic benefit is that the ski area limits its daily capacity so that crowds are virtually nonexistent.
Jiminy Peak, Massachusetts
Don’t overlook skiing in Massachusetts, where you’ll find Jiminy Peak, OnTheSnow’s 2022-23 Visitors’ Choice award winner for Best Ski Area for Beginners. Jiminy Peak, which you won’t find on the major passes, is a self-contained ski resort offering 45 trails and 9 lifts. Located three hours from New York City and Boston, Jiminy Peak attracts skiers from the East Coast’s large cities who are looking for less crowds and a community atmosphere. It has one of best après-ski scenes in Massachusetts, and a wide-range of beginner and intermediate terrain, making it a great option for families. Jiminy Peak is also the only resort in North America that generates all its energy through wind power.
Mt. Abram Ski Resort, Maine
Skip the crowds of some of Maine’s other ski resorts for Mt. Abram. Self-described as a “laid back, welcoming family-friendly ski community,” Mt. Abram has been spinning lifts since 1960 in Greenwood, Maine. Just a short drive from Sunday River, Mt. Abram has 42 trails and 450 skiable acres with a nice range of terrain for all abilities. The ski area is split into Mainside and Westside, with the Westside featuring Mt. Abram’s beginner area with a double chair and a magic carpet. The trails are all named after the famous Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show.
Whaleback Mountain, New Hampshire
Whaleback, located just off Route 89 near the Vermont/New Hampshire border, is a community mountain that offers family-friendly and affordable skiing with a range of terrain. The mountain operates as a non-profit, created in 2013 by community members who believed that everyone who wants to ski should have access to local skiing. Programs include after-school groups, lessons, area ski clubs, and an adult race night league. Whaleback Mountain has 31 trails and 85 skiable acres, and strongly stands by its motto of “Ski it to believe it!”
King Pine Ski Area, New Hampshire
Located just outside of Conway, which is a gateway to many nearby ski areas, King Pine Ski Area is a smaller New Hampshire family-friendly ski area. It’s best suited for beginners and intermediates, since about half of its 17 trails are beginner and intermediate runs. King Pine also has a fun cross-country skiing and snowshoe area with 20 kilometers of trails, plus a tubing park and ice skating rink. The eastern side of the ski area features the Twisted Pine Terrain Park. King Pine Ski Area is part of Indy Pass, while it frequently offers lift ticket specials.
Saskadena Six, Vermont
Saskadena Six, one of the oldest ski areas in America (dating back to 1934, featuring America’s first rope tow), represents the epitome of a small mountain community. With 24 trails and 3 lifts, Saskadena Six is easy and low-key for families and beginners. Just a 30-minute drive from Killington, this is a great ski area to avoid the weekend crowds. Saskadena Six is independently owned and operated by the Woodstock Inn and Resort, considered one of the top inns and resorts in New England. Don’t miss its ski and stay packages.
Ragged Mountain, New Hampshire
Ragged Mountain, rated the num. 3 small ski area in New Hampshire by OnTheSnow users, offers more than 200 acres of skiable trails serviced by 5 lifts, including New Hampshire’s only high-speed 6-pack lift. Ragged Mountain’s 57 trails are nicely split between green, blue, and black (one double black) diamond runs, while there are three terrain parks. Started by a group of friends in the 1960s who were looking for a place to ski closer to home, Ragged Mountain is a quintessential New England ski area with old-school community vibes. This resort draws a core crowd of locals who appreciate no-frills skiing.
Camden Snow Bowl, Maine
Camden Snow Bowl, featuring 1,000 feet of vertical, is one of the few New England ski areas where you can ski with a view of the ocean from the summit. It sits on the edge of a picturesque harbor that combines the classic northeast seacoast with traditional New England ski vibes. Camden Snow Bowl is located just 90 minutes north of Portland, Maine, so while it does attract residents from there, it doesn’t have the crowds of some of the ski areas that are closer to Boston and New York. It also offers night skiing, and is home to the U.S. National Toboggan Championship. We’ll close by mentioning New Hampshire’s Black Mountain, another classic New England ski area that dates back to the 1930s. Black Mountain had announced prior to the season that it was closing, however Indy Pass came to the rescue to help them remain open. Head to our New England snow report page to find more New England ski resorts. Header image: ©Mt. Abram