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Combine great snow, terrific grooming, scenic trails and friendly mountain people and you have the makings for a darn fine weekend of skiing and good times. Such was the case when I visited Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury, NH in early February, part of this skier’s never-ending quest to see and ski as much of New England as possible.
Family operated since 1998 by Tim and Diane Mueller, Mount Sunapee rises high over the picture postcard country of west central New Hampshire. The mountain boasts a pleasing mix of 66 trails and glades on 233 acres accessed by 11 lifts. With a summit elevation of 2,743 feet and 1,500 feet of vertical, Sunapee easily skis like a much bigger mountain.
Just about every trail offers sweet views over Lake Sunapee and north to the White Mountains. To the west in Vermont, views along the crest of the Green Mountains range from Okemo Mountain to Mount Snow, including Killington, Stratton and Bromley. Mount Sunapee itself lies within the beautiful confines of Mt. Sunapee State Park, which includes not only the mountain but the 4,085-acre Lake Sunapee.
The blue trails of the aptly-named Sunbowl keep the sun most of the day, and here, Wing Ding, Skyway and Cataract were big favorites of ours. The blacks and blues off the main peak and the Sunapee Express offered long, sweeping trails, and we enjoyed memorable runs on Upper and Lower Ridge, Blast-Off and Bonanza and Chipmunk.
Great skiing is the really big reason Mainers should make the 2 hour and 45 minute, 143-mile trip over to Mount Sunapee. Travel there is pretty straightforward going via the Maine Turnpike/I-95, NH 101, I-93 and I-89. It’s a bit too much for a day trip, so make a weekend out of it and really enjoy. A nice variety of excellent lodging options and dining choices will surely make the trip oh so worthwhile.
We cozied up at the historic Follansbee Inn a few miles east of the mountain, nicely situated on scenic Kezar Lake in North Sutton. Well-appointed, comfortable rooms aside, owner Denis Swords puts on a heckuva breakfast, albeit with a wonderful New Orleans flare. One morning it was eggs Florentine, praline bacon and a monster cinnamon bun, while the next morning it was lemon ricotta pancakes, glazed ham with red eye gravy and baked cheese grits. Oh so very good!
The historic New London Inn was a wonderful spot for drinks and apps, while the nearby Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille served up some mighty good dinner food and grog. It was hard to go wrong with the Battles Farm meatloaf, but the Potter Place pork looked delish too. A couple pints of Flying Goose Pale Ale, brewed right onsite, and, well, the evening was quite complete.
For some backup as to why a trip to Mount Sunapee should be high on your skiing radar screen, I asked one of the mountain’s big dogs to give me his Top 5 Reasons to Visit Mount Sunapee. Here’s what Bruce McCloy, Director of Marketing & Sales told me…
1. Snow conditions and grooming
“For the past 14 seasons, a SKI Magazine reader survey has given Mount Sunapee an average ranking of #3 in the East for both snow quality and grooming. We get a good amount of natural snow and we make good snow. Then we groom it for a consistent surface.”
2. It’s a big mountain…
“But we’re accessible to all types of skiers. We often get lumped in with the smaller New Hampshire ski mountains. But then people come here and they go ‘wow, this place is a lot bigger than we thought.’ We’ve got 1,500 feet of vertical and our longest run – Upper and Lower Ridge – is 2 miles long.”
3. Great ski and stay packages
“Because we’re located in a state park there is no lodging on the mountain. But we’ve got some really attractive ski and stay packages with a variety of local lodging operators, from hotels and motels to inns and bed and breakfasts. We’ll be open for skiing through mid-April so there’s plenty of time to visit.”
4. Family atmosphere, novices welcome
“This is a family-run business and that make a difference. Some 50% of our clientele have kids in the household. The South Peak Learning Area is a separate area on the mountain dedicated to family and novice skiers with learn-to-ski programs, while the rest of the mountain offers plenty of great terrain for the adults.”
“The Adventure Park boasts a 2 1/2-hour canopy zip line tour with 8 zips, 3 rappels and several rope bridges. The Aerial Challenge Course has 4 loops, and as the loops get higher and higher the features get more challenging. We also feature Segway tours, an 18-hole disc golf course, 18 holes of mini golf, and the South Peak chair runs days throughout the summer. Plus there’s hiking on Mt. Sunapee and swimming at the state park beach.”
All good stuff Bruce, thanks for giving us Mainers the skinny.
So, Mount Sunapee: Lots of very good skiing, staying and eating, and all closer than you think. By the way, Mount Sunapee and nearby Okemo Mountain in Vermont are part of the same ownership. You can buy a 3-day pass that gets you 2 days of skiing at Sunapee plus one at Okemo. Nice long weekend deal, eh?
MORE INFO: Mount Sunapee Resort, 603-763-3500.