When you love someplace – like I love Waterville Valley – you can’t help but get excited when you see anything Waterville Valley-related in the news. Here’s a story that appeared on NorthJersey.com on Jan. 10.
Skiing: Bring the family to Waterville Valley in New Hampshire
Waterville Valley was the first resort I skied at in New Hampshire, back in college, when I attended a race camp. It hasn’t changed much since then and that’s what I like about it.
Following family tradition, my son and I headed up this past weekend for the Preston Cup, a freestyle mogul and aerials competition.
Driving up to Waterville, the road climbs uphill along the Mad River Valley going on for miles, until finally the sign “Home of Freestyle Skiing” appears, with a small arrow signaling to turn left to the ski area, located at the end of the road.
It’s easy to get lost up at the mountain and although there are many activities, hotels and restaurants to keep any skier happy, it’s all tucked away, hidden among the 800,000 acres of the White Mountain National Forest.
When I skied there last Saturday morning, we awoke to a few inches of fresh, light powder. We had been warned about high winds, and, indeed, it was howling. At breakfast, in the mountaintop Schwendi Hutte, locals discussed the winds at the top of nearby Mount Washington, the East’s highest peak, which were blowing over 100 mph that morning.
That wind blew in fresh tracks on top of the three to four inches Mother Nature dropped, resulting in soft packed powder conditions all day long. When the wind died down and the High Country lift opened up, my son and I hit Tree Line, an intermediate run where we got first tracks in almost knee-high snow.
Waterville Valley has always been known as a skier’s mountain and the 52 trails are laid out to get the most sustained fall-line runs out of its 2,000-vertical-foot drop. Most of the trails were built for racers, designed in by Olympian Tom Corcoran, who joined Waterville as president in the mid-1960s with a mission of building World Cup courses. The mountain eventually ended up hosting more World Cup races than any other ski area in the U.S. and, soon, hopes to get back to its ski racing heritage.
“The entire ski industry would like to have major events back in the East again,” said Bobby Foster, Waterville’s marketing director. “We are putting our hat in the ring for future Alpine World Cup events.”
In the meantime, Waterville has churned out some top-level talent, including Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearny, the new skiing ambassador at the area and an alumna of the Waterville Valley Academy. And, it has quietly built a reputation for some of the best kids’ competition programs, from racing to freestyle, and has become a mecca for families.
Sleigh rides, dogsledding, ice skating and cross-country skiing out of Waterville’s Town Square are some of the many reasons families love Waterville. A resort shuttle picks up at all of the hotels and condominiums in the village, dropping people off at the mountain, athletic club, Curious George Cottage or the arcade center. The Town Center also has a variety of shops and restaurants.
A new ski week program that starts at $272 per night offers families another incentive with lodging, lift tickets, welcome reception, some meals and family activities including tubing and a torchlight parade.
Now under new ownership, Waterville has a master plan that will add a gondola from the Town Square to the mountain and a new lodge in the village. While that development may be a few years away, the owners hope to have Green Peak opening in the next couple of years. This 2,800-foot-peak will open 60 acres of new terrain, with eight trails as well as some gladed terrain, all serviced by a high-speed quad.
With its remote location and beautiful views of 4,000-foot tall peaks all around, a little development will only enhance Waterville’s splendor. So if you’re up for a road trip (six hours from Bergen County), head up: it has always been worth the drive for me.