Skiiers on Wachusett Mountain - only 90 minutes west of Boston
Photo courtesy of Wachusett Mountain
Winter in Boston means skiing - and snowboarding, and other fun outdoor sports.
Massachusetts ski areas near Boston and beyond provide plenty of downhill skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and cross country trails.
So choose your experience - your choices range from local slopes and trails to top-end luxury ski resorts.
Our Guide to Massachusetts skiing areas will help you find the best slopes, resorts, and ski vacation packages to get the most from this favorite winter sport.
Massachusetts ski areas can be divided into 3 categories:
For slopes beyond Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire, check out our complete Guide to New England ski areas, with photos plus drive times and distances from Boston.
Although expert skiers may prefer more challenging slopes, ski areas near Boston can't be beat for their convenience and fun laid-back ambiance.
If you are learning to ski or content with moderate terrain - or just short of time - you'll find a lot to love at these Massachusetts ski areas located within an hour's drive of the city, including a cross-country ski trails, snow boarding, tubing, and more.
Although Nashoba isn't as fancy or big as many of the New England ski resorts in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, it has grown during the past few years but still retains its comfortable, relaxed atmosphere while providing excellent skiing near Boston.
With 16 trails ranging from beginner to expert and 8 lifts, Nashoba offers snow tubing, racing, and snowboarding in addition to down-hill skiing. Equipment rentals and lessons (individual and group) are available. Open from mid-to-late November to mid-March, depending somewhat on the weather.
Favorite things about Nashoba:
Where to stay - and get a Stay and Ski (or Tube) package
Of course, you really don't have to stay anywhere if you're coming from Boston. But why not maximize your time on the slopes - especially since Stay and Ski (or Tube and Stay) packages are available from two hotels in nearby (2 miles away) Westford.
Packages include a couple of ski lift (or snow tube) tickets, plus regular hotel amenities - including indoor swimming pools. Rates for these ski and stay packages usually save you lots of money.
Prices vary so if you want to make sure you're getting a good deal, check for the lowest discount rates through Trip Advisor, and then call the hotel directly to check package rates with the tickets.
Nashoba Address: 79 Powers Road, Westford, MA - or just follow the many signs saying "Nashoba Valley Ski Area"
More information: 978-962-3033; Nashoba website
Located at the MDC Leo Martin Golf Course in Weston, the Westin Ski Track provides trails, equipment, and lessons for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing just 30 minutes west of Boston. 15 kilometer course on mostly level ground.
What's great about Weston Ski Track
Address: 198 Park Road, Westin, MA
More information about this Massachusetts ski area: 978-962-3033; Weston Ski Track website: http://www.skiboston.com
Located in the Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle just 25 miles west of downtown Boston, Great Brook Ski Touring Center offers cross-country skiing. Open between December 1 - March 20 (when the weather cooperates), the 10 miles of machine-groomed trails provide various levels of challenge, although most are almost flat and perfect for beginners.
What you'll love about skiing here:
Address: 1018 Lowell Street, Carlisle, MA
More information about this Massachusetts ski area: 978-369-7486; Great Brook website
The Blue Hills Ski Area is part of the Blue Hills Reservation, owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A number of companies have leased and managed the resort through the years, with mixed results. The present company seems to have made some good improvements.
This Massachusetts ski area covers about 60 acres, with about 80% snowmaking coverage. There's a vertical drop of 309 feet, 9 trails, and 4 lifts. About half the area is lighted at night.
What you'll like:
Address: 4001 Washington Street, Canton, MA
More information: 781-828-5070; Blue Hills website
Both of the next two New England ski resorts - one in Massachusetts, one in Southern New Hampshire - are only about 90 minutes from Boston.
You can easily drive there and back from Boston in a day - but they also make great weekend destinitions. Even better, you can get to both without a car, thanks to transportation arrangements made by the resorts.
"Resorts" may not be quite the correct word . . . although both of these Massachusetts ski areas offer nearby lodging, the focus is on comfortable rather than fancy - but they're perfect if your focus is on the slopes rather than spa treatments.
At slightly over 2,000 feet tall and with a vertical drop of 1,000 feet, Wachusett is the highest mountain in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River - even though "Wachusett" means "Great Hill" in Algonquin.
Wachusett has 110 ski-able acres and 25 trails, divided fairly evenly between Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert.
Snowboarding is big here also.
Wachusett is the only Massachusetts ski area near Boston with its own lodging, making it a true ski resort.
Wachusett is about 90 minutes west of Boston
What you'll like:
Address: 499 Mountain Road, Princeton, MA
More information: 978-464-2300; Wachusett Mountain website
Just 90 minutes north of Boston near the small Southern New Hampshire village of Henniker, Pats Peak boasts some of the longest and steepest pitches in Southern New Hampshire.
With 22 trails and slopes, 10 lifts, a summit elevation of 1,400 feet, a vertical drop of 710 feet, and 100% snowmaking all season, you'll find lots of good skiing here.
What you'll like:
Address: 686 Flanders Road, Henniker, NH
More information: 1-888-728-7732; Pats Peak website
If you're looking for luxury ski resorts in Massachusetts, the Berkshire mountains are where you'll find them - along with many affordable options as well.
Berkshires ski resorts attract more visitors from New York and western Massachusetts rather than Boston, which is 2 1/2 - 3 hours away. Bostonians tend to go north to New England ski resorts in New Hampshire and Maine, many of which are closer.
However, you'll find terrific ski slopes in the Berkshires along with a lot of beautiful scenery, great restaurants, quaint villages, and cultural offerings such as museums, galleries, and performing arts.
Here are 2 of the biggest and best known of these Western Massachusetts ski areas:
A true luxury ski resort and the largest in Southern New England, with excellent ski slopes and deluxe lodgings all in one spot.
Jiminy Peak is located in the village of Hancock, nestled in the northern Berkshires where you'll experience stunning views and the sense of being in another world. This corner of the Berkshires is known for its rich cultural offerings, and is popular throughout the year.
With an elevation of 2,380 feet, a vertical rise of 1,150 feet, 170 acres, 45 trails, and 9 lifts, Jiminy Peak is a skier's paradise. Add to this an average annual snowfall of 100 inches, almost 100% snowmaking coverage, and a run of almost 2 miles, and you can see why you might want to head west from Boston.
Jiminy Peak offers all the services and amenities that you'd expect in a luxury ski resort - all levels of lessons, a children's programs, several terrain parks for snowboarding, and lots of special touches such as occasional fireworks.
Here's a short video to give you a flavor of what you'll find at Jiminy Peak - the slopes, the lodge, the resort, the fun - there are even bonfires and a giant lighted Christmas tree near the end!
Jiminy Peak address: 37 Corey Road, Hancock, MA
More information: 413-738-5500
Where to stay:
Vacation Village Resorts at Berkshires, Hancock - High-end resort near Jiminy Peak, with indoor and outdoor swimming, tennis, a spa. Designed for year-round enjoyment, in addition to being a popular Massachusetts ski area.
Bentley Brook Resort in Hancock - Owned by the Wyndham Hotel Group, Bentley Brook Resort is located at the foot of Jiminy Peak Mountain ski slopes, only 200 feet from the chair lifts taking you up the mountain to ski. Deluxe accommodations range from studios to 2-bedroom suites.
At 110 skiable acres, Butternut is big . . . and with 22 downhill ski trails, 12 lifts, and a 5-lane tubing center, you'll find plenty to enjoy. Extensive snow-making equipment ensures that you'll have plenty of white stuff to ski on.
Butternut features a large professional ski school, designed to get everyone to at least an intermediate level quickly.
Located in picturesque Great Barrington, Butternut is close to several relatively economical places to stay and dine. When you're not on the slopes, you can explore local museums, shops, galleries, and theater.
At many of the reasonably-priced lodgings near Butternut, you'll also be given a discount voucher to apply toward your lift tickets.
Address: 380 State Road, Route 23, Great Barrington, MA
More information about this Western Massachusetts ski area: 413-528-2000; www.skibutternut.com
This 4-diamond Berkshires luxury resort is best known for golf, its extensive spa services, and the sweeping vistas offered by its spectacular estate setting.
By comparison, Cranwell's winter cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing falls into the "hidden secrets" category.
But if you're looking for a romantic weekend where you can combine gourmet dining with some exercise and serious pampering, this is where you'll want to make reservations. In addition to the skiing, you can also enjoy the luxurious glass-walled indoor swimming pool.
As for the skiing . . . you can take lessons, and rent equipment or bring your own. If you're staying at the hotel, admission to the rink is free.
For downhill skiing, head over to nearby Jiminy Peak or Butternut.
What you'll like here:
Location: Lenox, MA
Rates: Find the best deals and reviews for Cranwell Resort Spa and Golf Club
Sometimes it happens . . . a major sleet storm turns local highways into treacherous sheets of ice . . . your work schedule changes, leaving you without enough time to even get to Nashua . . . house guests arrive for the weekend and you discover they despise outdoor winter sports.
You can still indulge your skiing obsession - I mean, passion - with ski-related activities. Pop top-rated Breakthrough on Skis I: Expert Skiing Simplified into your DVD player for some off-slope instruction - Volumes II and III teach you even more advanced techniques to try later.
Or use your Wii to pretend you're skiing with We Ski
And for those house guests who aren't yet skiing fans? Slip Steep into your DVD player. While they're immersed in the fast-paced extreme skiing scenes, you can sneak out for some quality slope time in your favorite Massachusetts ski area. Maybe they'll even look at you with new respect when you return.
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