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Backcountry skiers given okay to cut trails in White Mountain National Forest

  • Andrew Drummond, Granite Backcountry Alliance member, skis in the White Mountain National Forest. Courtesy of Granite Backcountry Alliance

  • Tyler Ray, president of the Granite Backcountry Alliance, skins up the mountain to ski Dodge’s Drop on the shoulder of Mount Washington in April 2016. Courtesy of Granite Backcountry Alliance

  • Tyler Ray, president of the Granite Backcountry Alliance, skis Dodge's Drop on the shoulder of Mount Washington in April 2016. Granite Backcountry Alliance

  • Tyler Ray of Granite Backcountry Alliance skis through a glade in the White Mountain National Forest. Courtesy

  • Tyler Ray of Granite Backcountry Alliance skis through a glade in the White Mountain National Forest. Courtesy—



Monitor staff
Thursday, April 05, 2018

The federal government has given the final stamp of approval to backcountry skiing on two areas in the White Mountains, completing the transition of what was once a rogue activity into a recognized part of New Hampshire winter recreation.

As reported by Powder Magazine, this week the White Mountain National Forest released a memo giving final approval for a group called the Granite Backcountry Alliance to develop and maintain ski trails on a 410-acre zone of Bartlett Mountain and a 600-acre area of Baldface Mountain.

The trails are open to anybody who wants to hike up and ski or snowboard down. Heavy snowfalls of late winter and continuing cold weather means conditions are excellent right now for backcountry skiing there.

The decision is not a surprise, as the nonprofit alliance and officials in the national forest have been working for a couple of years to open up old ski trials that had been cut in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Last summer, the Backcountry Alliance worked with the Randolph Community Forest in the town of Randolph – on the north slope of the White Mountains – bringing together some 75 volunteers who opened up 3,000 vertical feet of skiable terrain on five ski lines, flowing into an open hardwood glade.

But the U.S. Forest Service decision is still a big step, which Powder called “historic.”

Skiing is allowed in the White Mountain National Forest, but cutting trees or removing vegetation to clear trails is not allowed without permission. For many years, some backcountry skiers have secretly cut trails on public lands, with the activity occasionally spilling into public attention when people were caught and prosecuted. This has given backcountry skiing an outlaw image that is frowned on by many.

In recent years, the popularity of backcountry skiing has grown, as demonstrated by ski resorts opening more glades, or tree-filled areas, to their chairlift-riding customers.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)