Destination Sunapee: Frosty Fun

  • You can ski down Mount Sunapee or Ragged Mountain. Courtesy of Lake Sunapee Chamber

  • Sunapee Historical Society Sunapee Historical Society

  • Skiers make their way down one of the eight groomed trails open at Ragged Mountain in Danbury on Monday as the sun streaks through the trees. Ragged has two lift open with about 15 percent of the trails open. December 2017 Geoff Forester—Monitor file

  • Cross-country skiers explore New Hampshire’s many trails. Jovelle Tamayo / Valley News file

  • Children skate on the outdoor ice skating park along the Main Street of Newport, after they get out of school. Valley News file

Monitor staff
Published: 6/22/2018 3:32:28 PM

Vacationing in the Sunapee area ballooned in the late 1800s to mid-1900s largely due to railway access and lakeside summer activities.

In fact, even when a lobbying effort succeeding in getting state money to build a tramway to the summit of Mount Sunapee
in 1941, it was not for winter skiing, but to carry summer visitors arriving on steamboats at Newbury Harbor, according to Richard Parker, a former Sunapee State Park manager who was interviewed for “Mt. Sunapee State Park: A Comprehensive History” in 1981. (That tram was never built after World War II broke out.)

Alpine skiing

These days, Sunapee offers many recreational pursuits in the winter, as well as summer.

That tramway funding was extended through the war and after a few technical details were worked out, in 1946, it was agreed on to build a single chairlift from the present-day Mount Sunapee Resort area to the north peak of the mountain for year-round use. Three ski trails were also constructed at that time. In 1948, Mount Sunapee Resort opened with the 3,300 foot North Peak single chair, three trails, two tow ropes and the North Peak Lodge.

Today, Mount Sunapee Resort, which is owned by the state and managed by a private entity, has six chairlifts, plus a rope tow and carpet lifts in the beginner area. There are 66 trails covering 233 skiable acres – 17 easy trails, 32 moderate trails, 17 difficult trails. There are four terrain parks of varying difficulties. While the North Peak Lodge no longer stands, you can warm up in the Sunapee Lodge, the Spruce Lodge or the Summit Lodge. Sunapee also offers food for sale, equipment rentals and skiing or riding lessons

Lift rates vary based on day and age from $56 for an age 6 to 12 or 70 and older mid-week pass to $93 for an adult weekend pass. Full access season passes are $999 for adults, $579 for ages 6 to 12 and $389 for 70 and older.

Mount Sunapee Resort, 1398 Route 103, Newbury.

Over in nearby Danbury, you can continue your downhill skiing adventures on the slopes of Ragged Mountain Resort. This ski area has 57 trails – 30 percent easy, 30 percent moderate, 40 percent difficult – with three terrain parks accessed by three chairlifts and three surface lifts. Prices range from $35 for a senior, mid-week, half-day pass to $79 for an adult, weekend, full-day pass. Seniors age 80 and older are free, as are children under age five with a paying adult. New Hampshire residents can ski for half-price on Sundays except during holiday periods. Season passes were recently on sale for $289, but regularly sell for $499. Not interested in skiing? Ragged Mountain also offers lift-assisted tubing down four lanes of a 700-foot track. Cost is $19 for a two-hour block. Ragged Mountain Resort, Ragged Mountain Road, Danbury.

Nordic skiing and Snowshoeing

At the picturesque Dexter’s Inn in Sunapee, cross-country ski trails, groomed in the classic style, wind their way through forests and fields. Of the 30 kilometers of trail, there are a variety of trail difficulties – about 30 percent easy, 55 percent moderate and 15 percent advanced. About 5 kilometers of trail are left ungroomed for a backcountry experience. Daily trail use fee is $15 for anyone age six and older or $8 per day for inn guests. Rentals and lessons are also available. Dexter’s Inn, 258 Stagecoach Road, Sunapee.

Spanning New London, Sutton and Wilmot, the Pine Hill XC Ski Club has been maintaining ski trails on local landowner properties. There are 15 miles of trail for skiers and snowshoers plus three dog-friendly trails. The majority of the trails are moderate with the rest primarily easy. In Wilmot, Robb’s Hut is open Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. Rentals are available near the trailhead at Village Sports, 394 Main St., New London. Nonmembers may purchase a day pass for $15 for adults or $5 for ages 11 to 17. Membership, or basically a season pass, is $130. Children age 10 and younger are free with a family member. Pine Hill Ski Club, 220 Mountain Road, New London.

Trails in state parks and forests, including the Gile State Forest in Springfield, are available for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, including those groomed for snowmobiles, unless specified otherwise. At Gile State Forest, you’ll find lots of wooded roads that meander the property, along with a few graveled roads. Some of the trails are maintained and groomed by a local snowmobile club. N.H. State Parks and Forests.

At the Eastman Community Association’s recreation complex, which offers hiking, swimming and golf during the warmer months, there are nearly 20 miles of ski and snowshoe trails in the winter. There is a mix of easy, moderate and difficult trails. Day passes are $12 for nonmember adults, $9 for member adults, $8 for nonmember juniors and $6 for member juniors. There are also afternoon and season passes available. Ski, skate and snowshoe rentals are also available with cost based on time used. Eastman Community Association, 25 Round the Lake Road, Grantham.

Ski along farm trails that the town of New London helps maintain with the Spring Ledge Farm and the Messer, Kidder and Cleveland families. More than two miles of trails head out past Spring Ledge Farm toward Messer Farm, ending at Morgan Hill Road or toward Pleasant Street. There are also a few snowshoe-only trails, in particular, a loop behind the school. The trailhead begins behind the old Kearsarge Middle School. 114 Cougar Court, New London.

Ice Skating

Several towns in the region offer skating rinks in park areas.

In Sunapee, there is a rink on the field between Lake Sunapee Bank and the fire station. There are free skates to use in the warming hut.

It’s open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with hockey after 5 p.m. In Newport, the rink is on the town common near the information booth. There are free skate rentals here, too. The warming hut is open Monday through Thursday, 2 to 5 p.m., Friday, 2 to 7 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In New London, skate on the Bob Andrews Memorial Ice Rink daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

If you plan to skate on a water body, please check to make sure the ice is safe first.


The Lake Sunapee Snowmobile Club maintains and grooms more than 80 miles of trails through Bradford, Grantham, Newbury, Newport, Springfield, Sunapee, Sutton and Washington. These trails go through landowner properties and sometimes trail permissions change, be sure to check the updated map (available for $15 from the club) and be respectful.

Kearsarge Trail Snails is a nonprofit based out of Warner that promotes welfare and safety of snowmobilers and landowners.

From Dodge Hill, through Wadleigh State Park and toward Gage Hill, the Sutton Ridge Runners maintain snowmobile trails. There are about 30 miles of trails in the system on a combination of public and private lands. The system is groomed with a fleet of three volunteer groomers.

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