On the Trails & Summits - Dartmouth Skiway
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On the Trails & Summits - Dartmouth Skiway

March 6, 2024
It was a wonderful winter day riding the Holt’s Ledge double chairlift at the Dartmouth Skiway. The natural snow on the Lift Line Trail below and in the trees was pretty to see and fun to ski. The Dartmouth Skiway is home to the Dartmouth Ski Team and the Ford Sayre Ski Club. The mountain has two chairlifts and two carpet lifts on two mountains and has a vertical drop of 968 feet. Uphill access is permitted. Lift tickets are a good value for midweek adults just $35 and on weekends $65. The Dartmouth Skiway is a member of the Indy Pass.

by Amy Patenaude
Outdoor/Ski Writer

Saturday morning Charlie and I raced in the Silver Fox Trot cross-country ski race at the Oak Hill Outdoor Center in Hanover. Ford Sayre hosted 245 racers of all ages and speeds. When we were at the starting line we were congratulated for being the first to race on their new 3.3 kilometer trail that has a snowmaking system.

We climbed up the steep hills and zoomed back down and we did two laps. It was great fun and the course skied well. The sun came out and it wasn’t too cold. Our races were held first and as we were leaving lots of youngsters were arriving for their races.

Cross Ski Race at Oak Hill Outdoor Center
The start of the Silver Fox Trot men’s race at the Oak Hill Outdoor Center. The race is part of the New England Nordic Ski Association’s Popular Racing and Club Cup Series–races for all ages (nensa.net). The new ski trail has snowmaking and will host the Dartmouth Carnival XC Ski Races and next year’s NCAA Championships.
Smart's Mountain
A big view of Smart’s Mountain from the top of Worden’s Schuss at the Dartmouth Skiway in Lyme, NH., just twenty minutes north of the Dartmouth Campus.

The following weekend the best college racers will be racing in the Dartmouth Carnival ski races. The cross-country races will be at Oak Hill and the alpine races just down the road in Lyme at the Dartmouth Skiway. It is terrific that Dartmouth is able to have their races at home.

Driving back to Route 10 we stopped at the small Co-op market and I changed into my warm downhill clothing in the parking lot. Charlie ran into the market and bought us hot coffee and some snacks.

We chatted about our race experiences as we drove to the Dartmouth Skiway. My Indy Pass is good for two days at the Skiway. It was 11 am when Charlie dropped me off and said he’d be back for me at 1:45 pm.

A view from the lower slopes of Holts of the Winslow slopes and the McLane Family Lodge.
A view from the lower slopes of Holts of the Winslow slopes and the McLane Family Lodge.

Charlie then went off on his own adventure to cross-country ski more at the Green Woodlands trails that are located past the Skiway, up Dorchester Road.

It was really nice that Charlie dropped me off right in front of the lodge and that I was fully dressed to ski. I went to the ticket window and redeemed a day on my Indy Pass. I placed the RFID card in my sleeve pocket. But before going straight to the nearest lift I quickly needed to go inside the lodge.

The Dartmouth Skiway’s lodge sits in the narrow valley between two mountains, Holts Ledge and Winslow Ledge. The McLane Family Lodge is beautiful and wonderfully functional. The first thing you see when entering the lodge is the Dartmouth Skiing Wall of Fame. The bathrooms are to the right. On my way back outside. I stopped and pondered at the Wall reading the names and looking at the photographs of the great men and women that hailed from Dartmouth. On the wall are Olympians and National Champions dating back to the 1920’s.

The Winslow Trails behind the lodge are the home of the majority of the more gentle trails with snowmaking. The Winslow quad-chairlift and novice area carpet lifts serve the Winslow slopes. I rode the lift with parents and their children. There were many families enjoying the sunny day on the slopes together. Pass Fail and Herman’s Highway were nicely groomed and a couple of others were open with natural snow that were pretty bumpy.

To get to the Holts Trails I had to go back up to the lodge and walk across the road and up a short distance to the double chairlift. There was no lift line there. Most of the skiers on this side of the mountain were young kids doing race training. The Don Worden Schuss from top to bottom was super. It had tons of snow made on it and the bright red netting was set on both sides of the trail. This trail is ready for racing this season.

Lessons at Dartmouth Skiway
Six young ladies wearing all kinds of pink ski clothing out for their ski lesson with their ski instructor.

The view from the Holts’ slopes was super. Looking over the Winslow slopes to the bright white frosted Smarts Mountain is always a grand sight to see. The Appalachian Trail Passes over Smarts Mountain and crosses over Holts Ledge but not up the ski trails.

The steep drop on the top of Worden’s is fun and it is a wonder how fast ski racers get going right out of the start house. I skied this trail a few times in a row for the sheer joy of the speed.

I felt lucky the trails weren’t crowded, Worden’s wasn’t closed for ski training and there was just enough natural snow to have a good number of the trails and some glades open. Thin cover and watch for rocks/ice. I found a good challenge in the trees. It was perfect.

I rode the chair a couple of times with ski patrollers. The Dartmouth Volunteer Ski Patrol is made up of students and community members. The two I met were both students, one from Alaska and another from New Jersey. They do hundreds of hours of training and many more hours working on the mountain. They’re continuing an important Dartmouth tradition.

I walked across back to Winslow and decided I had enough time to do one more run before Charlie arrived. Now there was a lift line at Winslow, just a minute or two. Lots of children were taking group ski lessons. Someone told me in the lift line that the lessons begin at 1 pm.

By the time I got back to the base, Charlie was waiting for me. I was almost on time and he admitted he had just got there too.

The Oak Hill Outdoor Center and the Dartmouth Skiway are wonderful fun places to ski.

What a fun two-event day.

Have fun,

Amy Patenaude

Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.

Written By
Amy Patenaude