White Mountain Nordic Celebrates 40th Year with 400 KM of XC Skiing Trails
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White Mountain Nordic Celebrates 40th Year with 400 KM of XC Skiing Trails

February 15, 2024

The White Mountain Nordic Association marks its 40th anniversary this season, celebrating a rich history of cross country (XC) skiing in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire at six exceptional XC ski areas. There are 400 kilometers of combined trails at these XC ski areas and an array of winter activities, that collectively allow recreational enthusiasts to get outdoors and discover the natural beauty of this stunning region of the White Mountains.

Jackson XC covered bridge
Jackson XC covered bridge along the trails

The association’s XC ski areas include: Bear Notch Ski Touring, Bretton Woods Nordic Ski Center, Great Glen Trails, Jackson XC, Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring and Snowshoe Center, and Purity Spring Resort XC and Snowshoe Preserve. Each center offers its unique charm and character, making them a must-visit for both seasoned skiers and those new to the sport.

The White Mountain Nordic Association areas have 280 km of classic tracked XC skiing and 270 km of trails groomed for skate skiing. Explore gentle terrain for easy outings, more challenging trails with ups and downs, or even ungroomed backcountry trails. You’ll find learn to ski packages, ski and snowshoe equipment to rent for a couple of hours, for the day or the weekend, and XC ski lessons for all abilities.

The six XC ski areas are all conveniently located within 30 minutes of one of the US’s top ski towns, North Conway, NH. Located in and around the 788,000-acre White Mountain National Forest, these trails wind through classic New England villages, providing breathtaking panoramic views along the way.

Unlike backyard skiing on local trails, White Mountain Nordic areas offer more reliable snow, trails that are purpose-built for skiing, and grooming at world-class standards to make the XC skiing experience the best it can be. 

Glen House
XC Skiing behind the Glen House at Great Glen Trails

Visitors to these trails can explore them on XC skis or snowshoes and there are also opportunities for travelers to experience the region's charming inns and eateries, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a refreshing beverage après ski.

“So much has changed over the last 40 years since our organization was formed. Grooming has become more sophisticated, some centers have added snowmaking, and equipment and gear continue to improve. But what hasn’t changed is the tremendous culture of skiing that exists here in NH’s White Mountains. It’s not just the 400 km of skiing, it’s also the ability to ski from inn to inn, stopping at restaurants and taverns, and taking part in citizens' races and fun events. There’s truly nothing like it anywhere else in the U.S.,” stated Jackson XC Executive Director Ellen Chandler.

Best of all, XC skiing remains a sport with a reasonable price tag - trail passes range from $20-$26 a day with discounted prices for children and seniors. The sport remains accessible and affordable to families. Some areas offer free tickets for kids up to a certain age. Trailside accommodations midweek in January 2024 can be had for as little as $99/night.

Unlike planning a winter ski trip to a single resort destination, the multiple locations offered by White Mountain Nordic mean ideal snow conditions are almost guaranteed. Visitors can stay at a single inn or hotel for an entire trip, and make decisions on where to ski based on conditions and weather, which often vary from day to day, and area to area. And unlike some Western resorts, there’s no downtime waiting to acclimate to higher elevations. In fact, White Mountain Nordic areas are an easy drive from major East Coast metropolitan areas such as Boston and New York City.

North Conway is regularly recognized as one of the #1 Best Ski Towns in North America in USA Today's 10Best Reader's Choice Awards further affirming the appeal of this destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Both Great Glen Trails and Jackson XC consistently rank in the Top 10 for Best Cross Country Ski Resort in the country, reflecting the high quality and popularity of the trails offered by these six areas.

Bear Notch Ski Touring on Route 302 has 65 km of trails in a White Mountain snow pocket with waterfalls, riverside, and mountain views. Guided tours are available for skiers. Dogs are welcome on the trails. Kids aged 16 and under can ski for free when with their parents. Purity Spring Resort has been known as a family destination for decades and they are now grooming their 45 km of trails with part of the network in the Audubon Sanctuary. Last winter there were snowshoe hikes with a naturalist and check with the Purity Spring website for dates this coming winter. Mt Washington Valley Ski Touring (MWV) is right in North Conway and is famously known for its 34th annual Chocolate Festival in late February, which is an inn-to-inn affair at about 12 stops to experience chocolate fantasies including moose and fondue. A shuttle is also available for those that have overindulged at the event dubbed the "Sweetest Day on the Trails." There are special Stay and Ski packages available with MWV.

Bretton Woods Nordic
Bretton Woods Nordic Center with Mt. Washington backdrop

Bretton Woods Nordic Ski Center has 100 km of trails on the grounds of the Omni Mount Washington Resort. The grand hotel at the southern base of the mighty Mt. Washington with 1,700 acres of spectacular scenery is home to a Nordic center housing ski school, rental equipment, and a retail shop. The Mountain Road trail, which is accessible from the top of a lift at the Bretton Woods alpine area (5 minutes from the Nordic Center) is a 7 km run, which may be the most fun to be had on xc skis in New England.

Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center has 45 km of XC skiing and snowshoeing trails at the base of Mt. Washington, which translates into jaw-dropping scenery all around you. Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center's lodge is open with rental equipment, lessons, snowtubing, , and a large xc skiing retail space. One loop and the learning area have snowmaking. Great Glen visitors can take a snowcoach partly up the Mt. Washington Auto Road (to 4,000 foot elevation).

Jackson XC has more than 100 km of trails suitable for all ability levels. Country inns are spaced throughout the region. The base lodge is located in the heart of Jackson Village, a quintessential New England town with a steepled church, a river running through, and a skiers’ pub. A new snowmaking operation will guarantee snow to connect some of the easy trails to the base lodge.

Now is the time to start planning a winter vacation to discover the winter wonderland of the White Mountains. Here are directions to the White Mountain XC ski areas.

For more information about the White Mountain Nordic Association and its six Nordic ski centers, please visit their website. Banner photo from JacksonXC. See related articles at Trip Report to Jackson XC and Mt. Washington Valley Visit.

Written By
Roger Lohr