|Massachusetts has more than a dozen ski areas, with Wachusett Mountain and Jiminy Peak being biggest and best.|
Massachusetts ski areas are in beautiful country close to big cities and charming towns.
Here's my Southern New England Ski Map.
The vertical drop—usually between 1000 and 1200 feet (305 to 366 meters)—does not rival that of the big mountains in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, but Massachusetts ski areas are fun, close to the cities, and moderate to inexpensive in price.
Here they are in alphabetical order:
Just south of MA Route 2 in Charlemont, a two-hour drive west of Boston, it's a straightforward medium-sized ski area thats fun, rural, and usually uncrowded."Ski the Beast!" is the motto (that's B...East, actually): the Berkshire East Ski Resort, 100 miles (161 km) west of Boston (map).
Beastly? I dunno. It seems like a pleasant country ski area to me, and it's proud that it produces on-site 100% of its energy needs.
Unlike the mega-ski resorts, Berkshire East is refreshingly rural, without the huge condo and hotel developments.
After all, isn't skiing about getting away from the cities and back to nature?
The mountain's 1180-foot (360-meter) vertical drop has 45 ski trails (36% Beginner, 38% Intermediate, 26% Expert) served by five lifts: one quad, one triple chair, two double chair, and one handle tow.
Snowboarding action is significant here, and there's the Beastly Tubing Park for snowtubers.
Lessons are available for both skiers and snowboarders.
Snowmaking covers 100% of the slopes and trails.
Lodging is in B&Bs and motels in nearby towns.
A small local ski area south of the Massachusetts Turnpike in central Massachusetts. The Springfield (MA) Ski Club has its own mountain at Blandford MA (map) and, as their website says, "It's a family affair."
No throngs of cars disgorging armies of hot-dog skiers here. No dipping into your pocket at every occasion to inflate the bottom line. It's all about comfortable, fun family skiing at Blandford.
The vertical drop of 465 feet (142 meters) has 22 trails served by four lifts: three double chairs and one surface lift.
The ski trails are 40% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, and 20% Expert. Snowmaking covers 80% of the trails.
The closest to Boston, and fun because of that.Blue Hills Ski Area is convenient!
Going skiing is often an expedition: several hours' driving into the mountains, getting settled in a hotel, then a few days of great (but expensive) skiing and snowboarding.
It's fun, but it takes planning, and...money.
What if you just want to get out of the city, have fun skiing or snowboarding, and return home in a few hours? A ski break, not a ski expedition?
If you live in or near Boston, Blue Hills Ski Area in Milton and Canton MA (map) is your goal.
This small (60-acre/24 hectare) but lively, fun ski area, in existence since the 1960s, has a vertical drop of 309 feet (94 meters), nine trails served by four ski lifts: a double chair lifts and several carpet and handle lifts. Snowmaking capacity is 80% of the terrain, and 50% of the trails are lit for night skiing.
Follow I-93 or I-95 south to Milton MA, turn north on MA Route 138 (Blue Hills Avenue) to the Blue Hills Reservation, and follow signs to the ski area.
A small Berkshire Hills ski area near Pittsfield MA.Bousquet Ski Area (boss-KAY) has a new lease on life since gaining new owners in 2020 and being renamed Bosquet Mountain. The region's oldest ski area now offers year-round fun in Pittsfield: hiking, dining and a summer concert series, as well as the fun of winter skiing and snowboarding.
Local skiers asked farmer Clarence Bousquet if they could use it. He said yes, and thus was born the first ski area in the region.
In 1936, Pittsfield's General Electric company helped Bousquet to become the first ski area in the USA with lighting for night skiing.
In the 1950s, Bousquet was one of the first to make its own snow. (It can now cover 98% of its trails with its own snow.)
The 200-acre ski area has 21 ski trails (34% Beginner, 33% Intermediate, 33% Expert) served by five lifts: two double chairs and three surface lifts (including two Magic Carpets).
There's a terrain park and a snowtubing run. Lodging is in nearby Pittsfield and other towns.
Thirteen trails, eight lifts (including three triple-chairs), less than an hour's drive north of Boston....Bradford Ski Area, northwest of Boston near the New Hampshire state line in Haverhill MA (map), is small, with just 48 skiable acres, but therein are 13 trails, over half of them classed as Expert—well, easy Expert—(along with 17% Beginner and 33% Intermediate).
Eight lifts serve the trails: three triple chairs, three rope tows, and two T-bars.
Snowmaking covers 100% of the slopes.
Ski lessons are available for all ages and abilities, rental equipment is waiting for you, and the large base lodge has a snack bar and ample parking.
All this only 37 miles (60 km)—less than an hour's drive—north of the center of Boston.
Just east of Great Barrington MA, a medium-sized ski area with emphases on family fun and great snow.Since 1963, Ski Butternut in Great Barrington MA (map) has been committed to family skiing, and that's still its strong point.
The 110+ acres on Warner Mountain do indeed have lots of butternut trees, but the attraction is the 22 trails (20% Beginner, 60% Intermediate, 20% Expert) on the 1000-foot (305-meter) vertical drop served by 10 lifts (three quads, one triple, two doubles and four surface lifts).
Butternut prides itself on not just its 100% snowmaking capability, but also on the quality of the snow thus produced. The aim is to give families a high-quality skiing, snowboarding and tubing experience at reasonable cost.
Besides the downhill trails, Ski Butternut has two snowboard terrain parks, a snowtubing park with five lanes and its own lift, and eight miles (13 km) of Nordic/cross-country trails.
Ski Butternut is only one mile (1.6 km) from the center of the Berkshire Hills town of Great Barrington (map), so all of the town's lodging places—hotels, motels, inns, B&Bs—restaurants and shops are available to skiers, snowboarders and snowtubers. Click here for Berkshire Hills hotels.
Right on the Massachusetts-New York state line, Catamount is medium-sized, with good views and all services.Catamount Ski Resort, 125 miles (201 km) west of Boston, is right on the line: the state border between Massachusetts and New York in the southern Berkshire Hills. It's not far from the Connecticut border, either (map).
The 119-acre ski area features a 1000-foot (305-meter) vertical drop and 32 ski trails (40% Beginner, 27% Intermediate, 33% Expert) served by six lifts: one quad, one triple, two doubles, a Wonder Carpet for the little ones, and one hand tow.
Ridge Run trail to Upper and Lower Promenade trails is the longest ski run in the Berkshires at 2.5 miles (4 km).
Snowmaking covers 98% of the slopes, and there's night skiing from Wednesday through Saturday evenings.
Catamount Ski Resort has a terrain park for snowboarders, but no snowtubing.
3200 NY Route 23 (PO Box 639) (map)
This is the big one—the Berkshire Hills' major ski resort—with interesting slopes and trails, all services, and lots of special programs.Jiminy Peak, 150 miles west of Boston in the Berkshire Hills very near the New York State border (map), is Massachusetts' largest and most elaborate ski resort.
With 43 trails and 8 lifts (including the only six-passenger detachable lift in southern New England) serving 164 acres on a mountain with a 1140-foot (348-meter) vertical drop, Jiminy Peak is the closest thing you'll find to a Vermont ski resort in Massachusetts.
Lifts include the six-passenger detachable, two quads, three triples, one double and one surface lift. Snowmaking covers 93% of the trails.
The Brodie Mountain ski area has been incorporated into Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort as Jiminy's tubing area.
All the services my might want are in the Village Center: a Children's Center with lots of ski and snowboard lessons, child care for the very little ones, shops, restaurants and snack stands (including a day lodge at the top of the main lift), and a variety of lodgings from the all-suite Counry Inn hotel to a variety of two- and three-bedroom condominiums.
To get to Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, take Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike, Berkshire Spur) to Exit B-3, then follow NY Route 22 North to NY Route 43 East/MA Route 43 North to Brodie Mountain Road.
Although the vertical drop on the 53 skiable acres is only 240 feet (73 meters), there are 17 trails (18% Beginner, 41% Intermediate, 41% Expert) served by eight lifts: three triple chairs, one double chair, and four surface lifts.
Lessons, equipment rentals, food service and free parking are all here.
Nashoba Valley is just off MA Route 2A (Great Road) (map) in what certainly seems to be the town of Littleton, although legally the ski area is in the town of Westford.
A small local ski area south of the Massachusetts Turnpike.Otis Ridge Ski Area, 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Stockbridge MA in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts (map), is a small local ski area favored by nearby families.
Spread out on 60 skiable acres (24 hectares), its 11 trails (30% beginner, 40% Intermediate, 30% Expert) on a 400-foot (122-meter) vertical drop are served by a double chair lift, a T-bar and 3 rope tows.
The Ski & Snowboard Shop provides equipment sales and rentals. The snack bar, restaurant and lounge keep up your energy level and spirits, and Wifi in the lodge connects you to the Internet.
The largest ski area close to Boston, it's well-run, and you get a l-o-n-g day of skiing here because...the trails are floodlit for night skiing! You can even get there by train and bus.The summit of Wachusett Mountain, 52 miles (84 km) west of Boston just south of MA Route 2 in Princeton MA (map), is 2006 feet (611 meters) above sea level, making it the highest summit in eastern Massachusetts.
This is probably why the indigenous people called it Wachusett ("Great Mountain" in Algonquin).
They may as well have called it "good and easy," because it is: a good, fun, ski and snowboard mountain easy to get to from Boston and indeed from most cities in Massachusetts.
The vertical drop of 1000 feet (304 meters) is served by seven lifts: two triples, two quads and three surface lifts.
Over half (60%) of the 21 ski trails are classed as Intermediate, with 25% Beginner and 15% Expert. Some are floodlit for night skiing.
The 105-acre ski area has 100% snowmaking capability, and is located within the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, a state park.
The first ski trails here were laid out in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, but the ski and snowboard facilities have been greatly expanded and modernized since then, with even the addition of night skiing. You can ski until 10 pm!
To get to Wachusett Mountain from Boston (about an hour's drive), follow MA Route 2 West to Exit 25, then MA Route 140 south to Mile Hill Road and follow the signs.
Or, on weekends during ski season, take the MBTA Commuter Rail Ski Train on the Fitchburg Line from Boston's North Station to Fitchburg (1-1/2 hours), where a free shuttle bus will take you on the 20-minute ride directly to Wachusett Mountain Ski Area.
Too far to go? These two smaller ski areas are nearer to Boston:
A small local ski area near Worcester MA.Ski Ward (or Ward Hill Ski Area) is a small ski, snowboard and snow tubing area 8 miles northeast of Worcester MA (map) with a 210-foot vertical drop, 9 trails (30% Beginner, 30% Intermediate, 40% Expert), served by a triple chair lift, a T-bar and two handle pulls.
For novice snowboarders, there's an instructional terrain garden and a learning pipe.
Snowmaking covers 100% of the trails, equipment is available for rent, and lessons are offered at the Ski School. The lodge has a snack bar at fireside.
Five Tuba Slide lanes with their own two lifts provide lots of snow-tubing fun for all ages.
—by Tom Brosnahan