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Waterville Valley

Attitash l Bretton Woods l Balsams l Cannon l Cranmore l Crotched l Gunstock l Loon l Ragged l Waterville Valley l Wildcat

Back to Black Mountain, Jackson New Hampshire

A ski area with no terrain park! How can that be? No high speed quad either? Why would you take your kids there? I’ll tell you why. Because Black Mountain in New Hampshire may be the best thing for you, your kids, and your wallet.

Black Mountain is retro skiing, the way the sport used to be - in a good way. Picture true trail skiing – the kind that follows the mountain’s inherent fall line down 1,100’ vertical and snakes down tree lined routes on soft natural snow. No buffed wide boulevards here, but there is Black Beauty instead - a 1.5 mile long path from the scenic summit that will have you and the kids wondering what awaits around the next bend, and whether you might encounter another skier – doubtful.

Black MountainBlack has a reliable old double chair that spaces skiers out on summit trails White Knuckle and Maple Slalom, and gets you to the best views of nearby Attitash and mighty Mount Washington. Or you can unload just prior to the summit steeps to reach the majority of more mellow runs like Sun Valley and Galloping Goose.

Black’s two slow scenic chairlifts provide time to reflect, relax and enjoy a more classic concept of skiing (with a bonus sunny southern exposure). There is nothing hurried here (unlike many mountains that have become downright hectic from find parking to fighting your way through the lift line). At age 75, Black still hums at a happy pace, without the latest fanfare of 40'machine made jumps or the frenzy of detachable lifts. The views are pastoral in this picturesque town of Jackson, right down to the pasture of horses you can pet next to the cozy base lodge.

Black MountainInside the lodge is affordable food and a lively Pub with couches to view the horses and the sunny slopes you skied, a welcome compliment to your $99 day family ticket. That’s family value - when four of you (2 adults, 2 kids) can ski a weekend day for just $99, $79 midweek.

The skiing history lesson is included with your kids’ ticket; Black is New Hampshire’s oldest ski area (circa 1934). Black is home to the first overhead cable lift in the country which used shovel handles to hold onto, pretty “cool.” Though I wouldn’t dwell on its’ museum qualities with the kids. Instead, show them the naturally undulating terrain on Playground and Roller Coaster. You don’t need huge halfpipes and rainbow rails to get air and do tricks. Black even has exciting glades, from the gnarly Lostbo to the more tame Sugar Glades, for fun in the tree runs.

I for one am tiring of monstrous modern terrain parks. Metal rails and staircases are way too urban for me and have no semblance to the real sport of skiing. I wonder where the sport is going, and I am glad I can go back to Black.

Black Mountain

All Stories by Heather Burke
All Photography by Greg Burke
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