Winter sport wonderland
JAMES PEARCE hits the slopes of New Hampshire for a thrill- seeking winter sports adventure
MY snowmobile is pushing 45mph as we climb higher and higher towards the summit.
The experience is as exhilarating as it is breathtaking. The adrenaline is pumping as we negotiate the winding pine tree- lined trail to the top of Bear Notch.
Once there, with the roar of the engines silenced, we gaze in wonder at the panoramic views of Mount Washington and Mount Chocora. It really is a stunning setting.
A two- hour cruise with Northern Extreme Adventures ( northernextremessnowmobiling.com) was one of the highlights of an action- packed whistle- stop tour of the American state of New Hampshire.
The 50- plus miles of trails close to the town of Bartlett are perfect for inexperienced riders with all the equipment, including moon boots and helmets, provided. You’ve got to have a valid driver’s licence to operate a snowmobile and passengers must be at least five years of age.
New Hampshire, which is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, gave America its 14th president, its first astronaut, the alarm clock and the Segway. With its jagged mountains, lush river valleys and dense forests, it also boasts remarkable natural beauty. No wonder it’s such a popular spot for winter sports lovers from across the globe and it’s never been easier or cheaper to get there.
Our four- day trip started onboard Norwegian’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner direct flight from Gatwick to Boston’s Logan International Airport. One- way seats in economy are available from just £ 139.
They might be low cost but they set a high bar both in terms of comfort and polite crew members who couldn’t do more to help.
Within seven hours we had touched down in Boston and our first stop was a two- hour drive north to the town of Meredith.
We checked into Mill Falls at the Lake ( millfalls. com), a group of inns located along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. The room boasted a roaring fireplace and sofa area with a balcony looking out over the snow- covered lake.
Breakfast in the Lakehouse Grille the following morning didn’t disappoint, the local speciality of eggs lobster benedict proved a big hit.
From there it was a 45- minute drive to Alpine Adventures ( alpinezipline. com) in Lincoln where we boarded a six- wheeled Swiss Army vehicle called a Pinzgauer for some off- road pursuits.
The journey was bumpy to say the least but the views of Barron Mountain were memorable. With the vehicle being open- sided, wrapping up warm is a necessity.
After lunch and a tour around the delightful Woodstock Station & Brewery ( woodstockinnnh. com), which was reassuringly packed out with locals, it was on to the Loon Mountain Resort ( loonmtn. com).
It’s a year- round family adventure destination offering downhill skiing, ice skating, indoor climbing and ziplining.
We kicked things off with the latter, zooming 700ft across the Pemigewasset River and then back again on a higher line. Two expert instructors were on hand to check and recheck harnesses and to encourage the nervous ones over the edge of the platform.
After that it was on to the slopes. I hadn’t skied properly for two decades but after a couple of ungainly and bruising falls on the nursery slopes it soon came back to me.
The snowplough was ditched and the parallel turns meant I got the green light to take the lift to the main slopes. Our second night was spent at the vast Mountain View Grand Resort in Whitefield ( mountainviewgrand.com). Built in 1856, it oozes history and has the oldest elevator in New Hampshire which is still manned by a concierge. However, there’s nothing dated about either the rooms or the extensive dinner menu.
It became the first resort in the state to gain AAA four diamond status for both dining and lodgings in the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.
The following morning we got involved in the resort’s array of activities which vary from the relaxing to the downright bizarre.
First we toured the farm, with its chickens, llamas and goats, and then hit the snow- coated hills for some tubing. Next came the axe- throwing competition which apparently is a skill in these parts.
It’s essentially darts but with axes which you launch from above your head to hit a board about 10 metres away. The closer to the bullseye, the more points you score.
It was time for some relaxation and we headed to the hotel’s Tower Spa to enjoy its infinity hot tub and striking views of the White Mountains.
After that we embarked on a guided nature walk at the AMC Highland Centre before experiencing the thrill of the snowmobiling.
On our last night we stayed at the picturesque Christmas Farm Inn in Jackson and sat down for dinner with charming owners Gary and Sandra Plourde ( christmasfarminn.com).
It may have been smaller than the other hotels but it was the pick of the bunch – an absolute gem of a place. It’s warm, welcoming and the restaurant is outstanding. The lobster and shrimp scampi will live long in the memory.
Christmas Farm Inn is a collection of lodges dotted on the hillside above the main house, forming a small community of beautifully rustic and cosy cabins. It’s the kind of setting you really don’t want to leave and is perfect for both romantic breaks and family getaways.
Having finally prised ourselves away after breakfast, we hit the slopes for one final time.
We headed for Attitash Mountain Resort ( attitash. com) which offers wide runs for all abilities with its 68 trails and 11 lifts. There are also amazing views of Mount Washington across the valley.
With around 200 inches of snow landing each year, there’s no shortage of the white stuff and the thriving ski season runs from November through to the end of March.
After a brief stop off at Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm ( remickmuseum. org), a 200- year- old working farm, for a maple- syrup cooking experience, it was back to Boston for the journey home.
My love for winter sports had been well and truly rekindled. From the people to the scenery to the activities, New Hampshire surpassed all expectations.
Snowmobiling with Northern Extreme Adventures offers stunning views of Mount Washington The historic Mountain View Grand Resort in Whitefield, New Hampshire