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Those who learn to love winter sports (and those who always have!) can take advantage of all four Massachusetts seasons.
Whether you are a beginner or a lifelong skier, there are many options for both.
Here’s a guide to skiing in Massachusetts, from inexpensive half-days to slope side luxury. This year, safe to say, we aren’t lacking for snow, so no need to travel north for either option.
Photo: Ski School at Wachusett
On A Budget
In general, it is much less expensive to go cross-country (Nordic) skiing. It is a great workout, very family-friendly and a perfect introduction to the sport. For veterans, it’s easy; just grab some skis, check the snow temperature and head out to the nearest suitable spot.
If you are new to skiing, head over to the Weston Ski Track in Weston, MA, where you can rent skis, get a lesson, and have the knowledgeable staff help you. Weston has 15 km of natural snow trails and 2.5 km of trails made with help from the Charles River. The snowmaking trails are lit for night skiing, too, which is a good touch.
Photo: Learning the ropes at Weston Ski Track
For children 6-12, a beginner pass, which covers rental, lesson and trail pass, is $28. Over February break, children can take the School Vacation Series, where they’ll meet for one-hour sessions on three days during the week from 2-3 p.m.; taking part in the series is $59 per student, and also includes one adult trail pass valid for the class days. ($83 with student ski rentals)
For saving on downhill ski trips, take advantage of twilight skiing, which usually starts at 3:00 p.m. and goes until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. This is especially good for travel days, because if you are driving to a spot nearby for February vacation, you can settle into your hotel, airbnb or rental and then spend the late afternoon skiing.
Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Charlemont has Saturday Family Nights January through March (excluding holidays). From 4:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Saturdays, you can get 4 lift tickets for $62, beginner lessons for $10 and rentals for $30, which come with a helmet (it goes down to $20 if you have your own helmet).
Ski Bousquet in Pittsfield, MA is a great spot for starters as well. Lift tickets are $45 on weekends and holidays; along with an evening rate of $20 from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. There is a beginner carpet-only lift ticket for $15 as well.
Photo: The view from the bottom at Ski Bousquet
Ski Butternut, another good Berkshires destination for families seeking time on the slopes, has a 5th Graders Ski Free program, which is valid with a paid adult ticket on Sunday through Friday (excluding holidays).
A Little Luxury
Skiing can be intimidating for late learners (aka adults), but the ski hills hire amazing instructors, so taking advantage of a private ski lesson may be just the thing for you. In general, kids seem to do best in group lessons, but for mom or dad, a little one-on-one time might be better. Private lessons generally range from about $100 for one hour to $450 for a full day.
For a little off-slope luxury in the Berkshires, the famed Red Lion Inn is a great place to stay, featuring amazing food, a partner spa, grocery and lunch delivery, a reading room, movies and more. There is also the luxurious Cranwell Resort, which has rooms for couples or families of all sizes, as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on-site. Trail passes are included for overnight guests, or are $12 for the day for children (6-12) and $16 for adults.
Photo: Cranwell Resort during winter by Ogden Gigli
Wachussett Mountain in Princeton offers the perfect slope side luxury, with mountain suites like your own private living room. You can book them by the day (8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), the night (4:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.) or as a day/night combination. Inside the suite, you can have all kinds of catering arranged, from buffets to plated dinners to refreshments to desserts. Specialty displays, hot d’oeuvres and cocktail hour are available, too.
Photo: The Ash Room at Wachusett courtesy of Wachusett Mountain
Each Wachusett suite has a private bathroom, a private deck, a seating area with couches and comfy chairs, a dining table, flat screen TVs, WiFi, concierge service for lift tickets, rentals, demo equipment, and reserved parking. The suites accommodate 15 people, and the combined Elm/Fir suite can house up to 30 people.
Photo: Kids ski school on the mountain at Wachusett
The ultimate luxury for cross-country ski lovers who also like a little time at the spa is a stay at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. Canyon Ranch is an all-inclusive health and wellness resort, the ideal setting to get away with a girlfriend or significant other.
Photo: Fireplace in the lounge at Canyon Ranch
There are special deals to spend some quality time with your college student when he or she is home on break, but it’s worth noting Canyon Ranch only accommodates guests 17 and over. In addition to yoga, meditation classes, zumba, spinning, and tennis lessons, there is complimentary (with your stay) cross-country skiing on groomed trails during the winter.
Photo: Outside Canyon Ranch with snow on the ground
You can sign up for individual or group cross-country ski lessons at Canyon Ranch. There is even a Winter Snow Adventure, during which you cross-country ski up Saddleback Mountain, snowshoe to the summit of Mount Greylock and then ski down to the trailhead. The adventure package runs $455 for the six-hour program.
Photo: Sunset through the window at Canyon Ranch
Leah Klein lives with her children in Cambridge, MA, and loves to explore all that New England has to offer, from day trips to weekend escapes. You can virtually follow her journeys on her blog, Leah’s Life: Pearls And Oysters.