Skiers and riders cruising up I-93 in New Hampshire often blow right by the Lake Winnipesaukee region, heeding the call of Loon or the steeps of Cannon Mountain without a second thought about Gilford's Gunstock Mountain Resort. Pull into the parking lot, and you can see why Gunstock often gets overlooked: At first glance, the slopes seem underwhelming—more hill than mountain.
But it's not for nothing that Gunstock has survived for an amazing 80 years (skiers cut the first trails here in 1937), and first looks can be deceiving.
The Pros of Skiing and Riding at Gunstock
- Best views of any ski resort in New England
- Close proximity to Boston and southern New England
- Nice variety of trails from the summit, including glades accessible to intermediate skiers
- Excellent Blundersmoke Terrain Park for boarders, the largest night park in New Hampshire
- Extensive night skiing Tuesday through Saturday
- Average ski-area dining options
- No "ski village" atmosphere
- Only one high-speed chairlift
Gunstock Mountain Review: Go for the Views
With 1,400 feet of vertical and the third-longest chairlift in the East, Gunstock skis much bigger than it looks.
The high-speed Panorama Quad lift whisks you to the summit, and as you turn off the lift hill, you'll be startled not just by the sneaky elevation gain but also by the incredible (and yes, panoramic) views of Lake Winnipesaukee. Gunstock's ski trails undulate over a stepped fall line that allows for long, pleasant cruiser runs but also provide some moderate steeps and at least one highly entertaining, minimally groomed mid-mountain throwback called Hot Shot: a black-diamond trail that's narrow, twisting, steep and often icy... some might say classic New England skiing at its best.
Most ski resorts claim they offer something for everyone: What's nice about Gunstock is the layout provides snowboarders, racers and recreational skiers and sliders each a place they can call their own. The left side of the area is home to the Blundersmoke Terrain Park, one of three parks where boarders can test their skills against a truly impressive array of jumps, bumps, rails and halfpipe.
Ski racers typically turn right off the summit lift to speed down slalom-friendly trails like Flintlock to the Flats and Stonebar, while the mid-mountain offers intermediates the moderate challenge of Gunsmoke and beginners the chance to test their skills on wide, lower mountain trails like Smith, Phelps and Ricochet.
Beginners have their own place to learn, as well, and non-skiers can enjoy the mix of speed and snow at Gunstock's five-chute tubing park. Intermediates, who eye with envy more advanced skiers who turn off the main trails and into the woods, will also enjoy Gunstock: The Parallex glades connect green and blue trails and provide a relatively open and forgiving introduction to skiing among the trees.
Dining options are pretty average—your typical ski-lodge fare served in a trio of unpretentious cafeterias—but the Powder Keg Restaurant offers good apres-ski drinks and bar food in a warm atmosphere, including a small but sunny deck.
Gunstock Mountain Resort is located at 719 Cherry Valley Road in Gilford, NH. Call 603-293-4341 for information.
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