Snowmaking on every trail makes for reliable conditions at Pats Peak. (Pats Peak)
New Hampshire’s Pats Peak may not be the biggest mountain in the state, but trail count alone doesn’t define the character and reach of this family-owned New England ski area, home to 70 adult race teams and a ski and ride school that lures more than 8,000 school kids and each year.
Eat. No trip to Pats Peak is complete without a famous M&Ms cookie from the Tradewinds Café. As big as a dinner plate, there’s plenty to share, but after that first bite you might want it all to yourself. For lunch, grab a made-to-order gourmet grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup from Grilled Cheese, Plz.
Stay. The Colby Hill Inn, just three miles from Pats, is the quintessential New England Inn, with farm-to-table dining and an indulgent breakfast that may make you forget about getting out for first tracks.
Trails. Novices will find that getting down the mountain from any lift is doable; Whisper and Puff off the Turbulence triple instill confidence in even the littlest groms. To show off your stuff, try not to get lost in the bumps on Hurricane, with sustained steeps the full length of the run right under the Hurricane Triple. If the front of the mountain is getting busy with all those race kids, head over to Cascade Basin on the back of the mountain with winding cruisers and fun chances to pop in and out of the woods.
Play. Twenty-two trails at Pats are lit at night, keeping the fun going well after dark. Pay-One-Price (POP) Saturday Nights gets you lesson tips, lifts, tubing, rentals, entertainment, bonfires and more 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. (tubing 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.).
Travel. If you arrive early in the day, you will probably get to park very close the lodge area. For later arrivals, there are unloading zones in front of the lodge and ticketing areas, and the walk from your car is still a short one.
Deals. The Passport Program Plus for adults ($349) includes four beginner lift, lesson and rental packages. Complete the four lessons and get a free Pats Peak Unlimited Season Pass, valid for the rest of the season, and a free pair of Elan skis with bindings, plus additional ski shop and lesson discounts.