Dartmouth Ski Getaways

ski getaways

The Skiway, as it's known locally, is a favorite of locals and the Dartmouth College community. It's the home hill for the nationally ranked Dartmouth Alpine Team. Thousands of Dartmouth students have learned to ski (and now snowboard) here and perhaps saw snow for the first time. Generations of kids have cycled through the Ford-Sayre ski program on the Skiway's slopes or have participated in a ski program here through area schools. Moms and Dads love the Skiway because it's a safe place to drop off the kids for a morning or afternoon of snowplay without worrying about where to find them later.

The Skiway does all this without much fanfare. A quad, a double, and a short J-bar serve about 968 feet of vertical and trails on two mountains. Holt's Ledge and Winslow Mountain face each other across a dirt road. With the trails about equally divided between both faces, it's a matter of personal preference which side you ride, but there is a connector trail from Howard Chivers to Middle Thomas making it easy to get back and forth between the two. Winslow is generally easier and faces the afternoon sun. Holt's is decidedly steeper and faces north and east. Snowmaking is about equally divided between the two halves and covers about 70% of the terrain. The Skiway sits in an area of steep hills and low mountains and tends to catch a fair amount of natural snow. But snowmaking crews pump out tons of durable stuff, made to take a season's worth of racing and training, and the skiing public are the beneficiaries.

The venerable but cramped base lodge was replaced in 2000 with the 16,000 square foot McLane Lodge, a handsome building that sits gracefully at the base of Winslow. It's the focal point for a day at the Skiway and houses all services including the rental shop.

With the exception of Cum Laude and Lower Thomas (the latter often used for racing) the Winslow side has the easier terrain, but with all the character you'd expect from an old New England area. MBA in particular, although rated intermediate, has a steep drop about a third of the way down. But the steepest stuff is over on Holt's Ledge, where Don Worden's Schuss, another race trail, drops steeply through its first half. Lower Gauntlet, often bumped up, is another testing drop. Speaking of drops, the drop in Lyme Drop would be rated black diamond if it weren't so wide. It's in full view of the base lodge and the Holt's Double lift line. The Holt's Ledge side also features a few unofficial shots and narrow tracks through the woods, made by generations of kids but enjoyed by them even when they've grown up - or enjoyed with their own kids. Recently the Skiway has expanded its terrain park on Upper Chivers and includes tabletops, spines, rails and a quarter pipe.

Only 20 minutes outside the town of Hanover, the Skiway is uncomplicated, rarely crowded and offers an honest ski experience in a traditional New England setting.