Perhaps one of the least known, smaller, and most isolated ski and board areas of the Vail Resorts acquisitions, Crotched Mountain, is nonetheless a fun and beautiful place suitable for everyone. Located in Francestown, New Hampshire, its 100% night skiing and riding operation brings a younger, after-school crowd and families looking for an after-school/work activity. During the day, families can enjoy a good active day among the variety of trails and glades.
The history of Crotched goes back to 1964 when the first trails were cut, and in 1970, new trails were cut in their present location. The mountain tried to develop quickly, building a relatively large condo development, which led to the closure of the resort in 1989. After 13 years of sitting idle, Peak Resorts (then owner of Attitash, Wildcat, Jack Frost/Big Boulder, Hunter, and Mount Snow) reopened the resort, building the current main lodge and significantly improving the infrastructure. In 2019, Peak Resorts was acquired by Vail Resorts and Crotched became part of their portfolio.
Crotched Mountain is located west of Manchester, NH, about an hour and forty minutes from Boston’s Logan Airport, an hour twenty from White River Junction, VT, and two hours from Springfield, MA. There is no direct access from an interstate highway, only local roads. Being a bit out of the way makes it generally less crowded than the sardine-can feeling of many Vail-owned resorts.
The mountain features 1,016 vertical feet with a high-speed quad, a fixed grip quad, a triple chair, a double chair, and a magic carpet. Crotched has 100 acres of ski terrain, and 25 runs, the longest of which is 1.2 miles. For a small area, it is quite versatile in its terrain, having a well-maintained terrain park among other features. All terrain is covered by an advanced snowmaking system.
For the Mid-Atlantic skier who is making a trip to Northern New England with an Epic Pass, especially with children, Crotched may be a convenient side trip. The mountain is primarily a beginner and intermediate area, with their black diamonds being quite easy to negotiate. All the facilities are contained in one building, so keeping track of kids isn’t hard to do. The resort is also regionally popular as one of the best night skiing locations in the state.
An interesting feature of Crotched Mountain is that most runs and lifts have a space or astrological theme. Comet Drop, Supernova, Lift Off, Meteor, Galaxy, The Rocket, Comet, and Shooting Star are but a few of the names at the mountain.
The main lodge is the basic building at Crotched. It is a huge building resembling an aircraft hangar and about the size of one. Within it, every conceivable customer service and resort management activity takes place.
Entering the main lodge via the center door, there is a customer service area for lift tickets, information, donning of boots and equipment, and lockers. To the right of the customer service area, there are ski rentals and tune and repair services. To the left, there are bathrooms, offices, ski patrol, and operations. A huge stairway leads upstairs to the upper level. The entire upper level has a gigantic cafeteria and seating area with direct access to the outside, taking advantage of the sloping terrain. At the right end of the second floor, a large bar separated from the cafeteria offers sit-down service and a full bar.
Snowmaking at Crotched is superb. For comparison, it is worth noting that the nearest Vail Resorts destination, Mount Sunapee, can only muster 8 trails open when Crotched can quickly open 14 or 15 trails.
Starting the day at Crotched Mountain, parking is no problem due to its large, free parking area. Entering the main lodge and donning boots and equipment, the next stop is The Rocket high-speed quad to the top. From there, blues and black diamonds make their way down the mountain, with Pluto’s Revenge, the Eclipse, and Equinox the favorite ones.
For beginners, two areas with lifts on each side of the mountain provide a smoother beginning. On the West side, the West Lift, a fixed double, takes the boarder/skier up to several, very scenic, green runs such as Supernova and ReEntry, as well as a beautifully maintained glade, Final Frontier. On the East side of the resort, the Valley lift, a fixed quad, leads to the terrain park, and several blue and green runs.
One particular event at Crotched is their Midnight Madness. On five designated dates, the event features $10 rentals, free glow sticks, drink specials, and skiing and riding until midnight. The event caters to a younger crowd.
Although small, Crotched Mountain is very well-designed and offers family amenities and comforts that would be found in larger places. Its grooming and snowmaking systems vastly outrank those of many other New England resorts, even several Vail Resorts. For a leisurely-paced place, it merits a visit.
While actually born in the tropics (Cuba), Lou grew up in New England and went to College in Vermont, where he initially took up skiing. He then embarked on a twenty-two year Air Force piloting career that took him to over 50 countries. He has skied in Europe and America (both North and South). His second career as a senior officer with the Federal Government spanned thirteen years and in 2010, Lou retired to pursue a more leisurely life style.
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