Black Mountain is one of the oldest ski areas in New Hampshire. Some of its trail date back to the days of the CCC in 1934. Black has been a family-owned mountain for many years. Up until recently, management did not display the most friendly attitude or best customer relation skills. However, new management (a different family member) seems to have changed the mountain for the better for 2016-17. More snow was made. There was a longer season. Nothing but positive vibes and experiences have circulated through the Mount Washington Valley.
Black has a south-facing exposure so it is typically one of the warmer mountains in the area. The flip side of this is that in spring that same exposure can lead to a faster snowmelt.
Mount Washington from the Summit (photo by Sam Shirley)
Black is one of the best examples of classic New England skiing anywhere. It is perfect for all levels of skiers and has terrain that ranges from gentle, winding green circles to extreme double black steeps and cliff drops. Huge snowmaking and grooming upgrades in recent years means that Black is no longer just a mountain for when natural snow is plentiful. Also new for 2017-2018 is a partnership with Ski the Whites which includes a rental shop renting alpine touring gear and regular touring events.
For an in depth trail-by-trail guide to Black Mountain click this link: http://www.gondyline.com/black-mountain.php It is somewhat outdated, but still mostly relevant.
2017-2018 Trail Map
Base Areas and Parking
The mountain is limited to one small base area. Parking is ample on all but the busiest days.
The lodge is large enough to comfortably accommodate the crowds that the mountain usually sees. The ticket counter, rentals, alpine touring rentals, and lockers are located on the lower floor, while the Lostbo Pub, cafeteria, and main seating areas are located on the middle floor. The upper (third) floor has more room for seating and is almost never crowded. Restrooms are located in a nearby building which can be accessed via an enclosed breezeway.
The base area at Black Mountain, photo by Jim Kenney
There are two primary lifts: a triple in front of the lodge, and a double that loads by the parking lot. The double serves the summit with a mid-station by the top of the triple.
View of the summit double chair mid-station, photo by Jim Kenney
Rope Tow - For first timers the rope tow serves a gentle slope in the meadow above the base lodge. It runs at a slow speed and is very easy to ride.
Grooming the Rope Tow Slope (photo by Sam Shirley)
J-Bar - This lift was installed in 1935 and was the first overhead cable lift in North America. It originally operated with hanging ropes to grab onto. In 1936 shovel handles were added for easier riding. In 1954 it was retrofitted as a J-bar. It serves two wide, easy slopes, but has not operated in a number of years.
Platter Pull - This lift was originally a Mueller T-bar installed in 1960, but was later converted to a platter pull with homemade carriers. It serves two novice slopes, but it's worth a ride even if you are a more advanced skier. It is a unique lift because it passes underneath the Summit Double.
Passing Under the Summit Double on the Platter Pull (photo by Sam Shirley)
East Bowl Triple - This triple was manufactured by Borving and installed in 1984. It starts just above the lodge and ends 2/3 of the way up the mountain at the top of East Bowl. It is the best way to acces the east side trails, but the west side trails can be acces via a traverse under the double. This lift is usually the busiest on the mountain and there will sometimes be a short line to board on busy days. It is a scenic and sunny ride through open forest and over wide slopes.
Approaching Tower 5 on the East Bowl Triple (photo by Sam Shirley)
Summit Double - This classic lattice tower double was manufactured by Mueller and installed in 1965. The Mueller center-pole chairs were replaced with Riblet chairs in 1990. It is a smooth and fast ride to the summit on the signature red chairs. You also have the option to disembark near the top of East Bowl at the mid-station. There usually isn't any line to get on, even though this lift is the only way to access the summit. It sometimes doesn't operate midweek or when there isn't much natural snow on the summit trails. This lift is unique because it passes over the Platter Pull.
Mid-Station on the Summit Double & Top of the East Bowl Triple (photo by Sam Shirley)
Summit Double Above the Mid-Station (photo by Sam Shirley)
Black is not laid out in a way that makes you think of single trails. Instead one brief trail leads to another. You can stitch together numerous routes down the mountain when natural snow is plentiful. Jackson Standard and Maple Slalom have a compelling pitch underneath the triple chair. Lower Galloping Goose is an accessible lower intermediate trail.
Carter Notch Glades, photo by Jim Kenney
Novice - Black is an excellent area for the first time skier or for the novice skier who wants to progress. For first timers the rope tow services a very easy and wide slope. After mastering this slope, skiers can move onto the Platter Pull. The two routes down from the Platter Pull are two novice trails called Ninow and Jubilee. Ninow is to skiers left and is the easier of the two. It is narrower than Jubilee, but has a more gentle pitch. From the top of the East Bowl Triple there are a number of novice trails that wind through the woods on the east side. These trails are some of the best novice trails in New England. The trails can also be accessed from the mid-station on the Summit Double, but the lift is more difficult to load and the unloading ramp is steep. Sugarbush, Sweet Dreams, Black Beauty, and Spruce are some of the trails which make up the maze of winding novice trails on the East Side which originate in the East Bowl.
Intermediate - Black Mountain is a paradise for intermediate skiers and has many excellent intermediate routes on both the East and West Sides. There is also one intermediate route from the summit called Upper Black Beauty. On the East Side Juniper, Galloping Goose, and Runaway are excellent intermediate cruisers. Numerous cut-throughs can be used to produce a wide variety of intermediate runs. Lo Road is an upper level intermediate trail that often has moguls and is a good alternative to East Bowl. On the West Side upper level intermediates can use Maple Slalom Chute to access blue square moguls on the ungroomed part of Sun Valley. The intermediate trail Valley View is one of the most popular on the mountain and can be accessed via Maple Slalom Chute and Sun Valley or by crossing under both chairlifts from Chute. Valley View leads to a few intermediate options including Bob-A-Link and Lower Speedwell.
Sun Valley (photo by Sam Shirley)
Expert - Even the most experienced expert skiers will find challenge at Black Mountain. Upper Jackson Standard, Upper Speedwell, Upper Maple Slalom, and Big Dipper stand out as great choices for groomed black diamond skiing, although Upper Maple Slalom will sometimes be left ungroomed and huge moguls will form. Roller Coaster and Maple Slalom are two of Black's signature trails. They are wide meadows between the triple and double which are never groomed and are the place to be on a powder day. There will usually be untracked sections that last into the afternoon. Down Under is a unique run under the length of the East Bowl Triple. It starts from a tiny entrance between trees off of Sun Valley. From there it follows a often narrow, but sometimes wide path under the triple. It is never groomed and somewhat steep. White Knuckle is a challenging double black diamond which relies on natural snow. Lostbo is a unique trail that drops incredibly steeply off the summit into a ravine. You then ski up the other wall of the ravine to reduce speed and then turn around to ski out to Upper Black Beauty through the bottom of the ravine. Upper Galloping Goose is a signature double black directly under the Summit Double. The easiest route down Upper Galloping Goose is a steep and very narrow set of switchbacks that often requires jump turns to negotiate successfully. Harder routes directly down the trail all require cliff drops (they will be watching from the chairlift).
Upper Jackson Standard (photo by Sam Shirley)
Maple Slalom (photo by Sam Shirley)
Upper Galloping Goose (photo by Sam Shirley)
Glades - Black Mountain has glades available for all skill levels, from the first time glade skier to the cliff hucking expert. Sugar Glades and Rabbit Run are perfect for the first time glade skier; they have a gentle pitch and a wide path through the trees. Black Forest is the next step up and provides a more traditional glade experience. After Black Forest ends it is possible to continue across Sweet Dreams onto the Never Ending Trail. The Never Ending Trail is a few narrow routes through the forest that seem to go on for a long time. They have little pitch and are a good glade for intermediate skiers. Maple Glades and White Forest are upper level glades with a few optional drops. T2 and Carter Notch Glades are two of Black's most well-known glades. They are both very steep and have medium to large cliff drops. Lostbo Glades and Black N' Blue are two of the hardest runs on the mountain. They are extremely steep and the routes through the trees are very narrow. Jump turns are often required and large portions are signed as "no fall zones". If you plan to venture into these difficult gladed areas, read the warning signs and it is recommended to travel with at least one other skier.
Lostbo Glades Warning Sign (photo by Sam Shirley)
Local Ski Shops
Stan and Dan's in North Conway is the most popular shop in the region. We recommend Sport Thoma in Bartlett for most needs including demo skis. For a more affordable off-mountain rental option, check out Heaven's Ski Shop in Glen.
Where to Stay
There is a hotel at the base, but the better choice is to stay elsewhere in the Mount Washington Valley. The variety local ski and lodging options in the Mt Washington Valley dwarf any other ski town in the East. An overview is available from the local chamber of commerce.
The Mt Washington Valley is also home to the numerous ski clubs of the Eastern Inter-Club Ski League (EICSL). All the clubs offer bunk style accommodations for around $25 per night. The EICSL clubs are a diverse, organized league with clubs that cater to singles, couples, and families. Every club has its own vibe so submit an inquiry and they'll try to match you. Staying at the clubs is a great way to meet ski partners and far more entertaining that sitting around a hotel room.
Where to Eat and Drink
Your lunch options are limited to the Lostbo Pub. Food is typically mountain fare. For for apres, you are in for a treat. The slope-side Shovel Handle Pub is one of the best bars and restaurants in the valley. The atmosphere is a charming exposed wood post-beam construction.
There are numerous restaurants and bars throughout the valley. Some great dining options include Tuckerman's Tavern, Flatbread Company, Red Parka Pub, Delaney's, May Kelly's, and the Moat Brewery. For breakfast check out Yesterday's in Jackson or the Sunrise Shack in Bartlett. The Moat Brewery, Delaney's, and Red Parka all offer nightlife, but New Hampshire ends all the fun by 1am at the latest.
Sunset from Upper Maple Slalom (photo by Sam Shirley)
For more information: https://www.blackmt.com/
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Edited by New England Skier 13