By Tim Peck
Bitter cold and low snow totals during the East Coast winter breed stoic, hardened skiers driven by their passion for the sport. Then snow season transitions to mud and mosquitoes, which give way to the long, humid summer. These are the days that test us. Because we—obviously—would rather ski icy moguls and frost-nip our toes in search of powder than sit by the proverbial pool. Wouldn’t you?
Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do in New England to distract us from our skiing withdrawal. Here’s a roundup of some of the best:
Ride Brown Pow in Vermont
When New England skiers think of the Green Mountain State, their minds drift to powder-filled birch groves. But the state’s mountain biking may be even better than its skiing. Whether you’re looking for all-day rides on incredible trail systems like Kingdom Trails, Millstone Trails, or Ascutney, or downhill thrills at places like Mount Snow or Killington, Vermont has you covered. Even uber-luxurious Stowe likes to get dirty and is packed with world-class singletrack.
Explore Maine’s Acadia National Park
The altitude of Acadia National Park’s tallest mountain wouldn’t even register on a Coloradan’s radar; it’s only 1,529 feet, roughly 3,000 feet lower than the city of Denver and 6,000 feet below Telluride! However, unlike Colorado’s mountains, Acadia’s peaks are located right next to the Atlantic Ocean and offer unique rock climbing on sea cliffs and oceanside mountain hikes. Plus, dawn patrol in Acadia means being one of the first people in the U.S. to see sunrise. After a day of exploring Maine’s craggy coastline, kick back with this video to see just how good the skiing can be—if you’re lucky enough to be there after three feet of snow.
Dip Into the Moat in North Conway, New Hampshire
With iconic rock climbing, awesome mountain bike trails, easy access to the Saco River, and close proximity to Mount Washington, North Conway, New Hampshire is the hub of New England mountain sports. And the hub for outdoorsy people in North Conway is Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery, or simply “the Moat.” Whether you’ve been sweating on Whitehorse slabs, riding the epic Red Tail Trail, or soaking in the Saco, a pint (or two) at the Moat is the perfect way to end a day of adventure in North Conway.
Ramble Up Tuckerman Ravine on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington
The most iconic ski terrain in the east is found in “Tucks,” and a ski descent of its infamous bowl is a rite of passage for New England skiers. No snow means easier access in summer. Summiting 6,289-foot Mount Washington is at the top of every eastern hiker’s bucket list. Ascend the rock pile via Tuckerman Ravine Trail, which takes you past some of the East’s most storied ski territory. And of all the summery things to do in New England, the climb might be the coolest. The record high temperature on the summit of Mount Washington is 72 degrees.
Mountain Bike Vietnam—Massachusetts
Located 40 miles from Boston and 25 miles from Providence, Milford, Massachusetts, is an unlikely mountain bike destination. However, mention the trails at Vietnam to any New England biker and you’ll hear about super-steep rollers, huge granite drops, and nearly impassable rock gardens. Anonymous locals send everything while riding a hardtail and wearing jeans. More than merely home to some of New England’s most technical riding, Vietnam is part of mountain bike history. When threatened by development, the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) purchased the area and became the first mountain bike group to own its own property.
Beach and Boulder in Rhode Island
Rhode Island isn’t the first place most people think of in rock climbing terms. But for many New England climbers, Lincoln Woods, or simply “the Woods”—located just outside of Providence—is the perfect place to pass long summer days. Here, you’ll find a huge collection of giant granite boulders packed closely together. Although prime “sending” temps don’t come until the fall, the Woods has a plethora of moderate problems that are well suited for sweaty summer sessions. And if peeling off a project gets old, cool off in the lake nearby. Of course, a true New Englander knows it’s sacreligious to swim in a lake while in the Ocean State, so make the short drive to one of the state’s great beaches.
Advocate for Backcountry Skiing
New England is home to a growing backcountry ski scene. It’s also home to less expansive public land than the West. Keeping terrain skiable and developing new lines requires a lot of hard work. So does negotiating with landowners and advocating the benefits of backcountry skiing. If you enjoy earning turns in the trees in the winter, help make them happen in the summer by joining one of the region’s growing number of advocacy groups, most notably the Vermont Backcountry Alliance, Rochester/Randolph Area Sport Trails Alliance (affectionately called RASTA), or the Granite Backcountry Alliance. Even better, show up for a work day and lend a hand.
Out of summertime things to do in New England? Queue up your favorite videos by East-Coast-based Meathead Films and Ski the East. Sip Heady Topper, and ‘X’ another day off the ski season countdown.
Out West and ready to send out an SOS? Check our skier survival guide for summer in Utah.