At the base of Mount Washington, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center is a mecca for outdoor adventures lasting a few hours or an entire day.
The center serves up 45 kilometers of cross-country skiing trails that rise and fall gently enough to provide a challenge but do not intimidate. The trails are built on a solid base, which allows for two things many touring centers don’t have — the ability to ski on very little snow because of the smooth surface underneath and the ability to drive trucks on the trails to move snow around.
Great Glen was one of the first cross-country areas to have snowmaking. Although the center blows snow only on 2 to 3 kilometers, it can be loaded into trucks, driven to where it’s needed and spread around. Every night almost every trail is groomed. Usually a double track is set for classic skiers, still leaving plenty of room for skate skiing as well. “With our snowmaking and nightly grooming, our conditions are very predictable,” says general manager Howie Wemyss.
Howie’s wife Sue, a 1984 Olympic cross-country skier, heads up the ski school, which offers group and private lessons. Even a group lesson offers a fairly personal learning experience, as there is a maximum student/teacher ratio of 4 to 1. Lessons may be purchased alone if you have your own equipment or as a package including rentals and a full-day trail pass.
Snowshoeing is allowed on all cross-country trails. In addition, there are dedicated snowshoe and backcountry trails separate from the main trail network. Every Saturday, a member of the Great Glen staff leads a free guided snowshoe tour suitable for all abilities. On selected evenings, there’s an evening snowshoe tour led by a naturalist from the Appalachian Mountain Club. In keeping with the low-key, low-impact approach to the outdoors, Great Glen has an old-fashion tubing hill. Walk, ski or snowshoe to the hill, grab a tube and slide down the broad, open, groomed expanse, then walk back up with your tube and do it all over again.