Skiiers ski at Pats peak

The 6 Best Small-Town Ski Hills Near Boston

Photo: PATS PEAK/Rob Bossi

You don’t need to go far from the city to find accessible ski and snowboard options.

While there are eight different ski resorts within a two-hour drive of Boston, six of them are located even closer. That means simple weekend escapes and easy options for weekday or even weeknight outings (with many offering night skiing). While these smaller ski hills might not have Everest-like vertical or the expanse of Western mega-resorts, what they do have is unequaled proximity to Beantown. And that access can help you learn a new sport, or fit a few runs into busy work and school schedules. Keep in mind the area’s topography, though: The nearer a ski hill is to Boston, the lower its altitude and the shorter its runs. But, rest assured there are still some quality turns to be had at these local ski areas that won’t break the bank or gas tank—in ascending order of distance from downtown.   

Blue Hills Ski Area - Canton, MA 

Just 17 miles away from Boston, Blue Hills Ski Area is the closest ski area to Beantown, located on the western face of Great Blue Hill, part of the Blue Hills Reservation State Park, which has trails open to cross-country skiers if snowpack allows. While the (downhill) Ski Area itself is not huge (at just 60 acres with 16 trails, four lifts, and a vertical drop of 309 feet), what it lacks in size it makes up for in proximity to the city, which it’s been serving since 1935. It also offers night skiing and has doubled its snowmaking capacity. Best for: the quickest downhill action you can find. 

Ski Bradford - Haverhill, MA  

Just 31 miles from Boston in Haverhill is Ski Bradford, whose 60 acres and nine lifts harbor 15 trails, tree-lined glades and a terrain park. Even though its vertical drop only clocks in at 248 feet, it’s done a good job of varying its terrain for different skill levels, offering something for everyone. Night skiing and snowmaking enhance the experience, as do its three triple chairs, keeping lines down. Lessons and rentals are also available. Best for: a whole family starting to learn, where some might be a hair more adventurous than others.  

Nashoba Valley - Westford, MA  

Nashoba Valley is just a 45-minute drive from Boston and is the perfect resort for beginners to fine-tune their skills. While its 240-foot vertical isn’t overly challenging, it’s perfect for beginners and low intermediates looking to progress onto blues. You’ll get high-level snowmaking and grooming across its 50 acres and 17 trails, meaning no unexpected surprises. It also has a Playground Park for younger kids and novices and night skiing until 10 p.m. Bonus: It’s home to New England’s largest snow tubing park for when the kids just want to relax and glide. Best for: beginner skiers and riders looking to hone their skills.

A snowboarder at Pats peak Photo: PATS PEAK/Rob Bossi

Wachusett Mountain - Princeton, MA 

The closest real vertical to Boston is at Wachusett Mountain, which serves up 1,000 feet of schussing and is easy to get to from the city—it’s just an hour’s drive, or take the Fitchburg Line Train or bus. Its 27 trails served by eight lifts are all geared toward different ability levels, so bring the whole family. Two terrain parks add excitement, including Frannie's Folly progression park for beginning and intermediate riders, as well as southern New England’s largest selection of demo gear. For those looking to carve a few runs after work, its trails—all of which have snowmaking and grooming—are open until 10 p.m., nightly. Bonus: You can take in the Boston skyline from the 2,006-foot summit. Beyond the lift-accessed terrain, there’s other options to tour backcountry trails, cross-country ski, and snowshoe in this dynamic, winter-adventure destination. Best for: leaving the car at home and letting the bus or train handle the ride. 

Pats Peak - Henniker, NH 

Less than a 90-minute drive from Boston (and just a few minutes off Interstate 89), Pats Peak is known for its night skiing. Head there after work for an evening of skiing or riding until 10 p.m., with 100% of the mountain lighted, including its double-diamond terrain. While it only has 770 feet of vertical, go for the snow rather than the steeps; its northern location provides more dependable conditions than many other local resorts. While it has 14 novice trails and three beginner areas, making it popular with families, more advanced skiers should bring their legs for nine glades, eight advanced/expert trails and a longest run that connects three trails across 8,000 feet. It also has a newly enlarged base lodge, huge rental shop, and outdoor dining complete with wind shields. Bonus: The Boston Ski Bus makes two round-trips a day on Saturdays. Best for: early-evening sessions throughout the week. 

Crotched Mountain - Bennington, NH 

An hour and a half away from Boston lies Crotched Mountain, with 1,000 feet of vertical and—get this—night skiing on all 25 of its trails until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, making it a lively hotspot with bonfires, music, and more. If it has livelier nightlife than other resorts, it also has rowdier runs, with a high ratio of expert trails (a third of its trails are rated expert). Ownership by Vail Resorts also means its snowmaking, grooming, and maintenance are first-rate, as well as its three separate terrain parks for riders of all levels (including pros). Bonus: Its forested glades keep powder long after a storm. Best for: skiing and riding revelry with friends on weekend nights.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.