Wachusett means “mountain place” in Algonquin, and there’s really no better descriptor for this ever-accessible New England adventure hub. Dominated by the soaring, 2,000-foot summit of Mount Wachusett, Wachusett Mountain State Reservation was established with mountain sports in mind. Located on the ancestral homeland of the Nipmuc people, this swath of protected land covers about 3,000 acres of rugged trail, forested glades, and glassy ponds. Better yet: Its close proximity to Boston makes it an ideal weekend getaway for a slew of outdoor activities all winter long.
Wachusett Mountain State Reservation is one of the few places in Massachusetts where you can ski lift-accessed terrain, skin backcountry trails, cross-country ski, and snowshoe all in the same place. (Snowmobiles are prohibited here, but they are allowed at nearby Leominster State Forest.)
Downhill skiing and snowboarding
With eight chairlifts and runs that span up to 1,000 vertical feet, Wachusett Mountain is a treasured local hill and the most accessible ski area in Massachusetts. If you want to take advantage of the lift-serviced terrain, you can purchase tickets and rent skis, boards, helmets, and other gear right on the mountain.
If you have your own backcountry gear, you can save money (and get in some extra cardio) by purchasing an uphill pass. Wachusett Mountain usually opens three routes for uphill access before and after its regular opening hours.
Snowshoeing and winter hiking
With over 17 miles of hiking trails available year-round—and way fewer crowds than in summer—Wachusett Mountain State Park is a perfect spot for a winter hike.
To tag an obvious classic, consider a winter climb of Mount Wachusett. On a clear day, the summit affords views of New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock as well as the Boston city skyline. Be sure to bring some kind of underfoot traction, like Yaktrax, when there’s an inch or two of snow on the ground, and snowshoes when there’s much more than that. (Be sure to check the snow forecast before you go.)
Backcountry and cross-country skiing
When the snowpack is deep enough, Mount Wachusett makes a great spot for backcountry and classic cross-country skiing. The terrain here is pretty hilly, so be prepared to do some climbing. (For mellower terrain and a mix of both hiking trails and forest service roads, check out Leominster State Forest.)
For a steeper trek to the Mount Wachusett summit, try the Pine Hill Trail (climbing skins recommended). For a wider trail with a more gentle grade, ski Administration Road to Summit Road.