The aptly named Panorama Quad whisks passengers to Gunstock’s summit for a bird’s-eye, beak-gaping view of 21-mile-long Lake Winnipesauke, the Ossipee Range, and the Whites. It’s the ultimate backdrop at a ski area with so many picture-perfect spots that the mountain designates more than a half-dozen official photo opportunities on the trail map. This mountain, located in Gilford, New Hampshire, features 49 trails and eight lifts. It is packed with majestic and picturesque views, plus loads of fun skiing.
Before I headed out on the mountain, I asked Bill Quigley, director of marketing and sales for Gunstock, for his insider tips to Gunstock. He told me that for his first run of the day he rides Panorama to the summit as soon as the mountain opens. “The sun’s coming up over the lake. There are days when you can see the ocean in the distance. You can see Mount Washington glistening—just crystal clear white under blue skies. My favorite first run is Recoil. It’s one of those classic New England trails with great sweeping turns. It’s not the first trail that most people go down, but one of my secrets is to duck in and let it roll; let the legs warm up. Since it’s going to be perfectly groomed, you can make high speed arcing turns and have an absolute blast on the first run in the morning. And every time you turn around it’s got a more spectacular view.”
Bill likes to ski during the noon hour to avoid the lunch crowd. Around 1:30 he stops at the Pistol Pub to refuel. For a healthy option, he’ll order the Black Diamond Salad, mixed greens with dried cranberries, walnuts and blue cheese, topped with shrimp or steak tips. If it’s a cold winter day and he needs something hardier to refuel, he gets a bowl of chili—made from scratch on property—and washes it down with a beer. My response: Yum!
There are other lunch options too, including a heated outdoor experience at the Stockade Lodge.
Gunstock stays open till 10 pm on Fridays and Saturday, 9 pm on Tuesdays through Thursdays. “So it does not matter what time you wake up. You can probably ski a ten hour day if you want. Usually your legs give out before you lift ticket does.”
I wasn’t planning on skiing 10 hours, but Bill certainly enticed me to visit. And after skiing Gunstock, I officially named two trails to the top of my list.
BEST MAJESTIC AND MAGICAL RUN: BLUE SQUARE
Gunstock’s Zip Tour is the longest one in the continental United States and offers some of the best views of the area. Instead of a zip, take a majestic and magical ski from the peak, and follow Gunsmoke for a twisty-turny trail with its unrivaled on-snow vantage point of the Lakes Region. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to ski this trail in one big gulp without stopping, so that you can enjoy the dancer-like rhythmic flow all the way to the bottom.
BEST POWDER STASHES: DOUBLE BLACK
For fresh powder stashes in the glades, pop into the tight entrance on skiers’ left to Recoil Glades by following Upper Recoil from the peak. The trail is protected from the wind, but the deciduous trees minus their canopy of leaves in the winter let the snow accumulate.
Now you have Bill’s take and mine on Gunstock. If you get a chance, drop me a line and tell me about yours!