There used to be hundreds of small ski hills scattered across the Northeast. Due to rough winters, the need for snowmaking, and rising insurance costs, not many of them remain.
This past weekend, I made a trip to one of them, which is located in Warner, New Hampshire. Thanks to the snow freezing over the prior two nights, I was able to hike to the top of the former ski hill without much issue. I sadly didn’t get to ski down it, as I don’t have a skinning setup yet, but I do think it would be a fun place to check out for uphill skinning in the future.
Here’s a short history of Warner’s ski hills, which is from the New England Lost Ski Areas Project, a great resource for learning more about the abandoned ski hills in the region.
The first ski hill in Warner opened in the late 1940s, had a 1000-1200 foot rope tow, and had a vertical drop of 250 feet. In retrospect, they didn’t put it in the best location. They had to close the ski hill in the late 1960s due to the construction of I-89. The interstate was built through it, and Warner decided to move their ski hill elsewhere.
The second Warner Ski Area opened on Mink Hill Road in the late 1960s, which is the one that I visited. This one featured a 1000-foot-long rope tow, a vertical drop of around 160 feet, and a base lodge.
Various factors led to its ultimate downfall. With no snowmaking, a lack of snow in the early 1980s led to less visitation. When a replacement rope and a new insurance policy were needed, the town wasn’t keen on spending the money. The added cost of insurance and the need for a replacement rope led them to shut down the mountain during the 1982-83 season.
In spite of being abandoned for forty years, there are still quite of few remnants of the past on the ski hill. Many of the pulleys for the rope tow remain standing.
The top lift shack for the rope tow is in decrepit shape, as the roof has collapsed. The other parts of the rope tow, along with the base lodge, have been removed.
Today, access to the ski hill remains open to the public. It’s part of the Chandler Reservation, which is a large stretch of conservation land in the town. There are a variety of hiking trails there, and people use the old ski hill for snowshoeing and sledding during the wintertime. The ski hill is located on Mink Hill Lane, which is located a couple of minutes away from I-89.
Ultimately, it’s a cool spot to check out for those who want to explore a bit of New England’s ski history.
Image Credits: Ian Wood of Unofficial Networks, Town of Warner