Whaleback Mountain is located right on Interstate 89 near the community of Enfield, New Hampshire, approximately a 2.5 hour drive from Sherbrooke, and just over 3 hours from Montréal. The mountain offers 30 trails and glades of different levels of ability, served by 4 lifts, which include a double chair, T-bar, and magic carpet lift, and a handle tow. The trails here are named in a whale and sea theme, such as the Dorsal, Flipper, Davey Jones' Locker, and Jonah's Revenge just to name a few.
Snowmaking covers 12 of the 30 trails and night skiing is offered on those same 12 trails. Operating hours at Whaleback are Tuesday and Wednesdays from 2-8 pm, Thursday and Fridays from 1-8 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 9-4, closed Mondays unless there is a holiday, or during a holiday week. There is a full-service chalet along with a pub. The hill offers an after-school program for the local kids, and they offer private and semi-private lessons through the ski shop. Rentals can be booked through the shop as well. They have an uphill skiing and riding policy here at Whaleback and one must check in at the chalet or with the patrol to find out if uphill travel is permitted on that day. When uphill travel is permitted you must obtain a free pass prior to accessing the facility. There is no charge, but a tax-free donation to support their non-profit organization is appreciated. Whaleback is owned and operated by the non-profit Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation (UVSSF).
The Mountain and the Ski Trails
There is a good variety of trails and glades for the beginner up to the expert. Whaleback has 8 beginner trails, 11 intermediate, 6 single black diamond, and 5 double black diamond trails with a 700 foot vertical. The learning area is served by the magic carpet and handle tow for beginners. The T-bar serves some beginner and intermediate slopes, and the double chair will bring you to the summit to access a nice variety of trails. There are some nice cruiser trails such as the Spout, which is an intermediate/beginner trail, the Bougainvillea, another intermediate, both with snowmaking, and the Upper and Lower Ivory trails, with natural snow alone on the upper section, and snowmaking on the lower section. If you are looking for more difficult terrain, the Upper Face has some bumps, while the Blowhole and the Jawbone should suit your needs with some steeps. The glades on the mountain, The Barnacles, Kracken, and the Y.O.O.Y.M are rated at a single and double black diamond level, great for those who like to ski the trees and who seek a challenge. The ski patrol is stationed at the top and bottom of the mountain for quick assistance. In the chalet, there is plenty of room to sit and take a break or to have lunch from their food service area. Upstairs is where you will find the pub for an après ski beverage, and rental shop is located in a separate building beside the chalet.
What is unique with Whaleback is that they are owned and operated by the UVSSF, the Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation, a registered non-profit organization. Their mission is to provide affordable skiing to area residents. The key to the long-term success of the UVSSF and Whaleback relies on fundraising so that they can maintain and make improvements to their area. The access to the area is very easy. Whaleback being situated right by the highway gives the mountain great visual exposure. You can't miss it while driving by.
Why visit ?
If you are looking for a change of pace from the larger, more expensive crowded resorts to a calmer, relaxed smaller ski area with small lift lines, Whaleback is the place to go. While there, you will be contributing to the success of a group that has the vision to keep this area alive, and for them to keep offering affordable skiing to the local community for years to come.