Unexpected Adventures: Green Woodlands, Dorchester, NH
If you hear a ski venue described as rugged, or wild, or remote, you probably envision the precipitous slopes and snowcapped peaks of the Rockies, or perhaps an expanse of arctic tundra fit for an Iditarod. You would probably not, however, think of a quiet collection of relatively flat cross country ski trails that loop through the forests just twenty miles east of Hanover, New Hampshire. And yet, skiing on the trails at Green Woodlands—which sits on a sizeable swath of preserved land between Hanover and Plymouth—it is easy to feel that civilization is a world away, and that nothing but miles and miles of snow-blanketed fields and ice-crusted trees lay before you.
In a sense, this is true. The cross country trails (which partially overlap with the mountain bike and equestrian trails open in the summer months) add up to over 30 miles of potential adventure, while the terrain is so varied that each mile contains within it miles worth of sights and scenery. Even the drive in to the Woodlands’ parking area sets the stage for a surprisingly remote and wild adventure: from Hanover you venture, turn by turn, deeper into the backcountry, past frozen lakes and boarded-up cottages, until the only sign of civilization is the narrow dirt road itself. There’s no main lodge or ski shop—just a board with a map and information. Trail access is free (though donations are appreciated). There’s no cell service to be had, so it is wise to ski with a buddy.
Now, the Woodlands may be remote, but it’s not desolate. The wide, immaculately groomed trails, were designed by Dartmouth ski legend John Morton of Morton Trails, to World Cup specs, and draw visitors from all over New England. This makes for a nice spirit of camaraderie in the parking lot, where skiers swap trail reports and route tips. Warming huts and map boards are scattered generously throughout the trail network, such that you get all the adventure of rugged wilderness, without many of the risks. Or, if that’s too cushy, you can maximize the adventure: avoid seeing any bit of terrain twice by skiing point-to-point from the Dorchester Rd parking lot to the Rt 118 trailhead.
However you plan your trip to Green Woodlands, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy all this hidden New Hampshire gem has to offer. This will almost certainly include a stop in Hanover either for a morning coffee and a pastry at the Dirt Cowboy Café, or perhaps an après ski beer-and-burrito (go to the tried-and-true pub Molly’s for the beer, and next door to Boloco for the burrito). Happy trails!