Peak Pursuits: Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling, and Beyond in the Sugar River Region

Top of Mount Sunapee in the Winter. Image Credit: Sullivan County Government.

Peak Pursuits: Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling, and Beyond in the Sugar River Region

Written by Madeline Ferland on January 11, 2024. 

In the winter expanse of the Sugar River Region, snow and winter sports opportunities are endless. Mount Sunapee stands as a popular destination for skiing, boasting slopes suitable for all skill levels. Arrowhead, once a small ski hill and tubing spot, provides a nostalgic experience for those seeking traditional winter pastimes and is still renowned for the multi-use trails. The extensive network of snowmobiling trails crisscrossing the county not only offers thrilling rides but also serves connections to the broader state and beyond. The abundance of and opportunity for snow sports activities play a significant role in shaping our regional winter  identity.

Top of Arrowhead View at Night, Claremont. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland.

Arrowhead in the Winter, Claremont. Image Credit: Sherry Pardy.

In the initial years after having moved to the Sugar River Region, my family consistently held a season pass for Ragged Mountain, a small ski resort in Danbury, NH. We really enjoyed Ragged, although it could sometimes be a bit of a hike to get there. Since Vail Resorts only acquired Okemo and Sunapee in 2018, my skiing adventures were primarily located at Ragged, thanks to the convenience of the season pass. Even though my high school budget limited my visits to Sunapee, the times I did go were always thrillingly enjoyable.

During the winter of 2019, my dad surprised my siblings and me with an amazing Christmas gift – the Epic Pass! This pass has opened up a world of possibilities with various ski mountains to choose from. I’ve now visited Sunapee numerous times. While there are a few downsides to  Sunapee, such as an influx of out-of-state visitors and conditions sometimes lacking real powder, leading to icy trails, I still find it a fantastic mountain. Unfortunately, East Coast skiing is often referred to, somewhat lovingly and somewhat sarcastically,  as the Ice Coast due to insufficient snowfall and consistently icy conditions, so this often leads to limited access to glades and crossover paths. Yet this is a shared challenge across New England ski culture, and despite these conditions, the joy of hitting the slopes persists.

Oddly enough, I used to think that Okemo was much farther away than Sunapee. However, I’ve recently discovered that both mountains are just a 30-minute drive from my home. There was really no reason for me to have overlooked Okemo for so long. Finally, in December of 2023, I had the opportunity to experience the slopes of Okemo for the first time!

Mount Sunapee Resort

Mount Sunapee is a smaller-scale ski resort and yet is nonetheless quite an exciting experience. There are four main lifts on the larger mountain and then a smaller lift and three magic carpets at the South Peak Learning Area. When snow conditions are adequate and all the major lifts are open, Sunapee is an absolute treat to ski and explore. My favorite runs are Upper Ridge (blue) leading into Lower Ridge (green), Upper Blast-Off (black diamond) leading into Lower Blast-Off (blue), Stovepipe (blue, the entirety of the Wingding trail (Upper, Middle, and Lower, all blue), and of course the Flying Goose (Upper is a black diamond leading into a blue).

Mount Sunapee Winter Trail Map. Image Credit: Vail Resorts.

These trails are all accessed by the Sunapee Express lift (which is the main line), the Sunbowl Express, and the Northpeak Triple. All three of these lifts grant you access to the majority of the mountain’s trails. Sunapee is a fantastic mountain for skiers and snowboarders who prefer the difficulty level that blues often provide – some steepness here and there, the occasional tracks of moguls, and both wide and narrow paths.

View from Top of Mount Sunapee. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland.

Posing with my Snowboard in the Mount Sunapee Parking Lot. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland

Okemo Mountain Resort

This past December was the first time in my life I’d ever been to Okemo Resort, and I cannot believe I hadn’t gone before! Okemo is a little larger in size than Sunapee and offers a tremendous skiing experience as well. There are quite a few lifts, with the longest being the Sunburst Six, Sachem Quad, Solitude Express Quad, the Southface Express Quad, and the Quantum Six on the Jackson Gore Peak. Unfortunately, many of the trails were closed due to lack of snowfall, so I couldn’t explore nearly as much as I wanted to and we had to stick to the Sunburst Six and Glades Peak Quad.

Okemo Winter Trail Map. Image Credit: Vail Resorts.

I also went with friends and since they had been there many times before, I let them pick and choose which trails to go down. We frequented Jolly Green Giant (blue), Countdown (blue), Fall Line (blue), Upper (black) and Lower Chief (blue), and a portion of Searle’s Way that was through the glades (black). Despite the conditions and occasional icy patches, I had a blast at Okemo and definitely recommend anyone in and around the Sugar River Region to ski the mountain themselves. 

Posing on Searle’s Way on Okemo. Image Credit: Sebastian Karas.

Snowy Chairlift. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland.


When it comes to snowmobiling, I’d say it’s probably one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. My family owns a couple sleds and every winter that permits, we’ll go on a couple day-long excursions. Every time I go, I swear the adrenaline rush doesn’t subside!

Fitch Reservoir Trail at Dusk. Image Credit: Derek Ferland.

Sullivan County has some really awesome and underrated trails, especially perfect for one or two day excursions if you don’t have the time to go up north for longer trips. Check out the Sugar River Region Trails Plan website that has an interactive and informational trail map to see what all our region offers! 

Snowmobiling in Claremont. Image Credit: Elizabeth Dragon.

Wright’s Covered Bridge on Snowmobiles, Newport. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland.

Just to name a few of my favorite snowmobile trails and activities: 

  • Chapin Pond when it’s frozen over… zooming from one end of the pond to the other is so much fun!
  • Fitch Reservoir Trail can be spooky at night time, but has some fantastic views.
  • Top of Arrowhead is another phenomenal view at either daytime or nighttime.
  • And of course the Newport – Claremont Rail Trail, a 9.7-mile path that takes you through both Wright’s and the Pier Historic Covered Bridges (check out this blog on the region’s 10 Historic Covered Bridges driving tour!) 

Wright’s Covered Bridge, Newport. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland.

What are your favorite Sugar River Region trails, whether just for snowmobiling or year-round excursions? Let us know! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook!