February 2, 2020
Day 15
Skiers: Carla

I am officially at the half way point for the NH Talls & Smalls ski adventure! Today I visited another small for #15. Abenaki Ski Area is a community owned and operated ski area in Wolfeboro. Abenaki is the oldest small ski area in America, as well as one of the 10 oldest ski areas in the country overall. The first trails on Poor Farm Hill were cut and used during the winter of 1936 by the newly-formed Abenaki Outing Club. A rope tow and lodge complete with stone fireplace was built in 1940. The ski area is currently operated by the Wolfeboro Parks & Recreation Department, with volunteer support and fundraising provided by the Friends of Abenaki.
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Illustrated history of Abenaki Ski Area. This is a large sign approximately 6 feet in length inside the lodge near the rental area.

Tim accompanied me on the trip to Abenaki but elected not to ski today. Tickets are very affordable, $8 for residents and $20 for non-residents. Rentals are available for a mere $15. Skies were overcast with temps in the mid 30’s. Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today, and an early spring is predicted. Sadly, this does not fare well for spring skiing. This season has already brought less than favorable conditions not just in NH, but pretty much wide spread throughout New England. Considering today is Superbowl Sunday less than favorable conditions could refer to both snow and football.
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New base lodge constructed for the 2015-2016 season. Look at the beautifully carved pillars flanking the entryway.

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Trail map

Snow surface was beautifully groomed corduroy that skied firm and slick. Glades were not open due to lack of natural snow cover, but the groomed trails were impressive. Abenaki has snowmaking coverage on the main trail, and can manually move lines over to cover the peripheral trails. There are seven trails in total and two rope tows. Newest trail Twister debuted last season. The main rope tow is FAST, providing a long and gradual ride. In comparison to the ropes at the Kanc & Red Hill that were steep and difficult to hold onto, I rode the rope at Abenaki at least 30 times. I did not ride the smaller rope that serves the beginner hill.
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Standing on Peter’s Pride, looking downhill towards the junction of Freeway (blue) and Headwall (black).

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Looking downhill from Twister

I met many friendly volunteers throughout the day and learned a lot about the Friends of Abenaki. This group formed in 2005 with a mission to save this little hill. Due to budgeting concerns and low attendance, Abenaki was in danger of closing. The Friends have successfully raised funds to install snowmaking, purchase a groomer, and to build a gorgeous traditional log cabin style lodge. Current fundraising efforts are geared towards expanding snowmaking to cover Twister. Lift attendants Joe and Jake knew everyone by name, including me after a few runs. I was surprised when Joe asked me for details about the Kanc and how it compared to Abenaki. He grew up skiing at Abenaki but is interested in exploring other little ski areas. This made me so happy, it was pretty cool to be able to share this information- totally makes me feel like I can pay it forward. These smalls are truly growing on me and I know I need to keep visiting going forward as the local ski culture feeds my soul.
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Behind the rope tow building, upper hill. Snow gun & terrain jump in background.

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Left to right: Beginners area with small rope tow (orange netting) maintenance shed (brown building with double doors), rope tow hut (in foreground of maintenance building), ice arena (tan building), Abenaki lodge.

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Looking uphill from the lodge area. Rope tow to the right.

Overall impression: Abenaki is a sweet little ski area with a loyal following in the local community. Affordable and family friendly where everyone knows your name. A nice variety of trails and a super-fast rope tow that allows for endless laps in a short amount of time. Abenaki is steeped in history - this is the birthplace of NH skiing that set a precedent across the nation. If you have not skied here before, it just may be the next place you need to try!

Snowy Wishes,
Carla Frontfive

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Vintage posting: Afternoon & night skiing 50¢, weekends 75¢- $1.50

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Inside the lodge, there was a sizable crowd. Stone fireplace to the left.

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Yes, admittedly I fell off the rope tow. My poles started to slip and as I was trying to adjust them, I lost sight of my skis and fell awkwardly facing uphill…. when Tim snapped the picture, I had righted myself and was about to stand. He missed the money shot!