February 1, 2020
Day 14
Skiers: Carla & Tim

Today we visited Tenney Mountain in Plymouth NH for our Talls & Smalls Adventure. Tenney is easily accessible by Rt 93, exit 26 to the Tenney Mountain Highway. Weather was overcast and cloudy, mid 30’s and non-windy. We encountered a few light scattered snow showers en-route, but this snow did not accumulate.

The snow report Tenney posted for the day described conditions as “6 out of 10 snow covered with some natural obstructions here and there. Conditions are not recommended for beginners. Rock skis are recommended for folks that venture off groomed trails. 40 trails open”. Tim and I are hardy NH skiers, this just made us more excited to explore!

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Tenney base lodge, Hornet Double to the left

We arrived at Tenney at 9am and proceeded to the “Witches Hat” to purchase our tickets. We paid $49 each with discount from using our Ride & Ski cards that support CHaD. We entered the lodge at the base level and encountered friendly staff welcoming us for the day.

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The Witches Hat ticket booth

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Trail map, we honestly covered every trail that was open that we could access. I still can’t identify which trails those were…It’s a hodgepodge of merges and crossover, very similar to navigating Boston!

The only lift running today was the Hornet Double, a lengthy 6,200ft chair that climbs 1400 in vertical. Notably this is the oldest operating chairlift in New Hampshire. While the chair is not high speed, it is functional, and I found the time taking in the scenery enjoyable. We started our morning on skiers left and skied blues Shooting Star and Edelweiss. The trail map is a maze… I seriously couldn’t keep track of every little twist and offshoot that we explored. We joked that the terrain was like Frogger, as we kept jumping around from trail to trail, but also jumped around each trail to ski the areas with best snow cover. Our favorites: blacks Sweet William & Sunflower.

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Hornet Double Chairlift, trail to the left Rollercoaster as it merges with Hornet liftline. Note the new growth of saplings along the trail edge stemming from years of the lift being non-operational.

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Sweet William, narrow cut & tree lined

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Selfie on Sunflower

We took a midmorning break inside and did some exploration of the upper level of the lodge. The second level is expansive, with plentiful seating, a gorgeous stone fireplace, cafeteria, and bar seating area.

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Walkway to the lodge from trailside of Edelweiss. Loading area of the Hornet Double to the right

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View of seating & fireplace on upper lodge level

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Vintage chair, skis, and boards

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Lower level of lodge: bathrooms and information station located here

We then explored skiers right blues Morning Glory, Rollercoaster, into lower Edelweiss, and blacks Snapdragon, and Hornet under the lift line. Black Forget Me Not was closed, but was accessible via Culmination which was a narrow trail that appeared to go into the glades. Tim discovered this by accident, and let’s say I was getting close to alerting ski patrol when he didn’t emerge for quite some time. Apparently, he sunk through the top layer of crusted snow, and surprisingly found the terrain was a mixture of deep snow pockets and bare rock exposed ground. He popped out onto the lower portion of Forget Me Not and then back into Snapdragon. We definitely need to ski this when there is enough cover!

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View of the white mountains looking north from the top of Morning Glory

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Side view of the lodge as seen from the bottom of Half Moon

Skiing on Tenney Mountain began in the 1930’s when the Plymouth Ski Club cut the Edelweiss Trail along an old logging road, and guests flocked to the region on the snow trains from Boston. It was developed into a fully operational ski area in 1960.

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Original porcelain trail sign circa 1960’s! We discovered this not at the mountain but hanging on the entryway wall of a local pub in Plymouth called The Last Chair. I was so impressed with my lunch and the ski vibe atmosphere that I will be writing a special bonus article dedicated to this establishment. Best beer & burger I have EVER eaten!

Tenney is one of the original Ski 93 mountains; a marketing campaign from the 1960’s that enticed skiers from the south to travel north to the white mountains of NH. Ski 93 also included Waterville Valley, Loon, Cannon, and Mittersill (at the time a separate ski area from Cannon). Tenney encounter multiple changes in ownership over the years. With a series of closing and re-openings from the mid 1990’s to mid 2000’s, including a brief name change to Lookout Mountain. Tenney was permanently closed from 2010-2018. Additional changes not related to the ski area, but to the mountain itself was the installation of a wind farm along the ridge in 2012. The turbines can be viewed from Rt 93; heading north look towards your left just before exit 26.

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Skies were overcast, but if you look closely you can see turbines from the Groton Wind Farm that are located along the ridge from Tenney Mountain to Fletcher Mountain.

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Close up view of a wind turbine along the ridge

The current ownership has revived Tenney, replacing burst piping, renovating the lodge, and clearing back new growth that filtrated the trails and lift lines. They had a soft opening in March of 2018, and operated quietly with natural snow during the 2018-2019 season. Tenney started off 2020 with mass advertising, promotions, and an eagerness to welcome skiers to back their mountain. Even with a lack of natural snowfall, the spirit is alive and the community is rallying for Tenney to embrace full operations and be successful.

Overall impression: I am so happy that Tenney is open and really look forward to seeing it grow over the next few years. The people we encountered were friendly, loyal to the mountain, and passionate for it to succeed. They are true at heart skiers, who are willing to ride the lift a little longer, appreciate the terrain as nature intended, and just enjoy living in the moment vs. waiting at home for that one epic ski day. The terrain is like a scavenger hunt, with true New England style cut trails that are narrow and twisty. A perfect location for a game of hide-n-seek! Surface elevations vary along the narrow cuts making a run down skiers left completely different from a run down skiers right. In NH we commonly refer to Cannon and Wildcat as "skiers mountains", Tenney absolutely falls in that same category and is a must have visit for any true NH skier. I thoroughly enjoyed my day and can’t wait to visit again after some prime snowfall. A little shout out to baby Lena and her daddy; you are one lucky little lady and I think its pretty special that a new generation will get to experience the re-birth of Tenney!

Snowy Wishes,
Carla Frontfive