CONWAY — It’s always the sweetest weekend on skis and one that chocolate-loving cross-country skiers and snowshoers look forward to all season long.
The Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring and Snowshoe Center presents its 31st annual Chocolate Festival at participating stops on Sunday, Feb. 23, from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m., with a complementary shuttle operating from noon-5 p.m.
Trailside stops include the Whitaker Woods Meeting House — a hub of activity where many skiers start and where you can pick up chocolate provided by Mckaella’s Sweet Shop and Veno’s Specialty Foods & Meats with the helping hands of Kennett High School students — as well as the 1785 Inn; Adventure Suites; Eastern Inns; Stonehurst Manor; the Starlight Lodge; Old Field House; Riverside Inn B&B; Tuckerman’s Tavern at New England Inn; the Touring Center at Ragged Mountain Equipment; and Sugar Shack at the 100-Acre Wood on Route 16 in Intervale.
Not to be missed is Samuel O’Reilly House, the newest lodging member on the tour located on Route 16 just minutes from Whitaker Woods. Also a little off the beaten path for the ski tour, but well worth a visit is Buttonwood Inn on Mt. Surprise Road — winner of bedandbreakfast.com’s Best Food Award for 2009 (Travel Hurricane Mountain Road for a short distance off Route 16 then turn left at the sign to the Buttonwood Inn.) Both stops will be open from 1-5 p.m.
Tickets are $35 the day of the event. The event serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring Association. For more information, call (603) 356-9920 or go to mwvskitouring.org.
NOTE: Coinciding with the event is the Kennett High Key Club’s 22nd annual Silent Auction for Charity, to be held at the 1785 Inn Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., offering all sorts of great items donated by local businesses.
FIREWORKS: Another highlight of the weekend? Fireworks tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Cranmore (see below).
BIG WEEK — SO FAR: All local ski areas and touring centers are rejoicing about the extended streak of great weather and excellent snow conditions this first of two February vacation weeks, especially following this past Tuesday’s snow storm.
Not sure if you saw it, but the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation dedicated two trails on Feb. 8 to former longtime executive director Thom Perkins and trail supporter Bengt Karlsson. Approximately 40 people attended the trail dedication ceremony.
Bear Notch Ski Touring also was especially busy last weekend, and doing all right during the week, although Tuesday’s snowstorm did affect business somewhat, according to Doug Garland.
Laid back and dog friendly, Bear Notch has 65k open, and grooming on 50k.
“People can ski past Attitash Mountain Village to the Fields at Attitash,” said Doug on Thursday. “We’re expecting a great weekend, so c’mon up!”
John Lowell of the twin Vail Resorts peaks of Attitash Bear Peak and Wildcat said that other than Wednesday’s high winds which forced a closure of the summit lifts at Attitash and Wildcat, business has been exceptional.
“The snow is incredible, with wall-to-wall packed powder,” said Lowell.
Cranmore’s Marketing Director Becca Deschenes said business was matching the great conditions, with all 56 trails open.
“We’ve been rocking with 100 percent of our terrain open,” said Deschenes Thursday.
Conditions as of Friday:
• ATTITASH MOUNTAIN (603-374-2368; attitash.com): All 68 trails, all three terrain parks, 319 acres of skiable terrain, eight of nine lifts running. Events: Feb. 22: Abenaki Parks Big Air. Feb. 23: Winterstick Free Demo Day. March 7: Ability Plus Springfest.
Apres ski Den Sessions at Bear Peak: Feb. 22: Mitch Alden. For Ptarmigan’s: Feb. 22, Best Not Broken.
• BLACK MOUNTAIN (603-383-4490; blackmt.com): 35 trails, three lifts running. Friday Night Lights Uphill/Downhill Series. Apres ski, Feb. 22: Ride and Ski Promo. Feb. 23: Jonathan Sarty.
• BRETTON WOODS (603-278-3320; brettonwoods.com): All 63 trails, all 35 glades, all 468 acres of skiable terrain, nine of 10 lifts running. Canopy Tour. Night skiing through Feb. 22; Friday and Saturday nights. Apres ski and kids apres ski daily through Feb. 23. Slopeside Lounge: Feb. 22: Sean Patrick McGraw and Feb. 23: The River 92.5 FM.
• CRANMORE MOUNTAIN RESORT (603-356-5543; cranmore.com): 56 of 57 trails, two terrain parks and all eight lifts running. Tubing and Mountain Adventure Park will be open extended hours 9 a.m.-8 p.m. through Feb. 22. Advance reservations are recommended for the tubing park and may be made online in advance. Hours on Sunday are 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. for lifts and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for tubing and rides. N.H. Vacation Week, Feb. 24-28: lifts, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and tubing and rides, 1 p.m.-8 p.m.
Events: Feb. 22: Cranapalooza, featuring fun and games for kids in Schneider Square, 2:30-4:30 p.m. Live music in Zip’s Pub sponsored by Tuckerman Brewing, daily, through Feb. 22, 4 -7 p.m., Riley Parkhurst Duo Feb. 22. Feb. 22: Terrain Park Throwdown, freestyle competition for all ages and abilities. Feb. 22: Fireworks, 6:30 p.m.
• KING PINE SKI AREA (603-367-8896; kingpine.com): All 17 trails, one terrain park, five of six lifts running, Tohko Dome Skating. Night skiing, 4-9 p.m. throughout vacation weeks, Feb. 23-29: Family Fun Week (snowshoe tours, kids fun races, campfires, s’mores, special events and more), including: Feb. 22: King’s Mark Big Air. Apres ski: Trails End Tavern, Feb. 22: The Gravel Project.
• WILDCAT (603-466-3326; skiwildcat.com: All 48 trails, 285 acres of skiable terrain, including 80 acres of glades; all five lifts running. Apres ski, 2-5 p.m. weekends: Feb. 22, 2-5 p.m., Shark Martin. Feb. 28: Rafe Matregrano.
• BEAR NOTCH SKI TOURING (603-374-2277; bearnotchskitouring.com): 65k open for snowshoeing and 50k for skiing. Bartlett Experimental Forest, Western Trail Network, Yates Farm Trail Network, Village Loop to Attitash Mountain Village and the Fields at Attitash now open along with the popular Waterfall Crossing. Riverside skiing. Great dog-friendly skiing and homemade soups and bread in warm-up barn. Rentals and sales.
• BRETTON WOODS NORDIC CENTER (brettonwoods.com; 603-278-3322): 47 of 56 trails (80 of 99.8k open); 80k track set and 80k skate groomed. Lift-serviced skiing open. Nordic Center Grille open 11 a.m.-3 p.m..
• GREAT GLEN TRAILS OUTDOOR CENTER (greatglentrails.com; 603-466-2333): 45k; 20k skate groomed, 20k track set. 45 of snowshoeing. Fatbiking and tubing. SnowCoaches running. Call ahead for availability on SnowCoach. Great Glen Cafe and Outfitters Shop.
• JACKSON SKI TOURING (603-383-9355; jacksonxc.org): 75 of 100k open; 42k track set and 50k groomed. Guided snowshoe tours, Saturdays 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Sundays, 10 a.m.; Tuesdays: Toddlers and Tots, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Hills lessons Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Weekly Friday Gliders. March 1: Jackson Nordic Foodie Fondo: tour the trails and explore village dining establishments while enjoying trailside treats.
• KING PINE/PURITY SPRING RESERVE (603-367-8896; kingpine.com): Snowshoers are welcome to access 20k of skate-groomed trails. Tohko Dome ice skating, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Guided snowshoe tours Saturdays at 2 p.m.
• MWV SKI TOURING AND SNOWSHOE ASSOCIATION (603-356-9920; mwvskitouring.org): All 45k skate groomed and single tracked in Whitaker Woods and Intervale Network. 45k of snowshoe trails. 2k fatbiking in Whitaker Woods. Guided snowshoe walks Saturdays at 1 p.m.; snowshoe yoga Sundays at 10 a.m. Feb. 23: 31st annual Chocolate Festival; $35.
• 100 ACRE WOOD (603-356-9980; believeinbooks.org). All trails open and skate-groomed; single track on four trails. Storybook trail, “Stella, Queen of the Snowe” by Louise Gay. Entertainment at Theater in the Wood, Feb. 22: “Ice Bar: An Evening of Ice and Dancing,” for ages 21 plus; music, food and entertainment; Feb. 29: Chad Hollister Band.