Up To The Minute Trip Report From Roger Lohr, Publisher Of XCSkiResorts.com.
by Roger Lohr, February 27, 2017, originally published in seniorsskiing.com
We excitedly planned a weekend trip to Jackson, N.H., because it is a true Mecca for Nordic skiers. This is the quintessential New England Nordic (XC) skiing experience with a covered bridge, white steepled church, brookside trails, and the accompanying village with all of the trappings.
Many of the trails lead right to the doors of local inns, shops, and restaurants. It’s no wonder that Jackson Ski Touring Foundation has been rated the top cross country ski area in the United States by America’s Best Online and is recognized in numerous polls as a favorite destination.
The Foundation is a non-profit organization chartered to maintain XC ski trails in and about the village of Jackson. There are about 76 landowners that allow trails to cross their property. Country inns are spaced throughout the region, and the base lodge is a golf country club located on the village loop. This full service ski center has its own parking area and houses the ski school, rental equipment, and a retail shop run by Gorham Bike & Ski with XC ski equipment, clothing, and accessories. The center has a fireplace with couches and tables and seating. Snacks and drinks are available in the lodge, too.
The Cocoa Cabin is a warming hut serving hot cocoa on the weekend, located three km from the center on the gentle Ellis River Trail. This is a popular trail often with many cautious yet courteous skiers. Snowshoers can take a rustic narrow marked snowshoe trail from the center to reach the Cocoa Cabin, and this trail avoids the ski trail.
Our accommodations were at the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa, which is set on a hillside overlooking Jackson Village. It has the personal touches of a country inn with the amenities of an upscale modern resort. The inn has a full service spa, restaurant and pub, fitness room, indoor pool, family rooms, spacious suites, and handcrafted cottages. We had breakfast there during our visit and scheduled massages at the Inn’s Aveda Spa for some earned relaxation after skiing. After skiing and some massaging, we dined at the Christmas Farm Inn for a scrumptious dinner and dessert.
The next morning, we skied down to town, stopped by the Jackson Ski Touring Center and heard about the Art Along the Trails exhibit staged on trees behind the lodge near the Jackson covered bridge. The lodge was bustling, and we passed hundreds of skiers and snowshoers along the Jackson trails, who were friendly and saying hello as they passed. The art exhibit featured two local abstract painters in a their works displayed with nature. Instead of a white walled art gallery, in its place were “walls” made from snow, hemlocks, and birch, all places for paintings to hang from, and the beneficiaries were on snowshoes and cross country skis.
During the four-hour show, Art Along the Trails was enjoyed by hundreds of cross country skiers and snowshoers, who were instilled with the energy of culture experiencing the avant-garde gallery in nature that included more than two dozen paintings installed on tree trunks and limbs. Prices of the different paintings (some as big as three-by-four feet) ranged from $125 to $2,900. The exhibit had titles such as “Illuminated Icefalls” and “Cosmic Wash”.
We lunched on soup and salad at the Wildcat Inn Tavern in downtown Jackson and stayed for some live music and libations. The tavern walls display classic ski posters and some antique gear such as snowshoes and a pair of red Jarvinen XC skis. The seats in one of the rooms were built to look like double chairlifts, and there were soccer jerseys from around the world pinned to the ceiling.
We browsed at some local retail establishments in Jackson including Flossie’s General Store & Gift Emporium, which has a potpourri of gifts, candy, and local keepsakes.
The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation maintains 154 km of varied and breathtaking XC ski and snowshoe trails and is about two hours north of Boston. Foundation trails connect with A.M.C. trails in Pinkham Notch and White Mountain National Forest backcountry adventure trails.