Mt Watatic, MA-3-29-2013

Another very well preserved and skiable mountain. The one issue to be aware of with skiing this area today is that the main gate is closed during the winter so you have to traverse or snowshoe in about 1 mile. Another option, which I chose is to go down Mt Watatic Rd and park at end where there is another path that leads to far skiers right trail, about midway up it. It would be a great path to skin up as is a slight incline all the way to the trail. Problem with that option is that there is not a parking lot so you will have to ask homeowners permission to park on side of their driveways.  But nice at the end of the day as you can ski all the way down to your car from the far right trail.

This one was a big surprise to me that it had closed down. It is only about an hour from Boston and for an eastern MA mountain had a pretty good vert of about 600′. Certainly beats Nashoba’s 200 or Ward’s 220′ but fall short of Wachusett’s 1,000′ which can be seen from summit of Watatic. Still surprised with the population of Boston that it could not coexist with Wachusett but apparently competition from Wachusett and Crotched were big contributors in its demise.

After I completed my hike in, which actually drops you off on a road they built to the summit that winds its way back and forth up the ski area, I skied down the last bit of the summit road to the base of the ski area. The base is wide open but no remains of the ski area really exist. The base lodge, ski school shack, even the double chair, are all gone. Just a flat wide open space with trails dropping into it. IMG_0246I hiked up what I thought was cascade but later found out was Little Dipper on my first ski run. The trail is still fairly wide open and clear with a good pitch IMG_0247 That is until you get to about 3/4 of way up where it becomes more like a glade with a good pitch. At the summit, you can still see the footings of the old double chair.IMG_0250 You also have unbelievaable 360 degree views of the surrounding area including a good view of Wachusett off the backside.IMG_0254IMG_0251 My first run down I started skiers left on what I thought was Spruce but found out was probably Wapack. It still had nice spacing and a good pitch but the trail itself was pretty narrow. Again, the snowmobiles did a good job of both keeping the growth low and packing the snow down. IMG_0256 After I popped the skiis off at the bottom and put the snowshoes back on, i hiked up what i found out was the cascade trail. The cascade trail is hard to determine because according to the trail map it is a big wide open slope and is certainly not in that shape anymore. It is confusing because it now almost looks like two separate trails from the base as pines have grown in the middle of the trail splitting it in two. I realized it had to be the cascade trail because you could see the t-bar line to your right as you were hiking up, which was in surprisingly great shape and pretty much fully intact.IMG_0258 As I followed cascade up you could see glimpses of where the chairlift line would have been following the t-bar to the top. This was very grown in spots and would not have been skiable top to bottom.IMG_0262 Really hard to believe a chairlift passed through at some point and goes to show how much snowmobiles really help keep the growth out of the old trails that are still skiable. When you get to about 3/4 of way up(right before it gets really steep at the top), the auto road appears and is completely clear. Would actually be a great, wide open blue cruiser top to bottom.IMG_0263 After crossing over the auto road I continued up the steep part of the cascades trail. Everything above the auto road would be pretty close to an expert pitch and are now basically all glades. When I reached the top of the old cascades trail I decided to take a run down Spruce. A pretty cool run that follows the outskirts of the mountain. It is still very skiable but relatively narrow in mosts spots. IMG_0267 When I reached the bottom I again popped the skis off and put the snowshoes back on. Walked back up the old spruce trail and decided to take a run down the upper portion of the cascades trail. By this point, my legs were starting to feel like jello and the snow had gotten pretty thick and heavy so after a couple turns I hit a thick spot and took a nice header straight into the snow. Made even better by the fact that I was still wearing a t-shirt. IMG_0268When I got back to the auto road, I popped the skiis off one last time and boot packed it back to the top for one final long decent all the way back to the car. Based off the previous run I thought it best to give my legs a little bit of a break at the top.IMG_0269 This was the run I was looking forward to all day and it did not dissapoint. On my first hike up on little dipper(the section of it above the auto road), I had noticed an absolutely prefect looking glade trail off to my right that I believe was the old big dipper trail. My camera died by this point(also a reason this was my last run) so I unfortunately was not able to get a shot with it but it had looked as though somebody must have gone in there recently to clean out the shrubs cause it was nothing but a prefectly spaced, well packed and covered glade trail. When I completed that section it dropped me out right on the auto road and coasted all the way down to my car. Probably the most skiable area I have visited thus far.

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