Your Guide to Winter Adventure on Wachusett Mountain

Photo: ROxBo

Hike, ski, and snowshoe just an hour and a half from Boston.

Wachusett means “mountain place” in Algonquin, and there’s really no better descriptor for this ever-accessible New England adventure hub. Dominated by the soaring, 2,000-foot summit of Mount Wachusett, Wachusett Mountain State Reservation was established with mountain sports in mind. Located on the ancestral homeland of the Nipmuc people, this swath of protected land covers about 3,000 acres of rugged trail, forested glades, and glassy ponds. Better yet: Its close proximity to Boston makes it an ideal weekend getaway for a slew of outdoor activities all winter long. 

Winter Adventures

Wachusett Mountain State Reservation is one of the few places in Massachusetts where you can ski lift-accessed terrain, skin backcountry trails, cross-country ski, and snowshoe all in the same place. (Snowmobiles are prohibited here, but they are allowed at nearby Leominster State Forest.)

Downhill skiing and snowboarding 

With eight chairlifts and runs that span up to 1,000 vertical feet, Wachusett Mountain is a treasured local hill and the most accessible ski area in Massachusetts. If you want to take advantage of the lift-serviced terrain, you can purchase tickets and rent skis, boards, helmets, and other gear right on the mountain. 

If you have your own backcountry gear, you can save money (and get in some extra cardio) by purchasing an uphill pass. Wachusett Mountain usually opens three routes for uphill access before and after its regular opening hours.  

Snowshoeing and winter hiking

With over 17 miles of hiking trails available year-round—and way fewer crowds than in summer—Wachusett Mountain State Park is a perfect spot for a winter hike. 

To tag an obvious classic, consider a winter climb of Mount Wachusett. On a clear day, the summit affords views of New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock as well as the Boston city skyline. Be sure to bring some kind of underfoot traction, like Yaktrax, when there’s an inch or two of snow on the ground, and snowshoes when there’s much more than that. (Be sure to check the snow forecast before you go.) 

Backcountry and cross-country skiing

When the snowpack is deep enough, Mount Wachusett makes a great spot for backcountry and classic cross-country skiing. The terrain here is pretty hilly, so be prepared to do some climbing. (For mellower terrain and a mix of both hiking trails and forest service roads, check out Leominster State Forest.)

For a steeper trek to the Mount Wachusett summit, try the Pine Hill Trail (climbing skins recommended). For a wider trail with a more gentle grade, ski Administration Road to Summit Road. 

Getting There

Located just north of Princeton, Mass., Mount Wachusett is about an hour’s drive from Framingham and an hour and a half from downtown Boston. 

Driving

To get there from Boston, take state Route 2 west to Exit 94. Take a left to cross the highway, then link a series of smaller roads, always bearing south, for about 4.5 miles. The parking area for Wachusett Mountain State Reservation will be on your right, just off Mountain Road. 

To get there from Framingham, take MA-9 west from town for about 6.7 miles, then merge onto Interstate 495 going north. After about 5.3 miles, take Exit 65B and follow I-290 toward Worcester. After 5 miles, you’ll take a slight right to gain MA-140, which you’ll take all the way to Wachusett Lake. At the north end of the lake, hang a left onto Park Road. This will turn into Mountain Road just before the parking area appears on your right. 

Public transit

Get to Wachusett from Boston via the Fitchburg Line Train. In most years, the ski area runs a free shuttle service, as well.  

Refresh & Refuel 

Located in a historic house at the southeast corner of the reservation, the Mountainside Bakery and Café serves up fresh coffee, grilled cheese sandwiches, and baked goods. Grab a cup of Joe on your way to the slopes, or pop by for lunch after you’ve had your fill of winter adventure. 

More Info

For trail maps and other info, visit the state reservation website at mass.gov. For downhill ski information and lift tickets, contact the Wachusett Mountain ski area. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.

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