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Basecamp: Cardigan Lodge
  1. Snowshoe above treeline and summit Mt. Cardigan
  2. Skip the lift lines: classic backcountry ski and snowboard tours of Mt. Cardigan and Firescrew
  3. Down-mountain ski tour of Mt. Cardigan
  4. Cross-country ski and snowshoe loop tours
  5. Stay overnight near the summit of Mt. Cardigan at High Cabin
  6. Winter Family Adventure Camp: spend February school vacation week at Cardigan
  7. Ski & Stay: Ragged Mountain

Just a two-hour drive from Boston, Cardigan Lodge is a historic AMC ski lodge located at the base of Mt. Cardigan in New Hampshire's Lakes Region—with doorstep access to snowshoe hikes in the lower valleys and near the summit of Mt. Cardigan, plus cross-country ski and down-mountain backcountry tours. For additional ideas, check out AMC's Winter Guide.

Cardigan Lodge in winter. Photo: Tom Fisher1. Snowshoe above treeline and summit Mt. Cardigan

Before breaking out your skis, dust off your snowshoes and get the lay of the land (not to mention some great exercise) by exploring Mt. Cardigan and Firescrew above treeline. This is also a great way for less experienced backcountry skiers not to miss out on breathtaking views from the bald summit of Mt. Cardigan. As you scan the horizon in different directions, you’ll see Mt. Monadnock, Mt. Washington, and Lake Winnipesaukee, in addition to some of New Hampshire’s other mountainous landmarks.

2. Skip the lift lines: classic backcountry ski and snowboard tours of Mt. Cardigan and Firescrew
Down-mountain, backcountry runs are where Mt. Cardigan and Firescrew have gotten their reputation, making Cardigan Lodge a wonderland for experienced skiers seeking historic runs. Pick your pleasure – it is approximately three miles from Cardigan Lodge to the summit of Mt. Cardigan via the Duke’s Ski Trail (the first ski trail cut by the AMC), and only about 2.5 miles via the Alexandria and Kimball Ski Trails.

Both the Alexandria Ski Trail and the Duke’s Ski Trail run down the east side of the Firescrew-Mt. Cardigan summit ridge. Make your descent on one of these trails, or take the Kimball Ski Trail.

3. Down-mountain ski tour of Mt. Cardigan
Embark on a longer, 5.5-mile ski tour that hits a number of trails on the ascent and descent. Start out by going up either the Duke’s or Alexandria Ski Trails, then cross the Cardigan-Firescrew ridge on the Mowglis Trail and ski down on the opposite trail.

4. Cross-country ski and snowshoe loop tours
Take the snowshoes out for a spin. Start out heading up the Manning Trail to the Holt Trail for a popular loop tour, then continue to the Vistamont Trail before circling back to the lodge via the Clark to Woodland Trails. It's about 3.8 miles and 1,000 ft. of elevation gain, mostly through big open beech woods with lots of afternoon sun.

Prefer to cross country ski instead? A loop trip that's on the moderate side travels down the Lower Manning Trail to the 93Z Ski Trail. Then, dropping out into an open meadow after hooking up with the Duke's Ski Trail, continue on the Manning Trail back to the lodge. It's about four miles.

Duke’s Pasture near the lodge is a good place for less experienced skiers and families to practice new techniques.

5. Stay overnight near the summit of Mt. Cardigan at High Cabin
Gather a group of friends and stay overnight near Mt. Cardigan's summit at AMC’s High Cabin. For over 70 years, High Cabin has offered a rustic, year-round retreat on Mt. Cardigan for groups in search of a unique backcountry trip. High Cabin’s self-service accommodations include one common room with a woodstove and 12 bunks, as well as a kitchen space with a propane camp stove.

6. Winter Family Adventure Camp: spend February school vacation week at Cardigan
This President's Day school vacation week, take the family to Cardigan Lodge for Winter Family Adventure Camp and sample a mix of snow sports, including guided snowshoe hikes, sledding, and ice-skating, plus skill-building activities such as snow shelter building and animal tracking. The Adventure Camp offers the convenience of full-service with meals, instruction, guiding, and use of snowshoes, along with doorstep access to miles of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails.

7. Ski & Stay: Ragged Mountain
Mix things up and take advantage of AMC's downhill Ski & Stay package with Ragged Mountain this winter. Ski 45 trails on 220 acres, just 14 miles from Cardigan Lodge.