7 Days in New Hampshire: Ice castles, dog sleds and snowmobile jaunts

Day 7: Lincoln’s snowmobile trails

I had no idea that New Hampshire had dogsledding. As in, you can get on a sled and yell “mush,” and get pulled through the snow by a team of sled dogs. How cool is that?

Your new best friends in New Hampshire. Photo: Walknboston/Flickr.

Unfortunately, the folks at Valley Snowdogz were completely booked for the weekend. I was looking forward to playing with some pooches in the snow, and had this notion that I was going to get towed on my snowboard behind a bunch of regal Siberian huskies.

Next time. If there’s one thing I am realizing about this trip to New Hampshire, it’s that there will be a next time.

Dogsledding is a no, but I have other options. I’m in the Lincoln/Woodstock region, which is a great place for plenty of adventure options.

First and foremost, you have Loon Mountain and Cannon Mountain, two of the East Coast’s premiere snow resorts.

Then there are the Ice Castles, amazing crafted wonderland castles, designed from vertical icicles that you can walk, sled and slide through. This is winter creativity at its best, and kids are mesmerized at night when the castles get lit up.

Lincoln’s famed Ice Castles that you can walk, slide and sled through. Photo: Courtesy of VisitNH

Lincoln is also your jump off point to Franconia Notch, the famed state park set in a mountain pass that is a bucket lister for East Coast hikers, skiers, and mountain bikers.

Beer aficionados will appreciate the Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery. And even if you’re not out there to ride, you can take the Loon Mountain gondola or the Cannon Mountain tram to see the summit of either hill.

I decided to try snowmobiling, also in Lincoln, with a top-notch outfit called Sledventures. I chose the guided tour at the most beginner level since I have never driven a snowmobile before. They not only provide the sled, but everything you’ll need, from helmet to boots.

We were part of a group of 11 snowmobiles cruising through the designated trails of the White Mountains. Driving the sled proved to be much less intimidating than I’d imagined. As I got more comfortable, I opened her up … to 20 mph.

Snowmobile tours offer some great views of the White Mountain backcountry. Photo: Jon Coen

Each rental sled has different keys that allow it to do different speeds. But the speed limit on the trails is, understandably, 25 mph. You can’t just let the general public hop on a 600-cc sled and go ripping through the woods. So, if you picture yourself doing rooster tails and tearing through a snowy mountainside, adjust your expectations. I think we got passed by hikers at one point.

You’re not likely to see any wildlife with the din of 11 snowmobiles, but the 90-minute ride is pleasant, with nice views of the backwoods, and winds next to the picturesque Pemigewasset River.

If you have prior experience, you can rent the sleds and take off on your own.

It was a great way to finish out the week in New Hampshire. Driving back to Manchester Airport, I couldn’t help but think that I’d scored a perfect Northeast weather pattern that provided fresh snow in the hills, swell on the coast, and blue bird days at both.

Live free or die.

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