The Arrowhead Recreation Area in Claremont, New Hampshire is a unique volunteer-run ski hill. Since reopening during the 2002-03 season, its lower mountain has been a valuable spot for locals who want to learn how to ski, along with a fun place for snow tubers and snowmobilers. On the other hand, the upper mountain, which was a part of the original iteration of the ski hill, is no longer lift-serviced.
The old Poma surface lift sits abandoned, with most of the lift towers standing and rotting away. The upper mountain is mowed and remains open to hikers/skinners. During the summertime, various mountain biking and hiking trails are open to the public. Two Sundays ago, I decided to make a short trip to Claremont to check out this town hill.
First opened during the 1962-63 season, the ski area has been open off and on for the past five decades. The mountain featured two Poma surface lifts, with the upper mountain Poma being 2200 feet in length, and the other served the beginner slope. According to NELSAP, one guest called the upper mountain Poma “the steepest, most balls-to-the-wall poma he ever rode!”
The mountain went through financial struggles and multiple owners, before being taken over by the town of Claremont. The mountain was closed throughout most of the 1990s, before reopening during the 2002-03 season thanks to Spencer Allen and the town of Claremont. It has remained open since with two surface lifts, but it is without the upper Poma lift, which sits abandoned.
As a starting point for hiking, you can reference the AllTrails.com route, but there’s also a summer trail map that is located right next to the parking lot.
Frankly, the easiest way to go up without getting lost is walking straight up the old Poma lift lined, which was mowed. You can go up the yellow trail, which is known as Uppity, but many AllTrails users argue that the hiking and biking trails aren’t well marked. At the first portion of the trail, there are some neat sights, such as the old A-Frame bottom lift shack to the Poma lift, and the vintage groomers that they still use.
Overall, the hike was short yet steep. It’s a good off-season workout reaching the top. After you reach the final standing terminal to the Poma lift, the walk over to the actual summit is gradual. A flagpole means you reached your final destination, which sits on the Upper Face trail. The Face runs are short but extremely steep trails and would be epic to shred when there’s sufficient snowpack. A few minutes after arriving at the summit, it started to rain heavily, and I began to make my way downwards.
On my way down, I got to check out the steepness of the Lower Face trail, which is truly a gnarly run. I walked past the rope tows and beginner slopes that still operate during the wintertime, and it conveniently stopped pouring right as I reached my car.
The future of Arrowhead Recreation Area will likely be the status quo of the last two decades. It serves as a learners slope for beginners, tubing and sledding spot, and a place to skin/hike up the old trails when there’s a sufficient amount of snow.
While getting a new lift to the top would be cool, it would cost millions to install a chairlift or surface lift. That doesn’t even account for the money needed to get snowmaking up there, along with new groomers that would be needed for the steeper terrain. Plus, there are more important investments to keep the ski hill active for the years to come. One can dream though, right?
If you’re ever around Claremont, you should check this place out. You can help their current skiing operation, and explore the defunct portions of Arrowhead.
Image Credits: Ian Wood, Arrowhead Recreation Area