Attitash Bear Peak packs a lot of wallop into a mid-size resort. It's bigger than it looks, and it skis bigger than it is. American Skiing Co. purchased the 1,750-vertical-foot ski area in 1994 andimmediately began development of adjacent 1,450-foot Bear Peak. The combination offers a little something for everyone. Fans of old-style New England trails love the tight, twisting runs on Attitash, while cruisers like the open, fall-line runs on Bear Peak. Families appreciate the one-stop shopping of the Adventure Center, where children's programs, daycare, rentals and learn-to-ski programs are housed under one roof. First-timers praise the segregated Learning Center, with its own triple chair. Add the challenging glades on Bear Peak, the race arena on Attitash, the ski-in/ski-out Grand Summit condo-hotel at Bear Peak and a handful of bump runs to the equation, and it's no wonder this resort has such wide-ranging appeal. That's not to say there's no room for improvement. While a high-speed base-to-summit quad keeps lines short on Bear Peak, the Attitash side sorely needs a high-speed summit lift. And while skiing from Bear Peak to Attitash is easy, the reverse is lift- and time-intensive. It's faster to take the shuttle. Some readers complain about crowds in the base lodges, especially at mealtimes, but savvy skiers know they can enjoy a quiet lunch at the Grand Summit. Attitash wins praise from readers for its snowmaking and grooming, instruction and varied terrain. Another plus: its proximity to North Conway, where there are scores of shopping outlets, good restaurants and plenty of nightlife.
WHAT'S NEW Five new acres of expert glades on Bear Peak, a family ski zone and, pending state approval, a new novice route from Attitash to Bear.
A GOOD DEAL Children ages 5-12 pay their age on non-holiday Sundays.
MEDALS SILVER Challenge, Après-Ski Off-Hill Activities.
HIGH/LOW RANK Off-Hill Activities (23), Après-Ski (25), Access (31); Lifts (69), Value (69), On-Mountain Food (75).
DON'T MISS An early-morning cruise on Illusion, an appropriately named intermediate trail on Bear Peak that seems to have no end.
READER REMARKS (+) "Good terrain and challenge." (-) "Inadequate lift system on main mountain."