Tyson wanted to explore the back side of Mt Watatic in case it snows enough to ski it this winter. We had skied one run back in 2013. Since then, Tyson has read that there are better maintained glades on the upper part of the mountain.
Freezing rain on Christmas day coated all the trees in ice. The ice was still there a day later when we hiked. The sun sparkled and reflected off each branch and bud. The birch trees all bent down across the trail so low their branches scraped the ground. As we pushed through the branches, the ice clicked and clattered like a bead curtail. The branches, though, were a good deal harder to push through than a curtain.
Tyson found the glades. They are above the access road after it has zagged back into the ski runs. Comparing to the map on New England Lost Ski Areas Project, I would say the glades are in the upper part of the old Little Dipper, Big Dipper, and Cascade runs. The glades are in the older hardwood and spruce forest. Young birch and pine choke the former ski runs, making them hard to maintain as glades. The old runs do see plenty of foot traffic. We followed a worn path down Wapack. I picked that run because it isn’t on open street maps. Except for the bent over birch trees, it looked skiable. That put me in the conundrum of wishing winter would stay cold so the ice could act as solid base for the snow pack, while simultaneously wishing for a warm spell to melt the ice off the birches and let them stand up.
Now that I have looked at the NELSAP map, I would guess that the small side trails we saw led to Spruce and Poplar. From the satellite imagery, Little Dipper might be skiable top to bottom.
We also learned more about parking. The old ski area entrance road is gated and plastered with no parking signs. Instead, you should park at the field up Bennett Rd to the northwest. Mass Dept of Fisheries and Wildlife owns the field. There are parking spaces on both sides of the road. I don’t know if they will be plowed. Farther up the road at the state line, we found a small plowed turn around with a trail back to the field.
Emilie and Tyson’s Photos