Pinkham Notch, NH The newest Mt. Washington SnowCoach at Great Glen Trails and the Mt. Washington Auto Road is slated to be more energy efficient and even more durable in the challenging terrain conditions found on Mount Washington.

Mount Washington SnowCoaches ... Comfortable Winter Tours Above the Clouds!

Wrapped in a sleek new custom graphic, the latest of three Mt.Washington SnowCoaches has been converted to propane and fitted with a more aggressive track system making it more reliable in extreme terrain conditions. Propane, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), is a safe, clean-burning, high-energy alternative fuel; and when used in place of petroleum-based fuels, reduces tailpipe emissions. The clean-burning characteristics of propane also allow the engine to have increased service life.

“The propane conversion is just another step towards becoming more environmentally conscious at Great Glen and the Auto Road”, stated Howie Wemyss, General Manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center. “Two other coaches used for guided tours in the summer have already been converted and more are planned for 2015.”

Additional upgrades to the Mt. Washington SnowCoaches have also taken place to the unique, all-wheel drive track system which enable the 9-passenger vehicles to travel on the snow-covered Auto Road during the snowy winter months. New Dominator® track systems have been designed by American Track Truck of Chassell, Michigan which are lighter and provide better floatation, dramatically increasing traction and stability even in the deepest snow. The frame of each track is fabricated from T-1 grade steel providing superior strength with minimal weight. The new tracks are easy to install and weigh approximately 170 lbs each compared to the prior tracks which weighed 700 lbs each.

“We are really excited about these upgrades to the SnowCoach program”, noted Nate Harvey, Great Glen Trails manager. “Our tour schedule will be more consistent for guests, passengers will get a softer, more comfortable ride, and our mechanics may actually enjoy a day or two off once in a while”. Dominator® tracks are practically maintenance free, allowing convenient and reliable operation in even the worst weather conditions and most challenging environments.

Guided winter tours aboard the Mt. Washington SnowCoaches are approximately 1¼ hour long and depart daily from December through March from the Great Glen Trails base lodge at the base of Mt. Washington on a first come, first served basis. Operating hours are approximately 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 pm (8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. early in the season), depending on weather and snow conditions. The cost for the winter sightseeing experience is $49 for adults and $30 for children ages 5-12. Advance reservations are not available due to unpredictable weather and snow conditions.

The Mt. Washington SnowCoaches climb to about 4,200 feet, otherwise known as treeline, which is approximately two-thirds the way to the 6,288-foot summit. Upon arrival to the turnaround point, passengers are allowed to exit the SnowCoach to experience the weather and snow conditions which Mount Washington is so famous for. Guests can take up to 15 minutes outside the SnowCoach for photos and videos before the climbing back onboard for the journey back to the base.

The SnowCoach is available as  a stand-alone tour or as part of the Trails Total Ticket, which offers complete access to everything available at Great Glen Trails for one discounted price. The Trails Total Ticket includes a trail pass for XC skiing and snowshoeing; cross country ski and snowshoe rentals; all-day access to the tubing hill and a tour on the SnowCoach.

Additional info can be found by visiting or by calling (603) 466-3988.

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Paddling Staff Retreat-Penobscot

Hey guys, just thought I’d catch you up on what some of the staff does around here for fun on their days off.  Ian, Liz, and I rallied up to The West Branch of the Penobscot for a few days of kayaking and camping.  Known for its dependable class IV White Water this has been an annual trip for my friends and I for years.  This is the first year I had dragged Ian and Liz along though.  In fact, it’s only second time Ian had really paddled any significant white water (ok, any white water).

We met another boater along the way on route 95 (Ben has been helping me with some Lyndon State Courses I teach) and spread out the load of gear for the long haul.  We were actually headed for the Seboomook section first (7 hours from home) so that everyone could see this really cool “pool drop” section of the river.  Only two miles long, it was a great stretch of river to get everyone warmed up for the big stuff we would hit the next day.  The Seboomook is about 12 different rapids all at a class III difficulty.  Everyone loved this stretch and swore to come back.

Staff padding, great glen trails, whitewater

Staff padding, great glen trails, whitewater Staff padding, great glen trails, whitewater We landed at camp by 6:30pm that night (about 12 hours after we started driving) and were snoring by 9pm.  Up early pressing coffee and getting the fire going we enjoyed our beautiful site at the bottom of the Cribworks rapid.  I ran the upper stretch of river while Ian, Liz and Ben got some pics and walked the dogs (yes, we had four dogs in the truck too!!).  The group decided to set a shuttle downstream of our site at Big Eddy so we could run Little Ambejackwockamus, Big Ambejackwockamus, and Neswadnehunk Falls.  So. Much. Fun.  We all did some laps on the big drop at the end and had a blast running into the huge hydraulic at the bottom of the waterfall.  More food back at the site, a couple drinks, a huge fire and we were in bed again before 9pm.

Day 3 we needed to pack up and leave the site by 9am in order to make our morning run down Abol Rapid and Big Pockwockamus Rapid.  Absolutely stunning views of Mt. Katadin and some of the best foliage I have ever seen made the morning go way too fast. Staff padding, great glen trails,whitewater Huge surf waves and fun rapids finished the morning before noon.  We were home by 5pm only to unpack and repack for the next trip.  Another Penobscot adventure in the books.  -Nate

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Eye Candy for Bird Enthusiasts

Blog post from Sue Wemyss ~

Today was International Migratory Bird Day.  I’d heard there was to be a bird walk at the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge with Dave Govatski this morning.  Dave is incredible:  super friendly and full of knowledge about birds, trees, and seemingly everything in the natural world.  I was very happy my schedule was open to join this guided bird walk.

It was pouring rain when it was time for me to leave Randolph to drive to the meeting point in Jefferson.  But I’ve got good rain gear and I figured it couldn’t possibly keep pouring for the entire morning.  So, maybe I’d get wet . . . I could always come home and dry off afterward.

There were at least two dozen people who showed up at the trailhead/parking area off Airport Road.  Dave welcomed us, we all introduced ourselves, and it was nice to learn there were a number of other birding guides present, in addition to Dave.

The walk into the main pond is about 1.6 miles along an old railroad bed.  The first time Howie and I went birding there, we didn’t even get to the pond—stopping so often along the way to search for the birds we were hearing!  Today we mostly kept moving to the pond, stopping only occasionally to listen to various birds singing.  Most of the identification of species during this time was by ear.  I’m not very good at this yet—identifying bird calls, but I was happy to recognize the call of a winter wren, one of my personal favorite birds, and the classic “Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody …” call of a white throated sparrow.

Winter Wren

Winter Wren-Dwayne Java, Flicker Image


I was happy when the big group split up into smaller groups once we neared the pond.  With the masses following Dave out to the viewing platform on the pond, I chose to go with Chris, along with about five others.

Just past the first trail turnoff, we hit our first jackpot of bird activity.  It was an open area where trails and old rail bed cross. Birds were flitting busily from tree to tree, catching bugs.  Warblers which have been south through the winter were back: black-throated greens, black-throated blues and many yellow-rumped warblers, all of which are very striking with distinctive colorful markings.  Just to see and focus one’s binoculars on a constantly flitting warbler is a big accomplishment in my book!  I was able to get several nice looks at these birds and drink in their natural beauty.

Then, we started seeing the truly spectacular and less often seen warblers in the trees.  The flame orange throat of a Blackburnian Warbler was shockingly bright and beautiful.  A Northern Parula with its bright yellow chest, blue head and back and white wing bars was a treat for the eyes.  Finding and seeing an American Redstart, whose stand-out coloring is patches of orange on its sides, wings and tail seemed like such a gift of nature.

The bird sightings continued for hours!  I saw over thirty species myself, and heard reports of many more from others.  With every beautiful bird sighted, I felt like I was drinking in full glasses of nature.  Soon I felt brimming, almost bursting with all I was seeing and experiencing.  I only wished my favorite birding partner Howie could have been there too, to take it all in.  We will have to go back, together.

The best of the northern NH birding season has arrived!

Sue Wemyss
Ski School Director, Kayak & Active Programs Instructor
Great Glen Trails

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