Passing by the Milan Lumber Company, I knew I was headed in the right direction…
Located just outside the North Country hub of Berlin, Milan Hill State Park is well worth the drive. The park is home to Nansen Ski Club (oldest ski club in America) where cross-country skiing and other winter sports have been a way of life since 1872.
The Nansen trail network is groomed by a state of the art Bombardier snow-cat (once used at the Salt Lake City Olympics, 2002) demonstrating just how much pride the club takes in their 12+ km of classic cross-country paths around Milan Hill. The trails are also exceptionally well-drained, allowing early snow to stick around and stay longer into the season. This year, Nansen Ski Club is even collaborating with abutting land owners to add even more groomed ski terrain.
A fresh coat of sparkling powder greeted me upon arrival, allowing me to glide swiftly across the trails, leaving virgin tracks behind. Milan Hill provides a wide variety of trails for skiers of all abilities. As a beginner – I loved the generous trail width which permitted safe passage down the small hills while maintaining a rush of adrenaline.
From the Ranger Cabin, temperatures read just below 20 degrees proving to be just right for skiing. Even with the sun shining, I never felt overly warm from my cardio workout.
Climbing the Fire Tower is a MUST DO at Milan Hill State Park since it provides maximum reward for minimal work. From the top I got some of the most outstanding views I have ever seen in New Hampshire!
On any given day, you can get a complete view of the ranges in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and Canada.
From the Fire Tower – I proceeded off of Core Loop and onto 2nd Extension Loop. Along the way we spotted the Milan Hill State Park yurts (portable, wood-framed dwellings) on the side of the trail. Having never seen one before, I took a peak inside and discovered what might be considered a luxury campsite. In summer the yurts are available for reservation as part of the Milan Hill State Park Campground.
Feeling fulfilled after exploring all the trails Milan has to offer, my mother and I finished the day by signing the Nansen Ski Club’s guest register book. The more people that are recorded coming to Milan the more funding Nansen receives for grooming and other costs – so be sure to sign when you visit!
As we left the park in late-afternoon, we debated whether or not to go back to the Fire Tower for sunset. Ultimately, deciding YES was a wise idea! The Fire Tower can be walked too for those skied-out for the day.
Prior to my visit, I asked this question of Nansen’s Club President Leane Rexford:
“Milan Hill State Park is quite far away…why should people from around the state venture here instead of going to other local cross-country ski trails near their home?”
Her answer was impressive, noting the numerous benefits of Milan:
“It is not crowded, and it’s very affordable, as folks pay by donation. Also, for me personally, I love the general scene, folks ski on really old skis with 3 pin bindings, or newer skate skis and its comfortable for all. You’ll see racing tights and wooly pants on skiers at Milan Hill State Park. I think that makes it a less intimidating scene for new skiers. We are all about getting out and playing in the snow, and having fun on the trails. The club also has a growing supply of used ski equipment that we make available free of charge for members and their guests.”
After my experience at Milan Hill – I couldn’t agree more!
Exciting times at Milan are on their way with the 3rd Annual Nansen Milan Winter Festival coming up in just a couple weeks! It will be a great time to check out this park.