Bartlett Mountain | maple villa

Project Type: Glade
Status: Preliminary Approval
Level: Federal, State, Municipal, Private
Location: East Branch Road, Intervale, NH
Ability Level: Entry, Intermediate, Advanced
Aspect: Northwest
Vertical  : 2,000 +/-
Glade Designer: TBD
Surveyor: Kevin Tilton (HEB Engineers)
Glade Chief: Rick Jenkinson
GBA Team: Colin Wroblewski, Rick Boyle, Mark Dindorf, Phil Ostroski, Mike Levine, Ben Cargill
Partners: WMNF, State of NH (DRED), Town of Bartlett, Society for Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust

Bartlett Mountain Project.  The Bartlett Mountain project is not only an exciting project based on the location (just a few miles from North Conway village and a sub-peak of Kearsarge Mountain) but carries a storied history with four iterations of skiing beginning with a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) ski trail known as "Maple Villa". The area has also been home to the Intervale Ski Area , an EMS cross-country network, and most recently the site of the Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring trails.  The land has changed hands over the years but is now largely owned by the WMNF with smaller parcels within the proposed zone owned by the State of New Hampshire (Merriman State Park), Town of Bartlett, and a private land trust - the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF).  Needless to say, the project, with its many land owners  has several layers of complexity, including a requirement to construct a parking lot.  

Status. The WMNF has issued preliminary approval by way of letter from Forest Supervisor Tom Wagner dated April 10, 2017.  The WMNF will do an environmental assessment and seek public input from the Town, abutters and other interested parties this summer. The WMNF is planning to have the project approved through the forest service’s "small projects" process which takes place every April and September, and is a much quicker review (months) than a full NEPA review (years).

Maple Villa Background. The original Maple Villa Ski Trail ran over 2,000 vertical feet and 2.5 miles in length.  The trail was attractive for a variety of abilities, as the bottom third is fairly mellow, the middle pitch intermediate and from the summit there is excellent sustained steeps.  The original trail's width was approximately 15-35 feet.  Maple Villa was named for a hotel at the end of the original ski trail and was quite popular as the first ski trail south of Pinkham Notch in the 1930's. According to Jeff Leich, Executive Director of the New England Ski Museum.  “Maple Villa was an immensely successful hand-cut trail by the CCC that captured the growing popularity of skiing in the 1930’s with the added convenience provided by the Boston snow trains”.  Continued Liech “I am excited for the possible revival of Maple Villa and GBA’s efforts to reconnect with skiing’s past using modern glade development technique.  This will be a fun project to watch, and then of course, ski!”   

Maple Villa Glade Proposal.  If approved, Maple Villa Ski Glade will be cut utilizing modern tree skiing practices, such as braided and island designs, to lessen any adverse impact on the natural habitat.   Although GBA is reviving the classic run, the methods of thinning the forest will be modernized to reflect the desire for skiers and riders to ski through the trees instead of openly cleared trails and use the Maple Villa for access to the glades and for skiing out.  The purpose is to align the glade cutting with GBA’s low-impact, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly standards.

Challenges.  Before applying for approval for the Maple Villa project, one hurdle has to be solved and that’s providing parking.  We’re working with SPNHF which owns about 53 acres that are in a conservation easement on East Branch Road and includes where the Maple Villa trail (or a section of it) begins and ends.  SPNHF is interested in working with us, however they also wish to sell the land or a portion of it.  The Upper Saco Valley Land Trust is also interested in possibly participating in the conservation easement acquisition and helping our initiative, if needed.  A land appraisal is expected to be completed in June, 2017, at which time more discussions will take place.