snow covered river in Bristol NH

Five Things to Do in Bristol in Winter

February 8, 2022 9:00 am

Tens of thousands of people come to Bristol, NH, during the warmer months to enjoy the outdoors on Newfound Lake, our hiking trails, or on our five rivers. But one of the things that makes Bristol great is that we are a fun town year round. Whether you ski, hike, fish or like to sit by a warm fire with a pint of craft beer, there’s something for you to do this winter in Bristol. And if you want to know what else is available in town, check out our post on local amenities.

Skiing Local Slopes

Bristol’s central location in New Hampshire places it a short drive from two ski mountains. Ragged Mountain has been a favorite spot for locals to learn for many years. Whether you’re a beginner or want to spend the day with your family, Ragged Mountain offers a full day of family fun. The mountain offers group lessons, private lessons and a kids Adventure camp for children ages 6 to 12.

Ragged Mountain Resort, located in Danbury, has 57 trails, five lifts and three terrain parks for those who like to get some air. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, there are three restaurants on the mountain as well. Open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekends and holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you’re looking for a bigger mountain experience, you never have to go far when you’re in Bristol. Waterville Valley, Loon Mountain and Cannon, all along the I-93 corridor, are less than 45 minutes from town.


Snowshoeing is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the peaceful, snowy woods throughout Bristol. It’s an affordable winter pastime for people of all ages and offers enthusiasts whatever level they are looking for, slow rising slopes or more challenging mountain hikes. 

A popular snowshoeing excursion is up Little Sugarloaf, a mountain with an elevation of 1,000 feet. The Elwell Trail offers a moderate hike to the summit, while the Goose Pond Trail offers a quieter scene. Don’t forget to pack a bite and a thermos of warm drink to enjoy while taking in views from the top.

For folks who prefer to get outside on cross-country skis or on foot, there’s plenty of great Nordic skiing and winter hiking in the area, too. In the winter, Mt Cardigan is a popular spot for winter hikes and backcountry skiing – just check the New Hampshire State Park website for trail maps. There’s also nearby Franconia, which offers both private and state-run cross-country skiing trails.

Grab a Pint (or a Glass)

There are plenty of eateries and breweries in Bristol where you can stay warm inside all winter long. Shackett’s Brewing Company, Travelers Rest, and Woodman’s Brewery all offer freshly brewed craft beer, while Kathleen’s Irish Pub has all the comforts of the Emerald Isle, including live music, Irish pub fare, and the largest Irish whiskey list in New Hampshire.

If beer is not your thing, head over to the Crazy Cat Winery on Lake Street, which produces all wines on site using locally sourced fruits and a variety of grapes and juices from around the world. The philosophy here is that wine should be approachable and fun. Visitors are recommended to call ahead if you want a tasting. 

Hike Mount Cardigan

One of the most popular hikes year round in the region, Cardigan Mountain offers great views of west and central New Hampshire. Cardigan Mountain State Park is managed by the state and has 5,655 acres to explore, on snowshoe or Nordic skis. Experienced winter hikers will love the 3,100-foot granite summit. Just remember, the park is not manned in the winter, so take precautions when heading up the mountain. This post gives a good description of the mountain in winter.

Learn to Ice Fish

Unless you grew up near a lake, chances are you didn’t do much ice fishing as a kid. The sport has a short season in Central New Hampshire, but can be a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the winter months outdoors. It requires a little gear and a fishing license, but once you have what you need, you can enjoy hours of fishing on Newfound Lake.

Curious about how to get started? This post will give you an overview of what you need. Want to know the fishing regulations on Newfound Lake, this official state site outlines the rules of ice fishing. You can also talk to the many people who spend their winter days on the ice. It’s a popular pastime here, and you may even run into a New Hampshire Fish and Game Officer enjoying a little fishing of their own who can provide some tips. 

Winter may seem long and cold, but the time passes quickly when you have fun things to do. If you’re interested in learning more about Bristol, NH and the businesses that call our town home, visit our website.