|New London, New Hampshire|
|Vertical Drop:||775 feet|
|Past Lifts:||2 triples, 1 double, surface lifts|
|Left: King Ridge as seen from Mt. Kearsarge (2011)|
|Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
Last updated: January 4, 2018
Located just west of Interstate 89 near New London, King Ridge was a popular family area for many decades. A lack of snowmaking for many years, along with accumulated debt, led to its demise in 1995.|
New London Outing Club
King Ridge's origins date back to the founding of the New London Outing Club in 1947. A rope tow was installed on the Northeast slope, introducing area children to the sport of alpine skiing.
As the 1960s approached, the club decided it had out grown the slope. In the spring of 1961, New London Outing Club President Dr. William P. Clough Jr. announced a 400 tract of land in Sutton would be developed for skiing under the name of King Ridge. Realizing it would be too big an entity to handle as part of the Outing Club, the ski area was spun off into a separate company.
King Ridge Opens
A $200,000 development, King Ridge opened on December 13, 1961. The initial operation included five Alice in Wonderland themed trails served by a T-Bar and a rope tow. Uniquely, the King Ridge was built as an upside-down ski area, as the main lodge and parking lot were both located at the summit of the area. Bill Bardsley, formerly of nearby Mt. Sunapee, was hired as the General Manager and was credited with coming up with the Alice in Wonderland naming scheme.
The King Ridge lodge in the late 1960s
After relatively successful 88-day opening season, the Northside complex was developed for 1962-63, serviced by a T-Bar. In addition, the main lodge was doubled in size, capping a $88,000 expansion. 1962-63 was also successful, resulting in a 67% increase in business.
With no snowmaking system in place, King Ridge found itself struggling during fickle season in the mid 1960s. Nonetheless, thanks in part to having a stream of revenue flowing from nearby Colby Junior College students.
Crowds and Expansion
King Ridge expanded significantly for the 1967-68 season when it added the Southside area. A Hall double chairlift and J-Bar served new novice terrain, taking some stress off the heavily used T-Bars. An additional J-Bar was installed for the following season.
The Eastside T-Bar circa the 1960s
Starting around 1969-70, King Ridge rolled out a unique reservation-only requirement for weekend skiing. Often forced to turn skiers away by 9:30 AM due to overcrowding, the area allowed skiers with a special card to make reservations to claim a lift ticket.
To help address the weekend crowding, King Ridge installed New Hampshire's first triple chairlift in 1972. Serving new trails on King Hill, the lift pulled some traffic away from the congested summit area. In addition, a new $300,000 lodge was opened. As a result of the expansion, King Ridge increased its weekend day reservation cap from 1,700 to 2,500 skiers.
Unfortunately for King Ridge, their investment on a lift and a lodge corresponded with bad snow years. Without snowmaking to bridge the gap, the area quickly found itself running out of credit. Nevertheless, the area was able to gain national press with the bad snow years, when General Manager Bill Bardsley famously superstitiously shaved his beard at the end of 1973-74. When 1974-75 saw more snowfall, the feat was considered a success.
Bad snow years hit once again at the turn of the decade. Snowmaking was finally installed for the 1981-82 season, though considered an experimental system. Ironically, there was adequate snowfall that season, which also marked a changing of the guard from long time manager Bill Bardsley to John Vorel.
King Ridge's final big investment came in 1986, when it replaced the original Eastside T-Bar with a new triple chairlift. The investment was initially successful, as first half business increased by 50% that season.
The early 1990s were not great at King Ridge, resulting in millions of dollars of debt. Following the 1992-93 season, New London Trust, Sugar River Savings Bank, and Lake Sunapee Savings decided to foreclose on King Ridge. With the area in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a judge allowed the area to avoid auction and continue to operate. Stuart Collins and Deborah Cryans, both from Bretton Woods, took over as General Manager and Assistant General Manager.
The summit base of operations in the late 1960s or early 1970s
While the new management worked hard to capitalize on the family market, they were unable to overcome a 28 percent decline in business due to a feeble 32 inch seasonal snow accumulation in 1994-95. In April of 1995, King Ridge was handed over to New London Trust.
King Ridge Goes to the Auction Block
King Ridge ski area was put on the auction block on June 28, 1995. While one bidder attempted to purchase the ski area for $750,000 with the intention of keeping it open, it ended up being split up, raising a total of $785,000. The triple chairlifts stayed in New Hampshire, with the King Ridge Triple going to Ragged Mountain and the Eastside Triple going to King Pine. The main summit area of the ski area was converted into home lots by the Northland Residential Corporation, thus putting an end to King Ridge ski area as we know it.
The former lodge (2002)
Click on lift name for information and photos
Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
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|1961-62||December 13||March 31|
|"I began working at King Ridge in 1986. Hired by John Vorel as the assistant rental manager under Ed Ladouceur. Soon after I started working there, I knew that I wanted to be in the ski & snowboard industry. I left to pursue a degree in Ski Area Operations at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, CO. with John's encouragement, and every intention of returning to NH to launch my career in earnest. It was not to be. I fell in love with Colorado. In those 33 years since I started at King Ridge, I have worked in Vail/Beaver Creek, Mt. Hood Meadows, OR., Crested Butte, and have spent the last nearly 14 years plying my trade in Aspen-Snowmass. I have a great fondness for King Ridge, the people I worked with there, and the journey that started on its' humble slopes. It makes me sad to see it going to weeds."|
|Steve Hill, Nov. 8, 2018|
|"One of my earliest memories is my first solo trip on a J-bar on the Tea Party lift in 1968. I was 3. My parents took turns skiing with me and skiing the rest of the mountain. I still remember that my dad sent me up on the j-bar ahead of him and the lift attendant commented that most parents went first to show the kid how to do it. My dad wanted me in front to surprise my mom. And after almost 2 seasons of riding the j-bar between my parents knees, he was pretty sure I knew how it worked. He also wanted to make sure that if I did fall off he could get off too or scoop me up. A few seasons later my first run on a black diamond was on Mad Hatter!"|
|Ellen La Place, Aug. 31, 2018|
|"I was a volunteer ski instructor for 3rd grade school students in the 1950's. It was a winter Phys. Ed. program.
The bus brought the "kids" to King Ridge about 12:30 PM & we skied until 2:30 PM. It was great fun for all of us!
Years later I "ran into" some of my former students at Peter Christians Restaurant. We reminisced & all felt sad about the closing of our favorite winter "home". "|
|George Green, Jun. 25, 2018|
|"Born and raised in Plymouth and skied Tenny Mountain since age 5. Then moved to New London in 1972 and continued skiing every winter. Found a couple of my season passes to King Ridge for $ 25.00 to ski anytime in my a shoe box last month. What amazing memories and my love of King Ridge will stay with me. Loved it so much I was married on top of King Ridge in 1985. Thx for posting this history of King Ridge. "|
|Deb Zampieri Gaskin, Feb. 6, 2018|
|"So many memories...my mom, Syd, managing the office with Helen Preston, and later Mary Perry (yes, mother of Joe Perry of Aerosmith); my brother, Rich, painting the big Alice in Wonderland murals on the walls of the main lodge; my brother Jeff and I working behind the kitchen counter with Marge and Barb and Mary and Nat, my pal Sue Duford and I working together and taking cigarette breaks (when cigarettes were 25 cents a pack)...costume/funny hat days for the employees; the Lauridsens' ski school, Fred Duford, Stan the carpenter, and of course flying down the slopes with Sue and Terry and Garry during the times we weren't working. Getting up at the crack of dawn to get to work, my brothers going off the back road in the jeep one early morning, working tickets in the underground office under the main lodge later in my life with my roommate and fellow teacher Laura Toohey (on weekends after working at KRHS during the week). Clearly, I could go on and on...all fond memories."|
|Anne (Badmington) Cass, Jan. 25, 2018|
|"So sad... I grew up in NH and left as a teen but am now moving back to NH at 46. I have always told stories about Kings Ridge. Our school would bus us up, it was so much fun! Plus, i learned how to ski there and my little brother. I just recently found out it was gone. Kind of devasted... wanted to go back... I guess just have the old memories."|
|Nicole Long, Dec. 2, 2017|
|"I just found trail maps in my parents basement from the 1971-1972 and 1972-1973 ski seasons. I learned to ski at King Ridge, miss it tremendously."|
|Randy Langer, Oct. 15, 2017|
|"We began skiing at King Ridge in 1975 and continued skiing there until it closed. Rented a locker in the basement of the main lodge where we kept our skii equipment all season. We became very good skiers , some years skiing 25 to 30 days a season. Our three children learned to ski there and have become excellent advanced skiers over the years, now passing their love of skiing to their children . My wife and I are still skiing at 70 and 72!!! Thank you King Ridge we miss you!"|
|Bob Creeden, Mar. 17, 2017|
|"I only skied there once, but it was the one time my Dad attempted to ski. They rented him 6 ft long natural wood grain ski's. This was probably the late 60's at this point. I later attended Dartmouth but grew up in Melrose on the rope tow. (also now Long gone). I have passed the exit countless times now that my Daughter also attends Dartmouth and always wondered what happened. Today I finally looked up the history. Conditions have been so much better it seems in the last 15 years. Too bad they closed it for just the extra $15K. Simpler times. Lace up boots. And long ski's. Maybe they could build the lodge at the bottom and re- open? Loved the place. I will always remember it. Thanks so much for providing this great detailed history."|
|Steve Morris, Jan. 3, 2017|
|"My sister and brother in law had a house nearby and my wife, kids and I were lucky enough to be invited on many occasions, all the kids started skiing there and my wife and I shared some of our best years there, memories like riding up on the chairlift with my wife and enjoying the view are great memories, we commuted up from Long Island. Oh the homemade donuts. Great family location and wonderful people. as they say often imitated but never duplicated, one of a kind!"|
|Bill Sloan, Dec. 30, 2016|
|"I grew up in northeast Mass. In 5th grade, my friend's dad took us to King Ridge ski area. Until then, I had only skiid at the local hill near my house since the age of four. I remember being beside myself with excitement that i was finally going to ski in 'the mountains'. That's what we called them where i grew up. I remember the Lodge at the top, the challenge of the Mad Hatter run which seemed incredibly steep to me at the time, and never wanting to leave at the end of the day. That's the only time i ever skiid there, but it was probably the most important event that inspired me to eventually pursue ski racing thru high school and later division I level racing for New England College in Henniker. I never forgot the King Ridge experience. Amazing. Thank you for this opportunity!"|
|Rick DeLisle, May. 20, 2016|
|"I learned how to ski here. This was the best ski area I ever skied at because it was small and family owned and not mobbed like the mega mountains. It's too bad I can't pass it on to my children..."|
|Dave Wygonowski, Mar. 13, 2016|
|"My grandparents lived in a nearby town, and my parents, brother, and I skiied at King Ridge pretty much every weekend for many years when I was in middle school and high school. We had such a blast. I made several local friends there and we did the pain-in-the-butt teenager thing a bit. We all loved Ralph the chairlift attendant - I'll never forget him. I also remember Bill Bardsley, manager for part of the time we skiied there. My friends and I did weird stuff like ski on one ski all day (I guess we were a bit before our time re snowboarding), ski backwards, try to go down the mountain on the maximum number of trails, and so on. What fun, and what great family and friend memories. "|
|Cinny Little, Aug. 15, 2015|
|"I learned to ski at king ridge in the 80's I still think about it every time I drive past the exit on 89. If it weren't for that mountain I wouldn't have the career I have today! "|
|Johanna Bjorklund, Aug. 14, 2015|
|"I remember walking the hill the spring before it opened with Dr. John Ohler among others. . .much easier with the lift(s) (I thing a t-bar to start), but special to be among the first"|
|Sue McAlary (Sawyer), Aug. 14, 2015|
|"We commuted from Chelmsford MA to King Ridge starting in the mid-sixties up until it closed, and our four kids all learned to ski there with excellent instruction from the ski school. Everyone loved Ralph, the attendant always on duty at the double lift. My most memorable adventure was a run down Bill the Lizard when a squirrel ran across the trail and got stuck under my ski. I froze, and just skied down with him lying belly-up the rest of the way. At the bottom he scampered away--leaving me with a great story to tell!"|
|Ann Murray, Apr. 13, 2015|
|"Absolutely loved this place. Ski'd at KR from 1980 - 85, between ages of 12 - 17, with my dad, uncle, sisters. Mom and Aunt would hang out in lodge, taking care of my baby sister who would often have issues. We all had nicknames based on King Ridge ski experiences and stories, Zoom, Snooks, Grunts, Wonderful memories........"|
|John Cotter, Mar. 29, 2015|
|" I loved this place! I have so many fond memories skiing there alone(meeting other skiers) & with friends(where I taught them to ski). I would ski with my face mask in below zero weather and the ski lift people would check your face for frostbite. Good old times."|
|Joyce Rodrigues, Jan. 30, 2015|
|"I learned how to ski here in the early 90's when I was about 8 years old. I was only there a few times but it was a great place to learn to ski. R.I.P. King Ridge."|
|Chris Conant, Jan. 21, 2015|
|"I cut my teeth skiing at King Ridge. My parents had moved here in the early 70's and with little to do it was a pleasant experience. Well, King Ridge is gone like both my parents and I can only reflect on fond memories."|
|Gil De Laat, Nov. 20, 2014|
|"My family grew up skiing King Ridge. I learned to ski there. It was my favorite place ever to ski. The Boston Cream Pie at the lodge has always been my twin brother and I's favorite. We're forever trying to recreate it. We had a condo at Grand Linden in George's Mills. The King Ridge years as they're called in my family are some of our favorite memories. "|
|Mary Cotton, Jul. 26, 2014|
|"We grew up in New London leaving school on friday afternoon (if schoolwork was done) on a bus and headed for the king Ridge hill. That place was ours as locals felt. Many great memories. "|
|mike kirwan, Jul. 1, 2014|
|"Grew up skiing King Ridge in the late 80,s early 70's. We even had a school ski program where on Friday there was a half day and we would be bused up to the hill for ski lessons. It was our place, King of the Hill. It was unusual for a ski area to have the lodge at the top but we didn't know that. I remember having ski passes and our parents dropping us off in the morning and picking us up at the close of the day. Quieter times. Also remember lace up boots and bindings that went around the back of the boot with the spring clip at the top. In the spring there was a day where they would pour maple syrup on the snow making, what I remember being called 'frogs', a gummy treat. I read the post above. I had been away from skiing also for 20 years and had the same nostalgia being on skis again."|
|Lenore Wright, Apr. 5, 2014|
|"I grew up in New London. In middle school (maybe elementary school too, that was a long time ago) there was a winter program where they would bus us to either Norsk or King Ridge every friday. I opted for King Ridge. I learned to ski there and have so many fond memories. The bowl in the walrus, the cross over to the new triple from the white rabbit, the butterflies in my stomach when doing the mad hatter or march hare. My favorite was the old triple, on the rare occasion it was open. After it closed, I pretty much stopped skiing until this year (about 20 years in between). When I finally did hit the slopes, I was overcome with bittersweet nostalgia. I miss this place dearly."|
|NL Local, Mar. 26, 2014|
|"I'm not sure why my parents decided to make the relatively long trek to King Ridge so relatively often for day-skiing from Boston, but I'm so grateful they did. Everything about the mountain seemed wonderful, from the J-bar I fell off so many times, to the Alice in Wonderland theme, to the lodge at the top. Every time I drive by the exit, I reminisce."|
|Roger Travis, Feb. 18, 2014|
|"As a kid, I loved King Ridge. I loved the Alice in Wonderland theme and the upside down concept. Also, the drive from Massachusetts and anticipating the home made donuts and the donut machine that they had."|
|Michael Kinsella, Jul. 15, 2013|
King Ridge - New England Lost Ski Areas Project
Kings Hill - FranklinSites.com Hiking Guide
New London Northeast Slope - New England Lost Ski Areas Project
New London Outing Club