Gilford Tow
Gilford Outing Club
Gilford, NH

History    By the Year    Memories    Current Photos

March 27, 2004 - Photo by Wojtek Migdalski


By the Year

Year Lifts Trails Other Info Source
1950 800' tow   Gilford Outing Club moves to 11A location Kyle Mukulis
1951 650' tow unknown Warming hut, ski rentals / instruction. Contact: Francis Piche  
1992   4 Area closes Multiple


MLeahy: Gilford Outing Club is where Penny Pitou learned to ski. I seem to remember it may have been operated by Frances Piche - a mailman who started Piche's Ski Shop in his basement (now a major retail operation just over the Laconia line in Gilford).

Bob Fay: I learned to ski at the Gilford Outing Club in the early 70's.  Even though the area was really small, it was a great place to learn how to ski mainly because they brought over ski instructors from neighboring Gunstock every weekend to give group lessons to all the kids in the area.  I have many fond memories of taking these lessons with all my friends, and I believe the frequency of these lessons helped me to become the good skier I am today.  The Club instituted a skill level system (I think it was 1 through 5), and you would wear a badge while skiing that showed your skill level.  It was sort of a status symbol among your fellow 3rd or 4th graders if you were a level 5.  If nothing else, those with 5 "stripes" were really good skiers.

Other things I remember about the Outing Club:

- The effort required of me as an 8 year old boy trying to hold up the rope by myself as I ascended up the old rope tow.
- Going through 2-3 pairs of gloves a season due to the rope tow
- Eating a lunch out of my lunchbox in the shack that passed for the base lodge
- During my first day of skiing, breaking one of my wooden skis in half.
- Talking "trash" to all your schoolmates while bombing down the hill thinking you were Jean-Claude Killy.

Don Chesebrough: Gilford Outing Club closed at the end of the 1992 season.  Official closing occurred in the Fall of 1993.         Primary reason for the closing was high insurance costs and low attendance.

Rope was sold but the mechanism remained on the property.  It is currently scheduled to be dismantled and moved to Rollercoaster Road in Laconia by a private landowner.  According to the State Inspector, the electric traction drive was one of the best in NH.

The “lodge” remains at the bottom of the hill and the area is clearly identifiable at the intersection of Rtes 11A & 11B in Gilford (11A is the road to Gunstock). I joined GOC in 1973 and was head of maintenance at GOC for many years and spent many hours grooming the slopes for weekend skiing. A good source of early information would be Gary Allen in Gilford.  Another good source of the early days would be Penny Pitou as her father was one of the founders; contact Penny Pitou Travel at (603) 524-2500 or check her web page.  Property was always privately owned and has now been donated to the town and is used primarily as a sledding hill.

Ken Krauss: Actually my family were active members in the Gilford Outing Club (we never called it the Gilford Tow).  It was here that I took ski lessons from Penny Pitou (America's silver medallist winter Olympics 1968?).  There were three trails, one for beginners, one for racing and one for the hotshots.  The main lodge served hot chocolate and burgers.

Robert Harrington: As a youngster I skied on this slope, although I cannot remember the exact years. We knew it as Piche's Ski Slope, operated by Francis Piche, founder of Piche's Ski Shop in Gilford, now owned by Bob Bolduc. We did have a small jump that we built to the skier's right on the slope that is to your right as you face up the hill. As I recall, Penny Pitou was among the local kids using the area. Gary Allen of Gilford would probably know more about the area, as would Bob Bolduc, I'm sure. Robert Harrington

Bob Bishop: That was a wonderful family oriented club with it tow, jump, and warming hut for the local people. I skied there often in the 1960s. I lived about 1/2 mile from it and had several "jobs" at Gunstock Ski Area including Ski Patrol and Coach of the Laconia High School Girls Ski Team, so would pass the Outing Club both going and coming from Gunstock each day. It was always active and I would often stop in. Penny Pitou, who ran the ski school at Gunstock, took an active interest in the club.

Gary Howard: I remember the slopes being filled with large numbers of skiers during the late 70's as I took my kids to Gunstock to lessons.  It was limited to member so the Gilford Outing Club as I recall so we never stopped there to ski.



Current Photos

Wojtek Migdalski visited this area on March 27, 2004 and took the following photos. The really show the state of the area in 2004.

Here's a shot of some of the pulleys for the rope tow, near the old base lodge.

A pulley still standing.
The base lodge, deteoriating.

A wide slope at the area.




Kyle Mikulis: The Gilford Outing Club moved to the "Gilford Tow" site in 1950, after having used a single rope tow on the east side of School House Hill for a few years in the late 40's. The Outing Club closed down in 1992. I do recall as recently as the 80's seeing the Gilford Tow in operation. I had some friends that learned to ski there back in the 70's. I used to walk to school along School House Hill Rd. and do not recall seeing any evidence of the old rope tow that was once located in the pasture there.

Mike Boivin: Hey , I love your site. I grew up in Gilford then moved to Nashua in '83. I have pictures of my family skiing at the Gilford Outing Club in the late '70's. My mother worked at the snack bar. Must have been a good place to start, I've spent the last 8 years ski-bumming in Colorado.Also, I could swear I remember seeing a snowcat out while I was driving to Gunstock once. This was AFTER moving to Nashua. So i am reasonably sure it ran into the mid-80's.

Jim Boivin: before "graduating" to Gunstock and Alpine Ridge. They had a ski school program, a couple of trails, a rope tow, at a small lodge at the base. This is in the '73-'75 time frame (don't know when exactly, I was 5). The lodge was heated by a wood stove and had a large picture window looking up at the hill. My mom worked behind the counter sometimes, and they had donuts and hot Tang (don't laugh, it was great as a kid. Haven't tried it since out of fear of being disappointed). The tow was just that: a rope tow. Initially, I couldn't go on the tow because I had wool mittens and they (whomever they were) were afraid that the mittens would stick to the rope when it was time to get off. There were two trails, one on each side of the lift. There might have been another trail on the lodge side but I can't remember. My father has pictures of me slaloming with the ski school.

Gary Howard

Suzy (Laflam) Sheppard: This is where I learned how to ski. I am only 31 (almost 32) so it hasn't been that long since it quit operation (well time is relative I guess). I moved away to VT in 1978 and it was still going strong then, I may be able to find out from my parents when it ceased operation. I remember going over that jump that you mention. I could probably even dig up some pictures of it for you if you'd like. Great idea for a website. I have very fond memories of Gilford Outing Club (that's what I always called it, didn't know it was called Gilford Tow).

Don Laflam: I was president of the club in the mid 70's.  During that year some of the club members raised the club house and poured a concrete floor along with other improvements.  My two daughters learned to ski there.  I was an instructor too.  I understand that it closed because of the high insurance cost to operate it.

Bobbi Evans: 

the rope tow at the Gilford Outing Club.  This area is right down the street from our house.  It was donated to the town of Gilford a few years back & was a used as a sledding & snowboarding hill last year.  This year it is being used for storage of gravel, topsoil & equipment for the sewer extension project.  We hope it will be returned to its normal condition and use as soon as the project is completed.

   About 15 or so years ago, this was still in operation.  Our family was a member of the Outing Club.  The little ski area was a co-operative effort by the members, each family pitching in to do various jobs, such as opening, closing, and maintaining the warming hut, making hot dogs, hamburgers, hot chocolate, etc., running the tow, running the little snow cat (Don Cheeseborough did this job, he is still here in Gilford.)  One of the Outing Club leaders during our days as members was John Foley, he lives in Meredith or Center Harbor(?)  The Outing Club had a lot of other activities, such as cross-country skiing & snowshoeing, family hikes and treks all over New Hampshire, and so on.  It was truly an outing club & lots of fun.

   Back to the rope tow:  many of our kids learned to ski &/or practiced skiing here; it was great fun to get together with all our friends on Saturdays & Sundays.  Most of us also skied at Gunstock in the racing program (Gunstock Ski Club) -- many of the same families were very active in both (the Foleys for instance.)  Sadly, the rope tow was closed because the cost of liability insurance was prohibitive for a small family club with nominal dues and "only" enthusiasm as our greatest resource.  I hope all the families, and the kids especially, will always remember their weekends at the Outing Club.

Reed Gokey: I am 15 years old and i can remember skiing for the first time at the outing club back in 1990. i must have been 3 but i can remember going up the rope tow and skiing down the main slope and hot dogs in the little lodge. For info on the area there were three trails, bone cursher (Advanced), narrows ( intermidiate) jumping jack(intermitiate) and the main slope flip-flop (easiest). theres was one rope tow serviceing the hill which was in between bone crusher and jumping jack. There was(and still is) a small base lodge complete with a grill and refregerator. Some other building inculding an outhouse which i will always remember are also still there. The hill was closed in 1992 for the same reason alpine ridge was closed, competition from gunstock. BUT the place is not a complete loss, even though bone cursher is coverd in houses and the rope tows gone. The main slope is now a favorite sledding hill for people in the town. And on occasion some kids my age will climb up and bulid skiing jumps. There is actually a jumping ramp on what used to be jumping jack.I hope this information helps you with your site.

scott sargentThough I was never a member, the Gilford Outing Club was up and running (including the tow) through at least the mid-80's. I graduated from Gilford High School in 1987 and several of my classmates were members of the club. My only specific recollection of the area is that members had to pass skill tests to ski on the more difficult slopes (such as they were!), with the last test allowing them to go off the jump mentioned on your page. Each skier wore a clear plastic badge which contained ribbons of varying colors indicating the slopes that each was allowed to ski.

Mark Winkelaar

My Name is Mark Winkelaar, I started skiing at The Gilford Outing Club 
at Age 
3.  I was born in 1966.  My mother started my sister, my brother and 
skiing and took us often enough that my earliest childhood memories 
spent on the Hill.  My Father worked as a soil scientist for the USFS 
with snow farmers to keep their slopes stable.  There were two rope 
The one to the left was more advanced and actually had moguls, I recall 
having a name like "bone break".  The tow to the right was where all of 
skiing happened and I know there was a run through the trees called 
country.  Basic smooth runs with raked ice cubes.  It was $50 for the 
family for the season, and it was prettty much a volunteer run 
mountain, Dads 
ran the tow rope, Moms ran the grill selling burgers.  It was really 
when Penny Pitou, Olympic Silver Medalist came down from Gunstock to 
to teach skiing.   We received white felt stripes in a pin on plastic 
As you advanced you got another stripe.  You could see how good someone 
by how many stripes they had.  I chipped the bone in my arm after a 
girl fell 
in front of me on the tow, rather than letting the rope slide through 
mittens, I skied off the side and down the hill.  The surface was 
glazed ice 
and I slid into the guy wire holding up the pole for the tow rope.  I 
remember being carried down the hill by someone on ski's and getting my 
hamburger in the clubhouse out of sympathy.  I moved to Utah at age 7, 
I now 
have a 10 yr old and 4 yr old both active on the slopes, and started as 
I did 
on a small family run mountain.




winning two silver medals in skiing at the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley,




Many people have noticed this ski area on the way to Gunstock from the west going east. Now, thanks to Galen Doscher, we now know that its name. It was operated by the Gilford Outing Club. A parking lot is plowed out of the small flat area near the road and large groups can be seen sledding when the snow is favorable.  Galen has never seen the tow move - it doesn't look entirely stable.

There are several trails and what appears to be an old jump.

Does anybody else remember skiing here? If so, just let us know.

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