With freezing temperatures and snow, of course, comes shoveling, plows and taking an extra couple minutes to put on layers before leaving the house.

But for several local businesses, it means something more exciting: the start of ski season.

A mid-November snowstorm followed by a streak of subfreezing temperatures has led to an early start for two local slopes.

"It's been a few years since we've been open before Christmas," said Pam Fletcher, marketing director at Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford, adding that the early start allows families "to get their ski legs under them before Christmas."

Meanwhile, about 30 miles to the west, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton got a similarly early start to the season, opening Nov. 17.

"We are officially enjoying our best November ever," Marketing Director Tom Meyers said.

As of last week, Bradford Mountain in Haverhill hadn't opened, but Marketing and Ski Patrol Director Dennis Gauvin said the forecast for cold weather boded well.

"We're getting ready to go," he said.

How much fresh powder any given ski slope will get is hard to predict in advance of the season, he said. "We kind of chuckle when we look at 'The Farmer's Almanac,'" he said.


No matter your age, Nashoba Valley Ski Area has something for you. COURTESY NASHOBA VALLEY SKI AREA
No matter your age, Nashoba Valley Ski Area has something for you. COURTESY NASHOBA VALLEY SKI AREA

However, heavy snow isn't necessary. All the snow machines at local slopes require is cold temperatures -- ideally around 28 degrees.

Here's a look at some local places to bring your skis and snowboards., Nashoba Valley Ski Area

The ski area in Westford is starting the season with a couple changes, according to Fletcher.

She said the South Lodge has more seating area and food options for relaxing and refueling.

"Space is always limited, and on a busy day, it's always nice to have an additional place to go," Fletcher said.

This year, RJ Bradley's, another longtime Westford business, will run the ski shop, with a focus on providing small items skiers and boarders may have forgotten.

New menu items will be added to The Outlook Restaurant, which overlooks several runs. Also, junior rental skis from Salomon were purchased new this year.

Lift tickets are $58 on holidays and weekends, $48 on weekdays. Fletcher said night, half-day and special offers are also available.

In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Nashoba Valley offers tubing and ticket packages that offer admission to both.

"In snow tubing, you don't need any skill at all to get the thrill of sliding down a hill," Fletcher said.

Wachusett Mountain

This year, the Princeton hill opens to the public with a new teaching area, according to Meyers.

Whittier's Teaching Meadow is a new zone with a carpet lift at the top of the Monadnock ski lift at Wachusett Mountain.

At the base of the mountain, a new restaurant called O'Briens will open on the main deck of the lodge for outdoor dining, he said.

Meyers said the mountain also continues to benefit from snow machines that were updated two years ago with increases to the water-pumping capacity.

Lift tickets are $71 on holidays and weekends, $65 on weekdays. Meyers said folks can secure lower prices by buying in advance, skiing at night, buying half-day tickets or purchasing packages.

"It's going to be a cold and snowy winter," he said. "That's the news we want to hear."

Bradford Mountain

Lift tickets at Bradford in Haverhill cost $55 on weekends, $37 on weekdays. Tickets for learning areas only are $25 and under. The mountain also offers night and part-day rates.

Ski Ward Ski Area

The Shrewsbury slope offers nine trails, four lifts and eight tubing lanes. Lift tickets for ages 6 and older are $35-$39 weekdays; $49-$55 Saturday, holidays and vacation weeks; and $49-$55 Sundays; ages 5 and under are $10 every day.

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @ElizDobbins