Ski New York: Bright lights and snowy slopes

13th February 2015 | Monica Adorno

Resorts in this article: Gore Mountain, Killington Resort, Mount Snow, Smugglers' Notch Resort, Sugarbush, Whiteface Mountain Resort

Powder skier at Smugglers' Notch, Vermont.

Powder skier at Smugglers' Notch, Vermont.

Copyright: Smugglers' Notch

New York City provides round-the-clock entertainment; be it shopping, theatre, or world-class food. And in case you didn’t know, you can ski there too. 

Mythical, grand, glorious and brutal, New York City has a whopper of a reputation. Few, if any, other cities in the world possess its character and energy. But what a lot of non-locals don’t know is that New York is home to the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. Translation: You can ski there! And just over the state border is Vermont – home to some of the East Coast's major mountain resorts.

Our Ski New York guide combines a city break in NYC with skiing in the nearby mountains of New York and Vermont. We explore Whiteface Mountain, Gore Mountain, Smugglers' Notch, Sugarbush Resort, Mount Snow, Killington and Stowe Mountain Resort.

WHITEFACE MOUNTAIN, NY

If skiing’s what counts, go to Whiteface Mountain. A two-time host of the Winter Olympic Games, Whiteface offers the chance to ski down unremittingly steep Olympic courses. The area has a bit of a reputation for frigid temperatures and icy terrain but for confident skiers with sharp skis maintaining control just adds to the thrill. Among Whiteface’s (nicknamed Iceface) best qualities are The Slides which comprise 35 acres of side country that include a frozen waterfall and heaps of boulders. If conditions are right, and you’re good enough, you can ski right down the waterfall – pretty sweet.

Whiteface also lays claim to the East coast’s greatest vertical drop at 3,430 feet (1,045m). It’s a big mountain with plenty of diverse terrain that includes steep fall line, cliffs, New England style winding trails and lots of marked glades. The longest run is the Wilmington Trail at 2.1 miles. 

As for extra-curriculars, the resort has bagged Ski Magazine’s No.1 spot for off-hill activities for 20 consecutive years. Non-skiing thrills include speed skating on the Olympic oval, elevator rides to the top of the 120-metre ski jump and bobsled rides at Mt. Van Hoevenberg.

For chilling and eating, the very lovely Lake Placid is only ten miles away and offers a wealth of dining and après-ski options. Particularly good is the award-winning Lake Placid Pub and Brewery which serves traditional pub grub and melt in your mouth s’mores.

Transport from NYC: Driving time: 289 miles/5hrs15. From NYC, take the New York State Thruway (I-87) north to Exit 24 (Albany). Take I-87 north (Adirondack Northway) to Exit 30. Pick up Route 9 north and follow for two miles to Route 73. Continue on Route 73 for 28 miles to Lake Placid.

Group looks out over whiteface

Copyright: Whiteface Mountain Resort

GORE MOUNTAIN, NY

One of our favourites is Gore Mountain in pretty North Creek which if it dumped more regularly here would garner a lot more attention. That being said, Gore is famous in these parts for its 2,100-foot vertical drop and for its varied terrain which caters to all styles and levels.

The lower mountain has long green and blue trails which are perfect for cruising; Twister’s the widest and is especially good although it tends to be closed on weekends. Ruby Run is a charming trail for beginners, and Fox Lair, which is steeper, is a worthy challenge for intermediate skiers. Experienced skiers and riders should tackle The Rumour and Lies off the Straightbrook Chair, both of which are legitimately steep. And if you’re lucky enough to be here after a big snowstorm the woods by Hudson Chair offer some excellent powder stashes.

Gore is a bit thin on the ground in terms of après-ski. Worth a visit is the newly renovated Tannery Pub and Restaurant where you can unwind while sat in booths created from the red gondola cabins. For grub on the mountain head to the Saddle Lodge, or, for more variety, ski down to Base Lodge.

Transport from NYC: Driving time: 235 miles/4hrs15. To reach Gore Mountain take I-87 (the Northway) to Exit 25 (Chestertown). Follow Route 8 west for 11 miles. Turn right in Wevertown on Route 28; proceed north to 793 Peaceful Valley Road. Alternatively, Amtrak offers a rail service to Saratoga Springs, from there you can board the new Gore Mountain Snow Train directly to North Creek.

Glade skiing at Gore Mountain, New York

Copyright: Gore Mtn

SMUGGLERS' NOTCH, VT

Smuggs is billed as one of the best family-friendly resorts in North America. But we think their marketing folk are selling Ol’ Smuggles short. Smuggs isn’t just family-friendly, it’s people-friendly – heck, it’s freaking Disney Land on a big beautiful white mountain.

Upon arrival the resort hands you a shiny booklet – 50 pages filled with activities with something for the entire brood. Snow related activities include cross-country skiing, snow-mobile touring, dog-sledding, a dessert snowshoe trek, and air-boarding, to name but a few. New for this season is a very cool program for older teenagers which includes ice climbing, backcountry snowshoeing or winter outdoor survival tips. For downtime, there’s a heated indoor pool and hot tub.

But what about the skiing? Don’t let that fuzzy feeling fool you, Smuggs is made up of over 1,000 acres which span three big mountains and is home to some genuinely tricky and technical terrain. The Black Hole is a thickly gladed run which requires a bit of know-how (focus on the openings, not the woods, and dive through them), and balls of steel.

Other recommended glades include the expert level Shakedown and the Knight’s Revenge Terrain Park. Easy greens can be found at Morse Highlands on Morse Mountain while Sterling and Madonna are geared towards advanced skiers and riders.

Given that the resort does in fact focus on the family market there are many options for food and drink. The Pizzeria and the Mountain Grill will suit the kids perfectly while the more upmarket Hearth & Candle has both a cosy atmosphere for families and white-table cloth dining for adults only. 

Transport from NYC: Driving time: 342 miles/6hrs. To get to Smuggs take Exit 10 I-89 in Waterbury, VT. Follow Vermont Rte. 100N through Stowe to Morrisville. In Morrisville, pick up Rte. 15W through Johnson to Jeffersonville. In Jeffersonville, pick up Rte. 108S. The Resort is located about 5 miles from Jeffersonville on the left.

Family-friendly Smugglers' Notch, Vermont

Copyright: Smugglers' Notch

SUGARBUSH RESORT, VT

Sugarbush is so good we almost want to keep it secret. But, being the wonderful human beings that we are, we’ll share the love (plus it isn’t that much of a secret anyway).

Located along the Mad River Valley the resort is made up of two mountains: Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, and has ample terrain (more than nearby Stowe and just as good) spread across six interconnecting peaks. When it first opened, the Bush was very glamorous attracting the likes of The Kennedy’s and other high profile celebs but the glitterati crowd soon dispersed which is just as well as it meant Sugarbush was able to avoid crass restaurant chains and the rest of the hoi-polloi. Today, the resort’s style is that of quintessential Vermont; think clapboard farmhouses, Dutch barns, and artisan shops.

Sugarbush’s diverse terrain includes steep deeps, quiet glades, bumps, parks, and perfectly groomed corduroy trails. Castlerock Peak, home to some serious pro terrain, offers extreme, ungroomed runs and some 20 wooded trails while Cadd Peak is geared towards intermediates. Recommended glades include Egan’s Woods and Eden. Or for something more chilled, head to North Lynx Peak where you’ll find novice terrain and relaxing runs

Easy to reach lodging, a rad lift-system, and on-the-mountain après is the icing on the cake. Check out Chez Henri’s Back Room and the Slidebrook Tavern.

Transport from NYCDriving time: 307 miles/6hrs. To get there from New York, take the I-89 north to Exit 9/Middlesex to Route 100b. Follow 100b to 100 South through Waitsfield, and turn right onto the Sugarbush Access Road.

Two skiers make their way down the mountain at Sugarbush Resort, Vermont

Copyright: Sugarbush

MOUNT SNOW, VT

We like Mount Snow considerably, not least for its convenient location. The layout is simple, the resort is almost completely snow-sure, and for cruising on wide groomers, you can’t get much better.

Yes, it’s a fine mountain, and all within easy reach of the East Coast’s major cities. That’s all very well and good, but actually Stratton’s cruisers are pretty great too. So why Snow? It’s simple; Snow surpasses all other resorts when it comes to park terrain. Eight areas (10 if you count the mega pipes) are packed with rails, jumps, and cliffs – they make up the largest terrain park system in the North East and are all located on Snow’s Carinthia face. You’ll find street-style setups, barrel-bonks, an all-natural jib park at Prospect, and jumps ranging from 15 to 70 feet - all that creativity makes for an excellent shredding session. As for freeriding, it’s better than average with some challenging blacks such as Ripcord, Freefall and Olympic, which you can find off the North Face.

For rocking après, Cuzzins in the Main Base Lodge has live music on Saturdays and also during the holiday weeks.  

Transport from NYC: Driving time: 217 miles/4hrs25. The resort can be found on Route 100 (nine miles from Route 9 in Wilmington and 29 miles from Interstate 91), just 2.5 hours from Boston and 4 hours from New York City.

A pair of skiers stretching their legs on the wide slopes of Mt Snow, VT

Copyright: Mt Snow

KILLINGTON, VT

The Beast from the East draws a lot of flak for attracting gapers and is sometimes referred to as K-Mart. But nicknames aside, Killington offers decent skiing and riding on extensive and varied terrain. The resort is situated in central Vermont and spans six peaks (seven if you include the lovely Pico Mountain). Killington Peak is the highest at 4,241 feet (1,293m); the others include Skye Peak, Ramshead Peak, Snowdon Peak, Bear Mountain Peak, and Sunrise Mountain Peak.

The reason for the crowds? The freeride is good, the freestyle at The Stash is excellent, and there are pistes to suit every level of skier and rider. There are steeps, classic winding trails, and plenty of mogul fields. The vertical drop is 3,050 feet (930m), although that final 1,000 feet is questionable, and the longest run is six miles. There is also good straight down the fall line by The Double Dipper.  

Beginners should board the K1 –Express Gondola which will whisk them to the mountain’s summit where they can practice sliding on easy greens. High Traverse, Great Northern and Home Run are all nice runs for newbies which offer panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.

As for the après, it’s legendary according to OnTheSnow visitors who rated the resort’s nightlife No.1 in the North East: Read OTS Visitors’ favourite nightlife.

Transport from NYC: Driving time: 270 miles/5hrs10. Killington is located 12 miles east of Rutland, Vt. Rutland and Albany, N.Y., have the closest airports. New York City and Boston are also within driving distance.

Freeskiers coming down while a gondola goes up at Killington VT

STOWE MOUNTAIN RESORT, VT

Home to Vermont’s highest peak, Stowe is one of the East Coast’s major mountain resorts. It is renowned for its impeccably maintained groomer-cruisers and also, increasingly, for its reliable snow quality. The emphasis for the last few years has been on being able to deliver the snowy goods and to achieve that end Stowe has continued to pump cash into its snowmaking facilities.

The mountain comprises six distinct areas; Spruce Peak is the more chilled of the six with terrain suitable for beginners and intermediates while Mount Mansfield is where you’ll find the “Front Four” - a group of challenging double-black diamond trails. If you enjoy bumps there are some steep ones to be found on Goat, otherwise head to Star which is steep and ungroomed. Hire a guide or make friends with a local so that they can show you where the really good backcountry is.

When it comes to slopeside amenities, Stowe has nailed it. In addition to all of the necessities there are several wellness centres and spas to make you feel warm and rejuvenated. For lunch, head to the rustic yet elegant Cliff House, situated on the shoulder of Mount Mansfield, which serves regional American cuisine.

Transport from NYC: Driving time: 342 miles/6hrs20. Stowe is located a few miles north of Waterbury Exit 10 on I-89.

The quintessential Vermont Main Street in Stowe.

Copyright: Stowe Mountain Resort

 

 

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