The only way to get through a New England winter with a smile on your face is to find something you love about it- and for me, skiing is the thing I love. I strongly encourage anyone stuck here for the winter (i.e., all of you) to get out and enjoy the mountains.
Select Mountains of New England
My goal is not to give you a complete list of all the places to ski in New England- you have the Internet for that. Instead, I am going to hit my personal favorites. This should also give you a good range to choose from.
Also, conditions this year have been terrible so far. Hopefully that will change over the next month, but you should set your expectations accordingly. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to check conditions at the mountain’s website before you get in the car.
Killington (Killington, VT) is the granddaddy of eastern skiing. Killington makes a point of opening first and closing last, and is the largest resort in the East. The size of the mountain guarantees something for everyone, and the vast extent of their snowmaking ensures pretty good conditions. When springtime comes, you will see some great mogul skiing on Killington’s Bear Mountain. On the down side, it tends to get pretty crowded on holidays and weekends, and the tickets aren’t cheap at $58.
Sugarbush (Waitsfield, VT) changed hands this year, but the experience should remain the same. Sugarbush gives you a sense of what skiing was like in the olden days, with narrower and more naturally cut trails, less snow making, and some older chairlifts. The layout of the mountain has plenty of twists and turns – making an already big mountain seem even bigger. Add to that the great friendly atmosphere and this is one of my favorites.
Mad River Glen (Waitsfield, VT) is a true anachronism. They still don’t allow snowboarding (sorry), and have the only single chairlift that I have had the pleasure of riding. There is very limited snowmaking at Mad River, but when the conditions are right, the limited lift capacity means that you can have great runs throughout the day. The character of this place comes out in the low ticket prices and the fact that there is usually someone in the parking lot selling maple syrup from their own trees.
Stratton (Stratton, VT) attracts more than its share of the New York/New Jersey ski crowd, owing to its position in southern Vermont. At the opposite extreme from Mad River, Stratton boasts several “Six Packs”- six-person chair lifts. My only complaint with Stratton is that they have built more lift capacity than the mountain can handle-as a result, the trails can get too crowded, and the snow gets skied off by midday on busy days. If you have a day off on a weekday, though, Stratton’s high-speed lifts will guarantee you all the vertical feet you can handle.
Cannon (Franconia, NH) is just over 2 hours north, and is relatively inexpensive at only $32 midweek and $44 on weekends. With this mountain, what you see is what you get-all the runs come down the front side. The tram runs from the parking lot to the top, and the crowds are usually pretty light, so if you like speed you can have a great time riding the tram up and then racing it back down.
Loon (Lincoln, NH) is also right up there by Cannon, about 2 hours away. Loon seems to be suffering from the sins of Stratton-trying to pack too much skiing onto a modest-sized mountain. Still, they have more and better services than Cannon, which makes this a good choice for a family day trip.
Wachusett (Princeton, MA). About an hour west, Wachusett is not bad for Massachusetts skiing. They have full night skiing coverage, tons of snowmaking, a hopping aprŠs-ski scene for the high school set.
Sugarloaf/USA (Kingfield, ME) is waaaaay far north-like 4 1/2 hours. As a result, it has the only lift-served above tree line skiing in the East, and holds snow until late in the season (June, at the least). With 2,820 feet in vertical, and 240 inches in annual snowfall, Sugarloaf/USA is almost certain to give you a good ski (or ride). Sugarloaf/USA is not for the faint of heart – but I would recommend it for a weekend trip.
Sunday River (Bethel, ME) Only 3 1/2 hours away, Sunday River has worked hard over the past decade to build itself into a real destination resort, with 127 trails, extensive snowmaking, and a brand-new hotel/resort/condo complex. They tend to have great ski and stay deals throughout the winter, so keep an eye out.