Unofficial Gore Mountain Guide
by Ski the East
with assistance from Doghouse
Gore Mountain is underappreciated outside New York/New Jersey. Judged against its East Coast peers, Gore is a big mountain (both in terms of vertical drop and in terms of total trails), with a variety of different types of terrain for all types of skiers. When Gore has most of its terrain open, even large holiday crowds disperse across the mountain, resulting in reasonable lift line waits (with the possible exception of the Northwoods Gondola). Gore Mountain is ½ hour from I-87 (Adirondack Northway) Exits 23 and 25.
This guide provides a survey of the facilities and programs available at Gore Mountain, along with trail choice suggestions for all levels of skiers to help folks who are new to the mountain enjoy their first few visits to Gore. It may be easier to follow the trail recommendations provided in this guide if you also have the Gore Mountain trail map available.
Part One—Overview of Gore Mountain Facilities and Services
There are three lodges. The Northwoods Lodge and Base Lodge are at the base of the mountain. The Saddle Lodge is on the mountain, near the drop off points for the Adirondack Express triple chair and the North Quad. There is also a warming hut at the top of the mountain, just above The Rumor (a steep double black diamond trail).
The Northwoods Lodge contains the rental shop, ski school, and ski waxing/repair shop. If your skis need a quick wax + tune the guys and girls in Gore’s repair shop do a good job. I have also been pleased with repairs they have made to my skis (ptex for core shots, fixing bent edges, etc.). I am not a racer, so I cannot say whether the shop provides a high quality race tune. There are bathrooms, lockers and a changing area in the Northwoods Lodge, but most people set up shop in the Base Lodge.
The Base Lodge contains the cafeteria, a pub/restaurant, bathrooms, a small retail shop, an information booth, lockers and many, many high school cafeteria-type tables. The lodge is big (there are two levels) so there is enough room for everyone on all but the most crowded of days. Tables are ordinarily shared, please don’t try to “claim” or “hold” a table when you’re not using it. The Base Lodge also has a decent sized deck with lots of chairs and picnic tables. Gore fires up the grills and serves burgers, dogs and beer on the deck on nice days.
The food in the Base Lodge cafeteria is decent, and only a bit overpriced. I recommend the chili (it isn’t particularly spicy). The food in the pub is also decent.
The Saddle Lodge has a cafeteria line, a fireplace, nice views, bathrooms and a water fountain. The food is similar to the Base Lodge cafeteria, but the selection is more limited because the Saddle Lodge is much smaller than the Base Lodge. It can be difficult to find an open table in the Saddle Lodge on cold days because lots of people stop in to warm up.
Ski School and Lessons
My son has taken lessons at Gore’s ski school in the seasonal lesson (Mountain Adventure) program for the past four years. We have been pleased with all of his instructors and with his progress. For your convenience, I have included links to Gore’s ski school/ski lessons web pages:
Kids Lessons: http://www.goremountain.com/lessons-rentals/kids.cfm
Teen to Adult Programs: http://www.goremountain.com/lessons-rentals/ages.cfm
Adult Only Programs: http://www.goremountain.com/lessons-rentals/adult.cfm
Gore Mountain Quirks
Every mountain has its quirks. Here are a few of Gore’s (in no particular order):
- Trails that do not have snowmaking and are not groomed are referred to as “glades” on Gore’s web site/trail map. Designated tree skiing areas are also called glades. Regardless of their flavor (natural trail or tree skiing), Gore’s glades are some of Gore’s best trails when there is adequate natural snow.
- Snowboarders beware, there are a few areas at Gore that require long traverses. They are: (1) the Lower Cloud Traverse (which includes the area between the bottom of Ruby Run and the Saddle Lodge), (2) the Pipeline Traverse to the North Creek Ski Bowl, (3) the Cedars Traverse to Burnt Ridge Mountain, and (4) the traverse from the top of the Straightbrook Quad to Lies. This guide provides tips on how to avoid some of the traverses (so read on...).
- Cave Glades (off Ruby Run) has a natural stone “fort” on skiers right that kids love to play in. Be careful, the rocks can be slippery in ski boots. I do not advise permitting kids to ski off the top of the fort (the landing is too flat and there is the possibility of hitting a tree). Cave Glades is challenging for intermediate skiers/boarders under good conditions, and potentially dangerous in less-than-ideal (icy) conditions. If you’re comfortable in the Pinebrook Glades or Straightbrook Glades, then you should be okay in the Cave Glades.
- Gore’s web site tends to over-report the number of trails that are going to be opened. This is particularly true for glades. Gore could improve their reporting by identifying trails that are only expected to open in the afternoon, or trails that may or may not be opened, based on the judgment of the ski patrol.
- Cellular phone service is sketchy at Gore. It is best at the very top of the mountain. Expect poor service and dropped calls regardless of the carrier you use. If you need to keep in touch with your kids, walkie talkies tend to work better than cellular phones.
- Gore does not ordinarily run all of the lifts or open all of the trails midweek, except on holidays or for big storm days that draw a crowd. Trail choices may be limited midweek.
Part Two—Trail Recommendations
Never skied before? Gore has plenty of gentle learning slopes near the lodge, and offers both one- and two-day Discover Skiing/Snowboarding programs that include lift tickets, lessons and rentals in a discounted package. Check out this page for the details: http://www.goremountain.com/lessons-rentals/ages.cfm. My niece attended the program for new skiers and had a great time with her instructor/group.
For beginners, there are both a poma lift and a double chair that are dedicated primarily to serving the beginner trails. Start with either the J-Bar poma lift serving the Starting Gate trail, or the Sunway double chair, located just outside the Northwoods Lodge where the ski school and ski/snowboard rentals are located.
When you’re comfortable skiing the trails off the Sunway Double chair, try the trails I recommend for low-intermediate skiers. If you are reasonably athletic and take a lesson or two, it may only take a couple of days of skiing to progress from beginner to intermediate.
Beginners can also practice their skills on the Village Slope at the North Creek Ski Bowl when the Ski Bowl is open. Skiing from the Gore Mountain lodge area to the North Creek Ski Bowl would be a chore for beginners. Driving is probably the better option.
In addition to the facilities described above, Gore’s ski school has a “magic carpet” and a poma lift that are used for lessons.
Low Intermediate Skiers/Boarders
Low-intermediate skiers have additional options that include the Adirondack Express high speed triple chair (the Adirondack Express can be a very cold ride if it's windy), or the Northwoods Gondola (a sheltered ride, but the line for the Gondola can be long at times). From the location where the Gondola drops you off, ski Ruby Run down to the Saddle Lodge area, which is where the Adirondack Express triple chair unloads.
From there, you can either ski Sunway back down to the base lodge, or you can ski the Pete Gay trail off of the North Quad lift (another chairlift that unloads near the Saddle Lodge).
The big holiday crowds tend to ski Sunway and the intermediate trails that branch off of Sunway. Skiing the trails served by the North Quad lift is a good way to avoid the holiday crowds. Once you've skied a couple of runs on Pete Gay, give Powder Pass a try, it's an easy blue square trail. The Sleeping Bear and Tahawus trails (also served by the North Quad) are a bit tougher. Unfortunately, the North Quad trails are one of the last sets of trails Gore makes snow on, so the North Quad isn't always open for the Christmas holiday.
Intermediate skiers who like long blue cruisers are in for a treat at Gore. From the base area, take either the Northwoods Gondola or the Adirondack Express high speed triple chair. From the Northwoods Gondola dropoff point, take Ruby Run (beginner trail) or Fox Lair (a steep intermediate trail) down past the Saddle Lodge to Twister, Showcase or Quicksilver. The Adirondack Express triple chair drops you off near the Saddle Lodge.
Enjoy arcing big turns down Twister (Twister is often closed for racing on weekends), Showcase or Quicksilver on your way back down to the base lodge area. Consider skiing Sleeping Bear and Tahawus off the North Quad lift when Twister, Showcase and Quicksilver have big holiday crowds.
Other options for intermediates include taking the Northwoods Gondola from the base of the mountain, then using the Pine Knot trail (a steep intermediate trail) to access the Straightbrook Quad chairlift. Intermediates can make big loops by skiing the Cloud or Upper Steilhang trails to the Headwaters trail, which will return you to the Straightbrook Quad.
Skiing the Cloud trail on a clear day provides beautiful views of the Adirondacks, including Whiteface and the other high peaks. Off Headwaters, give the Mica Park trail a try for variety, it’s a fun, quirky little run that may challenge you a bit.
Intermediates can get their first glade skiing experience in Otter Slide Glades (top left side of the map below), which are off Sunway, directly across from where the Sunway double chair drops you off.
Proceed with caution and make lots of turns to keep your speed under control.
Upper Intermediate Skiers/Boarders
Upper intermediates can ski/board all of the intermediate trails described above, or could head over to the Burnt Ridge high speed quad. It can be a chore to get over to the Burnt Ridge Quad, especially when the Twister trail is closed for racing (which is a fairly common occurrence on weekends). When Twister is open, take the Adirondack Express high speed triple chair up to the Saddle Lodge area. From there, take Twister and watch the left side of the trail for a small sign that says "Twister's Little Sister." Use Twister's Little Sister to cut over to the Echo trail. Once you're on Echo, gain as much speed as you can, because you're going to need it on the lengthy Cedars Traverse that brings you to the Burnt Ridge Quad.
The Burnt Ridge Quad serves the Echo and Sagamore trails, along with a number of glades. Start by skiing Echo (remember to gain speed at the bottom of Echo to make the traverse back to the lift easier), then give Sagamore a try. Yes, the Sagamore trail is labeled a black diamond, but when it has been groomed, its difficulty is on par with Fox Lair, Pine Knott or Echo, which are all blue square trails. By skiing Sagamore (instead of Echo), you will avoid a lengthy traverse back to the Burnt Ridge Quad. To avoid a long traverse when you leave the Burnt Ridge area, either (1) take Echo to Twister's Little Sister, or (2) where the Burnt Ridge Quad drops you off (at the top of Sagamore) take the back way out, which leads you through Tahawus Glades to the North Quad. Then, take the North Quad up to the Saddle Lodge area. Skiing down to the base lodge from the Saddle Lodge area is more fun and requires less effort than the traverse at the bottom of Burnt Ridge. The opportunity to ski Tahawus glades is an added bonus.
Glades for Upper Intermediate Skiers/Boarders
Upper intermediate skiers who want to work on their glade skiing should start with Otter Slide Glades, Chatterbox Glades or Tahawus Glades (the glades are listed in order of difficulty, from easiest to most difficult) when those glades are open. For a tougher challenge, try Twister Glades (which can also be used to access the Burnt Ridge Quad), Pinebrook Glades, Kill Kare Glades, Darby Woods or High Pines Glades. When you are comfortable in Pinebrook Glades and Darby Woods, move on to Cave Glades, Chatiemac Glades and Straightbrook Glades.
Black Diamond Trails for Upper Intermediates
Upper intermediate skiers who want to test themselves on some reasonably steep black diamond trails can start with Topridge and Uncas, which are immediately visible when you exit the Gondola. Topridge and Uncas are served by the Topridge Triple Chair, one of the longer rides on the mountain.
The Topridge Triple can be a long, cold ride on a windy day. When you’re comfortable skiing Topridge and Uncas, try Hawkeye and Chatiemac off the Straight Brook Quad, or Hullabaloo and Lower Darby off the High Peaks Double Chair.
Bumps/Moguls for Upper Intermediates
To practice your bump skiing, ski Sagamore (off the Burnt Ridge Quad) when it’s bumped up, or (assuming Hawkeye has been groomed) ski Hawkeye down and around, until you reach the lift line for the Straightbrook Quad, then ski the bumps under the Straightbrook Quad lift. Next try the bumps on Hawkeye (when it has not been groomed) or Chatiemac.
When there is good natural snow, Gore is a fantastic place for advanced skiers. There are only a few trails at Gore that will challenge the experts, but advanced skiers have many good options to choose from. Below I identify the best trails for advanced skiers off each lift.
The Rumor, Lies, Double Barrel, Hawkeye, Chatiemac, Straightbrook Glades and Chatiemac Glades can all be accessed via the Straightbrook Quad.
The Rumor (skied from the top of the headwall) and the “skinny” barrel of Double Barrel are legitimate double-diamond trails if you’re looking for a challenge. Lies also has a steep, sustained pitch. When the ski patrol put out an “experts only” sign in the middle of any of these trails, or partially rope off the trail and put up an “experts only” sign at the entrance, it usually means the trail is icy, so beware.
Rumor in ideal conditions (photo by kgbudz)
There are a large number of orange “ski area boundary” signs to skier’s right in the Chatiemac Glades. There is a good reason for this, so please heed the warning. If you ski out of bounds and you don’t know where you are going, you will end up in the Siamese Ponds wilderness area, in waist-deep snow, with no slope/gravity to help you ski out. Gore’s ski patrol does not take kindly to 911 calls from the Siamese Ponds wilderness area (if your cell phone works at all—reception is generally poor except at the very top of the mountain).
High Peaks Double Chair
Off the High Peaks double chair Hullabaloo, Lower Darby, Darkside Glades and Darby Woods are all fun trails that should be well within the abilities of an advanced skier.
Hullabaloo and Lower Darby are good choices for mixed groups that include intermediates/upper intermediates when they are not bumped. The entrance to Darby Woods is further down Cloud from the entrance to Lower Darby, it can be difficult to see. There is an entrance to the Darkside Glades near the top of Lower Steilhang.
Mineshaft Glades (can be reached via Open Pit or Upper Darby) is one of the steepest glades at Gore Mountain. Be careful when you exit Mineshaft Glades, it exits onto a trail and skiers on the trail may not see you until it is too late. You will end up at the Straightbrook Quad if you ski Mineshaft Glades.
If you’re looking for a test, Lower Steilhang and Upper Darby are legitimate double diamonds. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly innocuous beginning to Lower Steilhang, there is a steep drop about ½ way down the trail.
Topridge, Uncas, High Pines Glades and Cave Glades can be accessed via the Topridge Triple.
To get to Cave Glades, from the area where the Gondola and Topridge Triple drop you off take Ruby Run (a green circle trail) and stay to the left, looking for the sign for Cave Glades. Don’t go too fast or you will ski right by the entrance to Cave Glades. Getting into Cave Glades requires a short climb, but it’s worth it.
Burnt Ridge Quad
The Burnt Ridge Quad provides access to the Sagamore trail, Cirque Glades, Sagamore Glades and Barkeater Glades.
Sagamore is lots of fun when it’s bumped. Cirque and Barkeater Glades are looong glades. Each is at least a mile long, and Cirque may be the longest glade in the Northeast. Be careful when you ski the Cirque or Sagamore Glades for the first time. There is a small stream that runs through both glades that you can cross either by jumping over, or by skiing across a narrow bridge. The depression/stream are not easy to see until you are very close to them. If you are moving quickly, you may get surprised (yes, I speak from experience).
Hudson Chair (at the North Creek Ski Bowl)
The easiest way to get to the North Creek Ski Bowl (and the Hudson Chair) is by skiing Barkeater Glades off the Burnt Ridge Quad. When you exit Barkeater Glades, cross the bridge that will be down approximately 100 yards on your left and ski the Moxham trail down to the ski bowl. The other option is the Pipeline Traverse from the bottom of the North Quad. There must be good natural snow for the Hudson Chair to open.
Off the Hudson Chair ski the 46’er trail, Hudson Glades and Ski Bowl Glades. The ski bowl is low elevation skiing, but the woods offer some of the best powder stashes after a big snow storm. The Hudson Chair is a good choice on windy days, or on mornings in the spring when the snow re-froze overnight.
Best choices are Rumor (especially when it is open from the very top), Double Barrel and Lies off the Straightbrook Chair. Upper Darby, Lower Steilhang, Mineshaft Glades and Darkside Glades off the High Peaks Double Chair. High Pines Glades off the Topridge Triple. The long glades off the Burnt Ridge Quad are also a lot of fun when they are open (not particularly difficult, but fun to ski through at speed—but see my warning about the stream you have to cross in Cirque and Sagamore Glades).
Skied aggressively, the lift line under the High Peaks Chair (which is part of the Dark Side Glades) can be one of the most exciting runs on the mountain. There are a couple of jumps that provide the opportunity for relatively “big” air. Since the run is directly under the lift line you will have an appreciative audience, so don’t screw up. The same can be said for High Pines Glades under the Topridge Triple—depending on how you ski it, it can be very mellow, or a challenge.
There is a junior terrain park for learners on Jibland behind the main lodge. It is served by the J-Bar poma lift (the kids often walk back up rather than skiing over to the poma lift). The bigger (mostly medium sized) features, including rails, boxes and jumps are on Wild Air, which is directly under the Northwoods Gondola (can be accessed via the Gondola, or the Adirondack Express triple chair). The North Creek Ski Bowl has a half pipe.
I hope this guide helps you enjoy your first few visits to Gore Mountain. If you have questions about Gore, post 'em in the forums and I'll do my best to answer, or get answers to your questions.