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Help me pick my NH/VT/ME destination

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi Yall.

 

Oldie here getting back on the slopes after a layoff of a few years. A buddy and I are trying to plan up a ski trip during the last week of Feb and we arent quite sure where to go. This is mostly due to be not really hitting the slopes in 3-4 years and not knowing whats new and exciting out there. When I was hitting it a few years ago, I enjoyed the Conway/302 area in the Whites for no other reason than thats where I always went; Cranmore, Bretton Woods, Loon, etc. I never really ventured over into VT because it was a bit further than I wanted to go from my house in MA, Okemo or Mt Snow was still a good half hour/45 mins further than anyplace here, so we just stuck to NH. With that said, Im willing to venture out a bit further than my normal hills to get something new, so here is where you all come in.

First my skill level WAS pretty darn good. I had no problems hitting the glades at Bretton Woods or Sunday River and felt pretty confident on the blacks at most of the places we went, but that was several years and more pounds than I want to admit to ago and my buddy is probably a bit below me. Im not talking doing massive jumps or moguls or anything like that, but steeps dont faze me. Anyway, we went up to the WaWa before Christmas and he was biting the dust while I was just cruising around, frankly getting bored with the one trail that was open :P Although his wiping out was probably more due to rust than anything else. Im fairly confident with my rusty skills to be able to ski pretty much 80% of the terrain in New England, really only limited by my out of shape legs.

Here is the criteria we are looking for, these are based on me wanting to check it out, price and distance. We will probably be going up for 2 full days of skiing and likely one overnight. Plan is hit the road by 7 drive no more than 3:00, ski all day, stay night ski most next day and come home that afternoon. We may be able to hit the road earlier than 7 if my wife can drop our daughter off at school rather than me, but Im not counting on that right now. We are probably doing this mid week too

 

If we go to VT:

MRG:

Okemo

Stratton

Maybe Killington (hes been there a bunch so may want to forget about this)

 

ME?

Sugarloaf

 

Or if we stay to NH again, Canon and Bretton woods does a back to back day with buy one pass, get the second free.

 

Right now, Im leaning MRG if the conditions are OK, Stratton, Okemo, in that order, then the Loaf if we can get a good deal on lift/lodge and leave early enough (or even the night before), then our Cannon/BW plan only pulling up the rear because we want to hit something new.

 

So, first, how are these places skiing this year? I know the snow has been hit or miss.

If you were skiing in the middle to upper skill ranges, say 60-75 percentiles, where would YOU want to spend your hard earned vacation time after all the kids head back to school after vacation week?

post #2 of 16

Sugarloaf and Saddleback, ME (a day each) might be very fun.  Both have something for every skill level and have greatly expanded tree skiing in recent years.  Don't know about current conditions. 

I stayed at a very cheap hostel up near there last year, but you might want something a little more upscale.  It's so cheap you could drive up the night before and stay two nights.  You should have both ski areas and the hostel all to yourself during midweek.

Maine Roadhouse Hostel:

http://www.maineroadhouse.com/

post #3 of 16

Stratton and Okemo and Mt Snow are all very nice but a bit tame.  Stratton is a bit spendy with lots of fur trimmed new yorkers.  Okemo is Groomer Zoomer heaven but can get crowded.  Mt Snow is a great Mt and easy to get to.  Kids and crowds.  Kton is not far from Okemo and offers a LOT of territory and great Apres options.

 

If you go a bit farther up, You are in BURKE, Wildcat and Loon territory.  Burke is a really cool Mt and VERY reasonable.  STEEP.  WIDE.  Woods.  A little hidden gem IMO.  Racer oriented.

 

Stowe is very very classy.  Really nice.  Worth the trip.

 

Hope this helps.

post #4 of 16

Wildcat, just above N. Conway is a very nice mountain with classic winding trails and has (I think) a 2 for one sometime during the week as well as a hookup with at least one of the other mountains in that area

post #5 of 16

Right now, MRG is closed due to the recent thaw.  Obviously with some snow, they'll open right back up, but MRG is always the most "questionable" place in terms of conditions.  MRG is also wildly different then any other place you mentioned (Bretton Woods, Loon, Cannon, WaWa).  If you're not interested in moguls, I'm not sure why you'd be interested in going there at all.  If your friend was having difficulty with the early season conditions at Wachusett, frankly he'd be scared out of his mind with most of the terrain at MRG.

 

I think the various areas of southern Vermont (Mt. Snow, Okemo, Stratton, Bromley) are all pretty similar in terms of overall pitch, trail character, etc.  Each of them are filled with fairly tame blue cruisers, but there are a few more challenging trails as well.  They each have massive snow-making capabilities as well, for some insurance of reasonably good conditions.  The exception in southern Vermont is Magic which has a nice mix of really challenging terrain and mellower cruising terrain.

post #6 of 16

Good advice so far.  Kevin is spot on; after reading your post my first thought was your buddy will not enjoy MRG. Unless you take pleasure from his pain, I suggest you look into something like Stowe or Sugarbush where you will find a great variety of terrain from ego boosting groomers to wtf did I get myself into.  

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pat View Post

Stratton and Okemo and Mt Snow are all very nice but a bit tame.  Stratton is a bit spendy with lots of fur trimmed new yorkers.  Okemo is Groomer Zoomer heaven but can get crowded.  Mt Snow is a great Mt and easy to get to.  Kids and crowds.  Kton is not far from Okemo and offers a LOT of territory and great Apres options.

 

If you go a bit farther up, You are in BURKE, Wildcat and Loon territory.  Burke is a really cool Mt and VERY reasonable.  STEEP.  WIDE.  Woods.  A little hidden gem IMO.  Racer oriented.

 

Stowe is very very classy.  Really nice.  Worth the trip.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Burke is also on the list, albeit a bit further down. I actually learned to ski there many, MANY moons ago. Back in middle and high school one of my pal's parent's had a condo up  there so we went fairly often. I did really like the mountain, it had a lot of good runs for my skill back then and is far enough away from the SNE area that all the larger resorts further south filter out most everyone from coming that far north, so there was never anyone there when we were there. Its only further down the list because Ive been there and want to check out something new. Although, I think the last time I was there was probably some time in the mid 90s so it may be long enough for it to be new to me again :)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post

Right now, MRG is closed due to the recent thaw.  Obviously with some snow, they'll open right back up, but MRG is always the most "questionable" place in terms of conditions.  MRG is also wildly different then any other place you mentioned (Bretton Woods, Loon, Cannon, WaWa).  If you're not interested in moguls, I'm not sure why you'd be interested in going there at all.  If your friend was having difficulty with the early season conditions at Wachusett, frankly he'd be scared out of his mind with most of the terrain at MRG.

 

I think the various areas of southern Vermont (Mt. Snow, Okemo, Stratton, Bromley) are all pretty similar in terms of overall pitch, trail character, etc.  Each of them are filled with fairly tame blue cruisers, but there are a few more challenging trails as well.  They each have massive snow-making capabilities as well, for some insurance of reasonably good conditions.  The exception in southern Vermont is Magic which has a nice mix of really challenging terrain and mellower cruising terrain.

 

Thanks for the tips everyone!

I was initially considering Stowe, but dang that place is expensive!  Ive found discount tickets for most of the places we are considering for maybe around $60 or less and Stowe is still over $80 a pop. Yeah, its only an extra $40 for two days, but still...thats a tank of gas to get up there!

We dont want *too* tame, looking for a bit more of a challenge.
 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post

Good advice so far.  Kevin is spot on; after reading your post my first thought was your buddy will not enjoy MRG. Unless you take pleasure from his pain, I suggest you look into something like Stowe or Sugarbush where you will find a great variety of terrain from ego boosting groomers to wtf did I get myself into.  

 

Yes, I do take much pleasure from watching him crash and burn, so MRG is still on the list :D

Tell me more about Sugarbush. Its a bit further from me than the rest, about 3:00, so I didnt really look into it that much

post #8 of 16

For a truly memorable ski experience and a huge step up from anything you've been skiing or anything in S VT I'd hit Sugarloaf for 2 days. It would be worth a little extra drive time.

By late Feb there's a great chance the snowfields will be open as well as most if not all the glades.

Sugarloaf is huge and has big time steeps both groomed and ungroomed, big sustained verticle and tons of glades all over the mountain. Lots of moderate terrain of all types as well. By late Feb if you hit it on a sunny day the whole mountain is lit up like a Christmas Tree with sunshine.

Only downside to Sugarloaf is it's very prone to windholds especially the Timberline Chair which takes you to the very top. Even if that's closed, Skyline, Superquad and King Pine lifts make it worth the trip.

IMO it's the best pure ski mountain in the East...not as much snow as Central/Northern Vermont maybe not the best lift system either. but a GREAT mountain...Worth the trip so please report back if you check it out. 

post #9 of 16

Sugarbush is a big hill with a wide variety of skiing on 3, I think, separate peaks. This includes the Castlerock chair which is a slow old double servicing classic narrow, twisty Vermont terrain with little to no grooming and no snow making.  It is similar to what you will find at MRG, which is just a10 minute drive from base to base. Then there is a connector lift to Sugarbush North, aka: Mt. Ellen, which also has a good variety of skiing and is only a couple minute drive to MRG.

post #10 of 16

if you don't care about apres, do yourself a huge favor and make the journey to Jay Peak...hands down the best skiing on the east coast (IMHO).

post #11 of 16

Overall, I agree about Jay, but you have to be willing to spend a lot of time in the trees from my experience. I'd say it's one of the best tree-skiing resorts in the country, not just the east. But when I was there a few years back, the runs had some of the most awful ice I've ever seen at a resort - not just slick, scraped hardpack but patches of six-inch thick blue ice. I thought I had a concussion after I took a dive on some of it my first run. Maybe it was just the timing, and they've invested a lot of money since then, so maybe it's better, but something to consider.

post #12 of 16
Do you want to drive or ski? If you leave "MA" (assuming Boston area) "at 7" you are not going to ski "all day" unless you are going to Pat's Peak or something. Sugarloaf and Saddleback are WAY too far for that; you wouldn't be there till noon. Get out of the house by six, go to loon like everyone else, then report back on what you did and did not like about it and THEN we'll be able to suggest good alternates. Bottom line, though: you gotta get up EARLY if you're gonna be a skier and commute from Mass.
post #13 of 16
Quote:

Originally Posted by R4D4R View Post

 

I was initially considering Stowe, but dang that place is expensive!  Ive found discount tickets for most of the places we are considering for maybe around $60 or less and Stowe is still over $80 a pop. Yeah, its only an extra $40 for two days, but still...thats a tank of gas to get up there!
 

Tell me more about Sugarbush. Its a bit further from me than the rest, about 3:00, so I didnt really look into it that much

 

Yes, Stowe is expensive, no denying that.  frown.gif

 

Sugarbush and MRG are across the street from each other.  Sugarbush, Stowe and MRG are all essentially the same distance from the Boston area.  I haven't skied Sugarbush much in recent years.  All three will offer far more challenge then anything in southern Vermont.

 

Sugarbush vs. Stowe is essentially a religious debate.  Stowe has two lifts (Fourrunner Quad and the gondola) that will both take you to the top and give you 2000+ vertical feet of uninterrupted "you need to ski it the whole way".  i.e., there's very little run-out to it.  Sugarbush has a bigger vertical drop, but it takes two chairlift rides to access it.  Both have lots of cruising terrain, lots of bump runs, lots of trees, etc.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post

 

Yes, Stowe is expensive, no denying that. 

 

You get what you pay for!

post #15 of 16
Depending on the condition and what day of the week you are going I would say Magic is not to be missed. They aren't open mid week unless it's snowing. If you are in Mass it might be closer than Okemo or anything north. It is close to Bromley. Magic has some of the best steep terrain in VT. If conditions are good it is hard to beat, it's inexpensive, good laid back skier vibe, kinda like Mad River. Ski Magic your first day, stay at Magic, if you are bored head up to Mad River or Sugarbush. I think it would take about 2.5 hours.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the tips, everyone. I have something to think about and can edit my target list as necessary. It will probably come down to how much snow falls between now and then :/

Also, just because I say Im from MA, dont assume Boston. If I leave my house at 7, I can be at Cannon at 8.45 or BW at like 9.15. Yes, Loaf is obviously too far to get there early enough for the first day and if we were to go there that morning, we would obviously go the night before. Pretty much everywhere else, we would be leaving morning of

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