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East Coast Suggestions

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I am looking for recommendations for a mid-January ski trip to the East Coast. (I have gone West for Spring Break the last few years, Breck x 2, Steamboat), but want to include my youngest daughter before she goes back to college.  I would probably fly into Boston, stay 3-4 days, at least part on a weekend. Wife is familiar with the East Coast, but not the skiing scene.  I know its probably crowded and I hate crowds --so what recommendations do you have, taking into consideration:

 

1) Is snow generally reliable in mid January ?

2) Quality of skiing ? Variety of slopes (family runs from Black to Green), but steeps/bumps not really necessary

3) Crowds and lift capacity

4) Distance from Boston airport ?

5) Availablity of on-slope or nearby lodging (not necessary , but preferred)

6) Town (restaraunts & shops)

 

Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks

post #2 of 27

General rule of thumb, the further away from Boston you go, the better the conditions will be.

 

Nearby

Loon

 

Medium

Sunday River

Bretton Woods

 

Further

Killington

Stowe

Sugarloaf

post #3 of 27

Midweek, nothing is really crowded unless it's a school vacation week.

 

How far do you want to drive? I'm partial to Sugarloaf, but it's 4 hr drive, has all the skiing you want. Not much of a town, but nice base area with enough amenities for a few days and you won't have to drive once you get there. Jay Peak is also the same distance, gets more snow, and has the new indoor waterpark.

 

If you don't want to drive too far, try Southern Vt, Mt Snow, Stratton, Okemo. 2.5 - 3 hrs from Boston. Maybe a little more crowded, but also have more amenities around. Skiing is not as challenging as Jay, Sugarloaf, Killington, Stowe, or Sugarbush (also a good option at 3.5 hrs).

post #4 of 27

In a word .. Stowe.

 

Northern Vermont gets the best and most consistent snowing New England IMHO (others I'm sure will differ :rolleyes).  January is a bit early for the best snow, but any of the New England resorts have nearly full snowmaking coverage, so you shouldn't need to worry.  Unless it's a holiday week, midweek crowds are pretty tame .. but watch out on the weekends!

 

Coming from the midwest, consider flying into Burlington (direct flights from Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit).  Stowe is a 45 minute drive from the Burlington airport.  You've got the quintessential New England town, plenty of good lodging, food and entertainment options in town and on the mountain and probably the best ski experience in New England.  Plenty of terrain from some of the best steeps in New England to blue cruisers for the family.  Lots of other options if you're not skiing .. cross country, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, etc.

 

Stowe can be pricey, but if you do your homework you can find off-mountain lodging in the area for reasonable. If Stowe's not your scene, there are plenty of other options in the area .. all within a short drive of Burlington.  Mad River Glen (old school baby!), Sugarbush and Smuggler's Notch are other options.  You could even stay in the town of Stowe and ski a different area every day .. they're all within a 45 minute drive from Stowe.

 

Back when the EpicSki Academy was still going strong, the East Coast ESA was hosted at Stowe in early December.  You'll find plenty of Bears who call Stowe home and if you ask politely can probably even arrange a private tour from one of the locals.

post #5 of 27

If you hate crowds and everyone going along is a proficient or pretty good skier I'd vote Mad River Glen.  If you're looking more for an all around Northeast ski town experience with lots for everyone then go Stowe.  Jay Peak. Smuggs, or Sugarbush would be something in between I guess

post #6 of 27

Going by the criteria in the OP, I wouldn't suggest northern VT unless you are specifically looking for off trail and challenging terrain.  You'd be driving further for something that you wouldn't be taking advantage of.

post #7 of 27

Combine Burke Mountain with Cannon Mt.  They are 40 minutes apart.  Both are uncrowded.  If it is windy or cold, opt for Burke.  It is sheltered.  It never is crowded, even on weekends.

post #8 of 27

Stowe or Sugarloaf - there will not be crowds mid-January. Conditions can vary anywhere from great to bad so if you have to lock something in, do it at a place with great snowmaking - like Sugarloaf or Stowe (which are also two of the snowiest hills on the East Coast).

post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by St Bear View Post
 

Going by the criteria in the OP, I wouldn't suggest northern VT unless you are specifically looking for off trail and challenging terrain.  You'd be driving further for something that you wouldn't be taking advantage of.

 

While northern VT has tons of challenging terrain, you can also find plenty of mellow.  The OP was talking about flying in to Boston, but if you fly into Burlington instead you're only 45 minutes away from Stowe.  Takes you that long to get out of Logan airport and on to the highway :rolleyes.  If you're only in for 3-4 days, Burlington puts you a lot closer to skiing than Boston (unless you want to ski Wachusett!)

post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midwest Skier View Post
 

I am looking for recommendations for a mid-January ski trip to the East Coast. (I have gone West for Spring Break the last few years, Breck x 2, Steamboat), but want to include my youngest daughter before she goes back to college.  I would probably fly into Boston, stay 3-4 days, at least part on a weekend. Wife is familiar with the East Coast, but not the skiing scene.  I know its probably crowded and I hate crowds --so what recommendations do you have, taking into consideration:

 

1) Is snow generally reliable in mid January ?

2) Quality of skiing ? Variety of slopes (family runs from Black to Green), but steeps/bumps not really necessary

3) Crowds and lift capacity

4) Distance from Boston airport ?

5) Availablity of on-slope or nearby lodging (not necessary , but preferred)

6) Town (restaraunts & shops)

 

Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks

1.  Yes, mid January is probably going to be fine for conditions.  Recognize that the base will be man-made, and there is always the possibility of a Jan thaw during which the snow melts and refreezes.  If this happens, they blow a few inches of fresh artificial on top and try to mince and fluff it in.

2.  You indicate that you need greens and blacks, but not steeps nor bumps.  North Conway NH, is a fine ski town with lots of local color; there are many places to stay and lots of restaurants and bars of all flavors.  It's lively in the winter.  If you stay in North Conway, you have Wildcat (classic Old New England feel with significant views), Attitash (larger; short runs but lots of variety), and Cranmore (small, family-oriented) all to ski within 10-20 minutes' dirve.  If you want to drive 45 minutes west, you have Bretton Woods (luxury groomers for vacationers - very user-friendly skiing, and if you need thrills there are graduated-difficulty glades from the ridiculously easy to difficult, but they are all short).  If you are willing to drive a full hour east, you have big Sunday River which has everything.  If you are willing to drive a full hour west, check out Cannon, just east of Bretton Woods.  It's the other New Hampshire classic New England mountain.  All these mountains enjoy different weather patterns; you can check the weather in the morning and decide at the last minute where to go for the best conditions.  

3.  Crowds are negligible during Mon-Friday at all New England mountains, except for significant holidays.  Martin Luther King day will be Monday Jan 20th; you might encounter some lines then.  Otherwise, no lines during the weekdays.  Weekends are hit and miss; Cranmore gets crowded on weekends.  When it snows Wildcat is stuffed on weekends.  

4.  North Conway is 2-3/4 hours up hwy 16 from Boston.  I live in the Boston area and drove up every winter weekend that way for 5 years; it's a nice drive.

5.  There is plenty of lodging in colorful North Conway; whatever you want you can find there.  On-slope lodging can be found at Attitash and maybe at Cranmore, but you don't need to bother.  Parking is close and free at all these places.  There is no lodging at Wildcat or Cannon, however.  Bretton Woods has the Mt. Washington Hotel, a grand old dame.

6.  There's even an outlet mall in N. Conway, and lots of additional shops nearby; two movie theaters as well.  Lots of all kinds of tourist shops.  The home of the Appalachian Mountain Club is across the highway from Wildcat.  You can visit their shop, and if you go around 6:30 any day of the year you can enjoy a family style meal with people who have been hiking nearby. This area is a hiker's paradise, and hiking doesn't stop in the winter.  There are ice-climbers too.  You might encounter very hard-core group of winter hikers there if you choose to have a meal with them after a day of skiing at Wildcat.  Check out the reviews of Wildcat - true New England skiing with narrow winding trails and stunning New England views of Mt. Washington across the street. 


Edited by LiquidFeet - 10/24/13 at 3:35pm
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by wa-loaf View Post
 

I'm partial to Sugarloaf, but it's 4 hr drive

 

What do you drive? Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang?

post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldEasternSkier View Post
 

In a word .. Stowe.

 

Northern Vermont gets the best and most consistent snowing New England IMHO (others I'm sure will differ :rolleyes).  January is a bit early for the best snow, but any of the New England resorts have nearly full snowmaking coverage, so you shouldn't need to worry.  Unless it's a holiday week, midweek crowds are pretty tame .. but watch out on the weekends!

 

Coming from the midwest, consider flying into Burlington (direct flights from Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit).  Stowe is a 45 minute drive from the Burlington airport.  You've got the quintessential New England town, plenty of good lodging, food and entertainment options in town and on the mountain and probably the best ski experience in New England.  Plenty of terrain from some of the best steeps in New England to blue cruisers for the family.  Lots of other options if you're not skiing .. cross country, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, etc.

 

Stowe can be pricey, but if you do your homework you can find off-mountain lodging in the area for reasonable. If Stowe's not your scene, there are plenty of other options in the area .. all within a short drive of Burlington.  Mad River Glen (old school baby!), Sugarbush and Smuggler's Notch are other options.  You could even stay in the town of Stowe and ski a different area every day .. they're all within a 45 minute drive from Stowe.

 

Back when the EpicSki Academy was still going strong, the East Coast ESA was hosted at Stowe in early December.  You'll find plenty of Bears who call Stowe home and if you ask politely can probably even arrange a private tour from one of the locals.

 

 

Couldn't have said it better myself.  There's a perception that Stowe is farther away from Boston than it really is; Okemo, Killington, Sunday River, Bretton Woods, etc. are all about three hours from where I live in MetroWest Boston.  Stowe is only a half-hour more, at most, and that's if you fly into Boston.  Like OES said, flying into Burlington makes Stowe really close.

 

The only "crowded" time for mid-January would be MLK Weekend.

 

Natural snowfall is always questionable anywhere in New England, but Stowe's snow-making covered trails should be "good to go" by mid-January.

post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldEasternSkier View Post
 

In a word .. Stowe.

 

Northern Vermont gets the best and most consistent snowing New England IMHO (others I'm sure will differ :rolleyes).  January is a bit early for the best snow, but any of the New England resorts have nearly full snowmaking coverage, so you shouldn't need to worry.  Unless it's a holiday week, midweek crowds are pretty tame .. but watch out on the weekends!

 

Coming from the midwest, consider flying into Burlington (direct flights from Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit).  Stowe is a 45 minute drive from the Burlington airport.  You've got the quintessential New England town, plenty of good lodging, food and entertainment options in town and on the mountain and probably the best ski experience in New England.  Plenty of terrain from some of the best steeps in New England to blue cruisers for the family.  Lots of other options if you're not skiing .. cross country, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, etc.

 

Stowe can be pricey, but if you do your homework you can find off-mountain lodging in the area for reasonable. If Stowe's not your scene, there are plenty of other options in the area .. all within a short drive of Burlington.  Mad River Glen (old school baby!), Sugarbush and Smuggler's Notch are other options.  You could even stay in the town of Stowe and ski a different area every day .. they're all within a 45 minute drive from Stowe.

 

Back when the EpicSki Academy was still going strong, the East Coast ESA was hosted at Stowe in early December.  You'll find plenty of Bears who call Stowe home and if you ask politely can probably even arrange a private tour from one of the locals.

that's the real key here, bypass Boston unless you absolutely have to have a big city experience. Now you have easy access, just rent a car at airport and drive out of  BTV , it takes less time to do that then to boot up at the mountain. Yes cost might be a bit higher than going to BOS but what's your time and peace of mind worth.

post #14 of 27

Gonna jump on the Stowe train here (full disclosure, I work there). However, the reason I work at Stowe is that I grew up skiing all over New England, and have instructed a few different places. When I had the choice to work anywhere in the Northeast as a ski instructor, I chose Stowe, because it is hands down the best resort I have ever skied in the East.

 

Everything OldEasternSkier says is absolutely, 100% spot on. If you're coming to ski, don't fly into Boston. I grew up near Boston, and when I went skiing, I would travel at least 3 hours to get to anything decent. And I didn't have to fight my way out of Logan on Route 1 and I-93, which can be a fantastic disaster if you hit it at the wrong time... even if you don't get lost. And getting lost is fantastically easy in Boston. Fly into Burlington (airport code BTV to help your searching), and you have a very small airport that's not busy at all, and there is all the skiing you want within 45 minutes of the airport parking lot. Even if you don't pick Vermont, don't fly into Boston. If you're going to New Hampshire, fly into Manchester (MHT). If you choose Maine, fly into Portland (PWM). All of those airports put you much closer to ski country than Boston does.

 

Again, I'll push Stowe. We have an entire mountain dedicated almost completely to novice and intermediate terrain (Spruce Peak), so you'll have no problem finding plenty of that if that's what you want. There's also plenty of blue cruisers on Mansfield as well. As far as a town goes, Stowe is the most legendary ski town in the East, if not in America. It is packed full of history, places to eat, places to stay, and things to do.

 

And by far your best bet for good snow in January is in Northern Vermont. We get more snow than New Hampshire and Maine on average, so we have a better shot at full coverage by January. If there isn't natural snow, Stowe has had multimillion dollar upgrades to their snowmaking system in the past two years. The upgrades last year led to the best early season we've ever had at Stowe, and they threw a few hundred more brand new guns up on the hill this summer, so I can only imagine what it's going to be like this year.

 

So yeah... Stowe. Definitely Stowe.

post #15 of 27

northern vermont and whiteface.  lake placid is certainly a nice town. 

post #16 of 27

What type of skiing experience are you looking for?

 

1) Is snow generally reliable in mid January ? - No, you have better odds the further north you go (ie. Stowe, Jay Peak, Smuggs, Sugar Bush, etc.), but no guarantees especially in January.  That said, most of the intermediate terrain is in good shape by then.

2) Quality of skiing ? Variety of slopes (family runs from Black to Green), but steeps/bumps not really necessary - Most of the major resorts being reccomended will have some variety.  Are you looking for wide open trails, or more classically cut trails that wind a bit?

3) Crowds and lift capacity - As others have said, midweek you will have no problems with crowds and lines (MLK excepted, but even that usually isn't too bad).  Generally, Saturdays are the busiest day.  So, if you fly in and get settled on Saturday, you may see some crowds Sunday, though most will be gone by mid day at most mountains mentioned.

4) Distance from Boston airport ? - Do you need to fly in to Boston?  If not, I would definitely fly in to Burlington.  If you do, how long a drive is acceptable from Logan, this will help target the right mountains.

5) Availability of on-slope or nearby lodging (not necessary , but preferred) - What type of lodging are you looking for, condo or hotel?  What level of amenities/service/cost?

6) Town (restarunts & shops) - What types of restaurants/shops?  Are you a foodie looking for fancy dining?  Do you or someone in the family want to shop,  or go to the spa?  Are you just looking for something that feels like a ski town to stroll around?

 

If you're looking for a classic New England ski town, and can fly in to Burlington, or don't mind the drive, go to Stowe.  Plenty of terrain choices, and everything else too.  Biggest strike against it is that the ticket prices are high.

 

Also, what are your feelings on temps, they can run the gamut this time of year, but obviously the further north you go, the colder they are likely to be, this can be both good (snow vs. rain) and bad (0> to single digits vs. teens - 20s).

post #17 of 27

I too would say Stowe. What everyone said is true, and in my opinion there's no comparison to any other ski town in the Northeast. North Conway has a lot of stuff but it's a lot more touristy and I just don't like it anywhere near as much as I like Stowe.

 

I've been going to Stowe every year in mid-January for around 8 years since we bought a time share at the Trapp's, the second week of January. We've had rain a number of times, super deep freeze once (overnight low of, I think it was, 38 below 0 F), so you never know what you'll get. However, even the year it was dumping rain the day we drove up, it got cold again fast and they had so much terrain covered and in great shape, it was incredible. That was before the new snowmaking they put in. And if it's really cold riding the gondola helps a lot.

 

From Stowe you can get to a bunch of other resorts, Sugarbush very easily. And even to drive over to Bretton Woods or Cannon is only two hours each way, but there's plenty to keep you busy at Stowe.

 

You should be able to get really great deals on lodging midweek, but watch out for MLK weekend because things will book up fast. You might find some great ski and stay packages, or check out the Vermont Travel Club card for deep discounts on lift tickets at Stowe and a bunch of other places.

post #18 of 27

North Conway and it's local areas are a great choice if running up from Beantown. NH is much more laidback than VT in general.

 

" Variety of slopes (family runs from Black to Green), but steeps/bumps not really necessary".

 

This says southern VT to me. Mt. Snow, Stratton, Bromley and Okemo. Lot's of snowmaking, grooming and runs for everyone to be happy given your above requirements.

post #19 of 27

If you decide to try Northern VT, try both Smugglers' Notch and Stowe.  Each has plenty to offer in terms of terrain choices for beginner through expert.  Stowe has the real ski-town vibe if you prefer that kind of vacation.  Smugglers' has a self-contained village vibe, so everything is walkable or accessible from convenient shuttle bus system.  Stowe lift system provides some higher speed lifts, Smugglers' lifts are older/slower style.  Smugglers' caters in a big way to families with kids of all ages, but no lack of options at Stowe either.  Ski them both!

post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the great input ...I really like the idea of flying into Burlington. Wife and daugther will be in  Boston the week before, and I was looking to meet them there  --but this opens my eyes up to some other options. 

post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbes429 View Post
 

If you decide to try Northern VT, try both Smugglers' Notch and Stowe.  Each has plenty to offer in terms of terrain choices for beginner through expert.  Stowe has the real ski-town vibe if you prefer that kind of vacation.  Smugglers' has a self-contained village vibe, so everything is walkable or accessible from convenient shuttle bus system.  Stowe lift system provides some higher speed lifts, Smugglers' lifts are older/slower style.  Smugglers' caters in a big way to families with kids of all ages, but no lack of options at Stowe either.  Ski them both!

 

 

Let me put a caveat on this. I definitely would agree that doing Stowe and Smuggs is always a good idea. However, there is a very big BUT attached to this. Look at a map. Stowe and Smuggs are RIGHT next to each other, right? Heck, they even share a mountain. That is very true. However, what a non-local wouldn't know is that Route 108, which runs through Smugglers Notch (the mountain pass, not the ski area) is closed as long as there is snow on the ground, from the entrance to Stowe's base to the entrance to Smuggs' base. So when you Google Map it and it says its 5 minutes from one to the other... NOPE. It is at least an hour to drive from one base area to the other. The only way to go through the Notch on 108 is on foot.

 

Check it:

 

Not saying you shouldn't do Stowe and Smuggs, but you should definitely be informed about what is involved before you buy lift tickets for both and suddenly realize how far it is.

post #22 of 27
Quote:
The only way to go through the Notch on 108 is on foot

 

I asked a Stowe local how you get from Stowe ski area to Smuggs one time with the road closed and all...  His response was to "drive a snowmobile over".  Ok, question#2, what do you do when you don't have a snowmobile handy?  :)

 

I've been up there in the summer and driven over the pass...  it's pretty apparent why they don't even try to keep the road open once the snow starts falling!

post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
 

 

I asked a Stowe local how you get from Stowe ski area to Smuggs one time with the road closed and all...  His response was to "drive a snowmobile over".  Ok, question#2, what do you do when you don't have a snowmobile handy?  :)

 

I've been up there in the summer and driven over the pass...  it's pretty apparent why they don't even try to keep the road open once the snow starts falling!


Edit: I should read back a bit before responding ...

 

You have to drive around. I think it's a 45 min trip.

post #24 of 27

As they say in Maine ... Yah can't get thar from heah ... At least not when 108 is closed through the notch.:rolleyes

 

post #25 of 27

If the notch is open there really isn't any point in coming up to ski.

post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbes429 View Post
 

If you decide to try Northern VT, try both Smugglers' Notch and Stowe.  Each has plenty to offer in terms of terrain choices for beginner through expert.  Stowe has the real ski-town vibe if you prefer that kind of vacation.  Smugglers' has a self-contained village vibe, so everything is walkable or accessible from convenient shuttle bus system.  Stowe lift system provides some higher speed lifts, Smugglers' lifts are older/slower style.  Smugglers' caters in a big way to families with kids of all ages, but no lack of options at Stowe either.  Ski them both!

 

 

Let me put a caveat on this. I definitely would agree that doing Stowe and Smuggs is always a good idea. However, there is a very big BUT attached to this. Look at a map. Stowe and Smuggs are RIGHT next to each other, right? Heck, they even share a mountain. That is very true. However, what a non-local wouldn't know is that Route 108, which runs through Smugglers Notch (the mountain pass, not the ski area) is closed as long as there is snow on the ground, from the entrance to Stowe's base to the entrance to Smuggs' base. So when you Google Map it and it says its 5 minutes from one to the other... NOPE. It is at least an hour to drive from one base area to the other. The only way to go through the Notch on 108 is on foot.

 

Check it:

 

Not saying you shouldn't do Stowe and Smuggs, but you should definitely be informed about what is involved before you buy lift tickets for both and suddenly realize how far it is.

 

Back in the Tom Watson days - am I dating myself here? maybe it was the next owner - I think you could ski back and forth between Spruce and Sterling. Sad that is no longer.

post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

Back in the Tom Watson days - am I dating myself here? maybe it was the next owner - I think you could ski back and forth between Spruce and Sterling. Sad that is no longer.
You can still ski from Spruce to Sterling, the trails are still there. I have a good friend who's a passholder at Smuggs, while I instruct at Stowe. When we decide to visit each other, we park at our home resort, take our lift up, cut across, and buy our lift ticket for the other resort when we reach the base. Sometimes, we'll take the regular path, or we'll meet up in the Birthday Bowls, ski down into the Notch, then either go one way or the other to the resort of the day. However, not a plan I'd make as a tourist. Going OB on a mountain you don't knows begging for trouble.
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