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Hidden gems and best kept secrets

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

We have all encountered ski areas that somehow do not get the exposure that they would justly deserve.  They may be smaller, out of the way, or may suffer from a lack of amenities.  Yet, they deliver a better ski experience than better known ski resorts.  

 

Maybe you would like to share your own list of hidden gems and why you like them so much.  So, to start things off, here is my own list of best kept secrets:

 

Burke Mountain, VT:  good terrain.  Never icy.  Never crowded.  Friendly locals.  Narrow runs are sheltered from the wind.  Fabulous views of the Lake Willoughby gap and the White Mountains.

 

Massif du Sud, Québec:  (Not to be confused with Le Massif de Charlevoix)  Good terrain.  Never icy.  Never crowded. Lots of glades.  Tons of snow.  Very laid back.

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pacobillie View Post
 

Burke Mountain, VT:  good terrain.  Never icy.  Never crowded.  Friendly locals.  Narrow runs are sheltered from the wind.  Fabulous views of the Lake Willoughby gap and the White Mountains.

 

Massif du Sud, Québec:  (Not to be confused with Le Massif de Charlevoix)  Good terrain.  Never icy.  Never crowded. Lots of glades.  Tons of snow.  Very laid back.

 

I love Burke, too. Been years since I've been there in winter, but going back this year for sure. (Discount ticket is already in hand.) Not sure I'd say "never icy" about any New England area - that would be a big reach - but it is for sure true that the more northerly inland areas with low skier traffic and heavier reliance on natural snow are less prone to the ubiquitous boiler plate that plagues skiers at places like Sunday River. In any case, if you like Burke you will like Saddleback. Very similar in many ways, including terrain, vibe, uncrowded slopes ... even including their histories of financial woes. I've actually been wondering if the sugar daddies behind the recent Burke acquisition might have their eye on Saddleback too. Hint, hint.

post #3 of 8
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post
 

 

 In any case, if you like Burke you will like Saddleback. Very similar in many ways, including terrain, vibe, uncrowded slopes ... even including their histories of financial woes. I've actually been wondering if the sugar daddies behind the recent Burke acquisition might have their eye on Saddleback too. Hint, hint.

Agree on Saddleback.  Only been there once, but I was pleasantly surprised, and that was before the terrain expansion.  

 

One more thing about Burke:  I always go up to and park at the mid-Burke lodge.  The walk to the lodge from the parking lot is very short, and I like the old rundown lodge.  There is something warm and cozy about that place.  I also like the fact that they segregate the beginners from other skiers, by keeping them on the lower mountain.  And in 25 years of skiing at Burke, I do not believe that I have once experienced a lift line of more than 3 minutes.  Most of the time, there are 3 or 4 empty chairs in front of you.  

 

The only sad thing is that a few years back, they decided to show the glades on the trail map, and later on, they posted signs telling skiers where they actually are.  Up until then, most of them were fairly well kept secrets, and you really had to pay attention to find them.

post #5 of 8

Participate in this forum long enough and you realize there aren't any hidden gems anymore. Someone knows about it! :eek

 

One hill that I think qualifies is Powderhorn in western CO. Tiny ski area that's kind of local to Grand Junction and not much of anything else. I went there once and had a great time. I never did, but I reckon in the spring you could ski a couple hours in the morning, then bike Fruita/GJ or Moab in the afternoon - not a bad day. 

 

My favorite hidden gems are the ones hidden in plain sight - small, supplementary ski hills in much bigger resort towns. Howelsen in Steamboat, Snow King in Jackson, Wolf Mountain near Powder and Snowbasin, and I think there are a couple in southern CO, Silverton and Durango, maybe? 

post #6 of 8

Mission Ridge, WA.

 

Right outside of Wenatchee it has beautiful weather and good snow, though not a lot of it.  It has a very local ski area feel and interesting terrain.  There is not a lot of steep stuff, but it's a fun place to spend the day.  Too far from Seattle to pull in big crowds.


Edited by Posaune - 11/1/13 at 6:27am
post #7 of 8

Loveland, Monarch, Sunlight, and to a lesser extent Wolf Creek.

 

I think out of the list, Sunlight is the furthest off the radar. Its completely overshadowed with Vail an hour East and Aspen an hour South. The mountain skis like Ajax- Steep, lots of Aspen groves, and just a fun place.

 

Monarch is off the radar because it is just a bit too far to attract Denver day skiers, but it seems like that may be changing a little bit. It gets a good amount of snow and the high altitude and cold weather make it very, very good quality snow. Very easy to find powder. Lift served is not terribly tough, but it has a lot of consistent fall line terrain of around 30* pitch, and Mirkwood Bowl is some of my favorite hikeable terrain anywhere- the hike is just long enough to keep things fresh, the place gets windload like crazy, and it has lines that are as tough as anything I want to ski. Best season pass deal anywhere.

 

Loveland- everybody drives by it. If you like bowl terrrain, you need to ski it-most of the area is one giant above treeline bowl, going from intermediate to expert. Not a ton of gnar, but you have a whole ridge with easy hikes to fresh lines.

 

Wolf Creek- Every skier in Colorado knows Wolf Creek, but usually the only exposure that they get is seeing Wolf Creeks line on the snow report showing more snow and more of a base than anywhere else in Colorado year after year after year.  What is amazing about this place is that the snow to skier ratio is insanely good.  I had several days last where the whole day was deep faceshot action- and I ended the day just doing faceshot hot laps straight down the liftline. Few places can offer snorkel days from first chair to the 4:00 bell, across the whole mountain. Wolf can.

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pacobillie View Post
 

One more thing about Burke:  I always go up to and park at the mid-Burke lodge.  The walk to the lodge from the parking lot is very short, and I like the old rundown lodge.  There is something warm and cozy about that place.  I also like the fact that they segregate the beginners from other skiers, by keeping them on the lower mountain.  And in 25 years of skiing at Burke, I do not believe that I have once experienced a lift line of more than 3 minutes.  Most of the time, there are 3 or 4 empty chairs in front of you.  

 

Unfortunately (in my opinion, I also much prefer starting there) that lodge is getting replaced in the very near future by something bigger and fancier.  Jay Peak, when they bought Burke, said they're planning up to four new lodges, plus new housing development.  No clue where they'll put them all, though there's several acres below the mid lodge that's cleared and I'll bet condos go there, since the new high speed quad loads further downhill than the old lift, right below the lodge and at the top of that open area. Only reason I can see is to give future condos easier access to the lift.

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