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Looking to ski Vermont [with intermediates]

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

My girlfriend and I are planning on taking a trip with a bunch of her friends from college and highschool (all couples). I haven't taken a trip with average recreational skiers in a very long time (possibly ever), so I don't really know where in vermont I should be looking to go. Basically we are looking for a place where we can stay at or close to the mountain (fairly cheap) and have a mountain that offers something for everyone in terms of ability. I was thinking Stratton might be a good palce to go since no one other than my girlfriend and I (and she is just barely considered advanced) is a very talented skier. I think that palces like Jay, Stowe, MRG (yes NH I know), etc. would be out of the question.

I was thinking that Mt. Snow, Smugg's, or stratton would be good palces to look at, but I wanted to check here as I know very little about skiing in Vermont other than Stowe and Jay. I have also been up to Waterville in NH, and thought that could make a good intermediate-level destination for a bunch of mid 20-somethings looking to mix some skiing with a fun weekend.

Let me know if you have any suggestions, as this is not my usual ski weekend/vacation.

Thanks,

GREG

post #2 of 26
I would definately not go to Stratton, we don't call it "flatton" for it's legendary steeps. Your friends might like it but for you it would probably bring thoughts of suicide within the first couple of hours...

Please explain why Jay, Stowe and MRG are out of the question but Smuggs is on your shortlist? Until clarification I would go with Sugarbush, Stowe, Jay or Smuggs in no particular order. Lots of great terrain in all levels of skiing.
post #3 of 26
If they have never been to Stowe, then that's my rec. The gondola is all easy stuff and there's Spruce too.

Stowe is clasic New England.

And(full disclosure)...I don't like Stratton...at all.
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
As you can see, I don't know much about the area, I just want somewhere that is not going to be frightening for any of them (ranging from beginner to aggressive intermediate). I don't really hang around that type of skier outside of a very controlled Western NY skiing environment. Plus I really do not know Vermont well. I always considered Stowe and Stratton to be the more aggressive ski areas in the east. I also do not want to be tempted to ditch the group as that won't score bonus points with the gf's long-time friends. I have skied Stratton and figured that they could ski there and actually feel good about themselves. As long as there are semi-steep groomers I have have fun, and I suspect they won't want to ski anything beyond a semi-steep groomer (no bumps, trees, steeps, rocks, waterfalls - none of the fun stuff ).
Thanks so far though. I may consider Stowe if everyone thinks it won't be too much.
Later
GREG
post #5 of 26
Stowe is but Stratton is definately not an "aggressive" resort. Like Paul mentioned, Stowe has alot of green/intermediate terrain.

Obviously, I am alittle jaded but the Bush has the terrain your looking for as well plus while they are enjoying the Bush you can cruise over to MRG which will definately put a bee in your bonnet.
post #6 of 26
Another bonus of Stowe is you can ski super-steep groomers and or bumps on the same lift that they are using for mellow blues.
post #7 of 26
Greg,

Stay in the mad river valley...

ski Sugarbush. Tire them all out and you can do a day solo at MRG.

The bush has the goods tho, my favorite mountains.....nothing is even close IMO....super steeps(castlerock, steins etc) and fantastic cruisers.....expert heaven, beginner heaven and intemediate's dream.

Manchester is a fun town to stay in too....choices from there would be bromley, magic and (yuk) stratton...okemo and killington w/i range but you would be driving over an hour to get there....
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by JHrefugee View Post
Obviously...

you can cruise over to MRG which will definately put a bee in your bonnet.
Bird Land
post #9 of 26
OK - a little fair and balanced time for Stratton

It's well setup with great lifts and grooming. There are more difficult trails there, not as steep as the Bush but good vertical and some interesting tree skiing also if you know where to look. The lodges and village are well put together. There are a lot of boarders there thanks to Ross Powers and the US Open popularizing it. So if anyone boards I think it would be most desirable for them. I do like the layout of being able to get almost anywhere if you head to the top. In that sense Mt Snow is similar. I can't say much about staying there - I have family in the area and stay with them when I go.

Mt Snow is a bit of a step down in difficulty (with the exception of some of the trails on the North Face). There's an old style skiing hotel at the bottom. The apres ski place is the Snow Barn for pizza, a fire, draft beers and pool.

I think if you have a mix of intermediates they'll enjoy something like Stratton or Mt Snow more.

The advantage of SB is there is more variety, vertical and a nice small town feel to it. To me it's harder to get to (good and bad I suppose) and less coverage of snow making on the places I like to go there (Castlerock and such). Besides that usually if I go there and there's snow I'd likely head over to MRG. But if you're there for a while you could do both if conditions are good. To me it feels less like a dedicated resort and more like an old NE small town in the mountains.

If it were my choice I would suggest Stratton/Mt Snow for a long weekend if the skiers were intermediate or there were snowboarders. Sugarbush would be my destination if it were a week and the skiers were better technically. To me there would have to be natural snow or I would be frustrated at SB because I'd be looking at Castlerock shaking my head . And it rules out MRG. Also no boarders at MRG.

Of course ideally I'd head to the place with the most snow, but that's a crap shoot at this point. Some years there is a southerly storm track, other years there is lake effect and more northerly pattern.
post #10 of 26
I agree completely with ct55, and I'd add Okemo to the list, too. Similar to Stratton in level of difficulty, but with more of a town, so there are lots of places to stay. Great intermediate skiing -- and it sounds like that's what you're looking for.
post #11 of 26
Smuggs has lots of medium priced condos beside the large beginner part of the mtn, esp good if you're bringing some low intermediates. Smuggs also has Sterling mtn for intermediates and Madonna with some true expert terrain. Okemo is a good place too, where intermediates will be pampered by superb groomers. Lots of slopeside condos there, but maybe a little more pricey than Smuggs.
post #12 of 26
Stowe, the terrain serviced by the Triple, and gondola is good for them. Also, Spruce has great stuff for beginners and intermediates, and stowe now has a gondola to connect mansfield and spruce, accessible right between the quad and gondola.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier View Post
I think that palces like Jay, Stowe, MRG (yes NH I know), etc. would be out of the question.
FYI, Jay, Stowe, and MRG are all most definitely in Vermont...
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ct55 View Post
OK - a little fair and balanced time for Stratton

It's well setup with great lifts and grooming. There are more difficult trails there, not as steep as the Bush but good vertical and some interesting tree skiing also if you know where to look. The lodges and village are well put together. There are a lot of boarders there thanks to Ross Powers and the US Open popularizing it. So if anyone boards I think it would be most desirable for them. I do like the layout of being able to get almost anywhere if you head to the top. In that sense Mt Snow is similar. I can't say much about staying there - I have family in the area and stay with them when I go.

Mt Snow is a bit of a step down in difficulty (with the exception of some of the trails on the North Face). There's an old style skiing hotel at the bottom. The apres ski place is the Snow Barn for pizza, a fire, draft beers and pool.

I think if you have a mix of intermediates they'll enjoy something like Stratton or Mt Snow more.

The advantage of SB is there is more variety, vertical and a nice small town feel to it. To me it's harder to get to (good and bad I suppose) and less coverage of snow making on the places I like to go there (Castlerock and such). Besides that usually if I go there and there's snow I'd likely head over to MRG. But if you're there for a while you could do both if conditions are good. To me it feels less like a dedicated resort and more like an old NE small town in the mountains.

If it were my choice I would suggest Stratton/Mt Snow for a long weekend if the skiers were intermediate or there were snowboarders. Sugarbush would be my destination if it were a week and the skiers were better technically. To me there would have to be natural snow or I would be frustrated at SB because I'd be looking at Castlerock shaking my head . And it rules out MRG. Also no boarders at MRG.

Of course ideally I'd head to the place with the most snow, but that's a crap shoot at this point. Some years there is a southerly storm track, other years there is lake effect and more northerly pattern.
Yup...very nicely balanced
post #15 of 26
Id say Stowe. Plenty of intermediate terrain, nice groomers, good ski town/apres stuff, and when the others tire out, youve still got the goods on the forerunner quad. Good luck.
post #16 of 26
Greg,
When are you thinking about going? The time you are there probably will make a difference -- both in price and terrain selection.

My family has been an annual regular at Smuggs for the last 10 years or so and have also skiied Sugarbush. We have many good things to say about these two resorts in the region, particularly when it comes to having something for everyone. I'll focus my 2 cents on Smuggs and leave the Bush for someone else to discuss. I wish I can tell you something about Stowe but I never skied there, although it's a beautiful place in the summer. MRG and Jay, same thing, maybe some day (soon I hope).

Here is my take on Smugs...

Smuggs has the reputation to be a family resort and its slow lifts. Both of these are true but it is no indication of its terrains and the quality there of. Many argue that the selection of terrain is lacking (only a couple of ways down from the upper mountains -- all the trails diverge from only a handful) but for what you want to do, it'll work out great. Particularly, you have an opportunity to all start out at the same location, split up and then meet up again. Furthermore, you can readily hit a couple of runs in your caliber when your less advanced friends decides to head inside early due to cold/fatigue. Word of advise though, do plan the days in advance if you want to do that. Their glades close half an hour to an hour early (like 3pm).

The groomers are great in the middle of the season. They have ones that ranges from what's equivalent to a bunny slope to something several miles long. Some are very narrow and winding (like tradition NE terrain) and some are wide (there are more so this year to attract the masses). They have ones (short and long) dedicated to / designated for the real conservative/beginner skiers and ones that are really steep cruisers but are only called blue or barely black. When the place gets dumped on (pretty much regularly in Jan/Feb), only half of the trails are groomed, leaving the other half (pow, crud, trees, cliffs, etc.) to be enjoyed by the more aggressive/adventurous.
post #17 of 26
Greg:

Do yourself a favor; listen to me. (just kidding--sort of )

Stowe and Mad River Valley represent best of Vermont.

Stratton is great, if and only if, you're driving from NY, Ct, and the three to four hour car ride is all you can bear. Otherwise, it represents worst of vermont. All trails are boulevards--with a lot of sameness; certainly the most expensive, along with Okemo. Stratton has more natural snow than Mt.Snow (forget Mt. Snow). Okemo is a better chioce than Stratton, but both are alomost exlcusively groomer oriented and cater to a well heeled clientele, not a value judgement; just a fact.

The Bush, John Egan's home mountain and Stowe and if there is adequate snow, Mad River Glenn are the really much more represetnative of what vermont is. Jay, is wonderful but isolated. By the way, Jay gets about 350 inches of natural snow and has some of the best glades in the business .

I'd go to Stowe for sure. Town is quaint. Great food and drink. Real vermont history; home of billy kid. Stop by some of the really nice hotels for a cocktail, and plenty of mid priced accomodations. Plenty of variety and a real skiers mountain.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by blitz View Post
Greg:

Do yourself a favor; listen to me. (just kidding--sort of )

Stowe and Mad River Valley represent best of Vermont.

Stratton is great, if and only if, you're driving from NY, Ct, and the three to four hour car ride is all you can bear. Otherwise, it represents worst of vermont. All trails are boulevards--with a lot of sameness; certainly the most expensive, along with Okemo. Stratton has more natural snow than Mt.Snow (forget Mt. Snow). Okemo is a better chioce than Stratton, but both are alomost exlcusively groomer oriented and cater to a well heeled clientele, not a value judgement; just a fact.

The Bush, John Egan's home mountain and Stowe and if there is adequate snow, Mad River Glenn are the really much more represetnative of what vermont is. Jay, is wonderful but isolated. By the way, Jay gets about 350 inches of natural snow and has some of the best glades in the business .

I'd go to Stowe for sure. Town is quaint. Great food and drink. Real vermont history; home of billy kid. Stop by some of the really nice hotels for a cocktail, and plenty of mid priced accomodations. Plenty of variety and a real skiers mountain.
a top 5 post all time I have read on epic....

word on this topic:
post #19 of 26
Stowe it is!
post #20 of 26
hit the bush,stowe or jay. you can stay in jaypeak hotel for decent price with meals and tickets included. stowe is going to cost alittle more but worth it cause of the town and places to eat. the bush is great mtn can stay and ride for a good price and have some places to eat and kickback some brew.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Indatreez View Post
...you can stay in jaypeak hotel for decent price with meals and tickets included.
Jay is a fantastic place to ski, but there is nothin goin on.
post #22 of 26
If you really don't want to be tempted to ditch the group then do not go to Stowe of Mad River Valley. Way too much good skiing to resist. Same for Jay. Plus, If you're anything like me, you will have trouble guaging how steep or hard trails are for "less able" skiers and will get in trouble for leading them to places they do not want to be. This has happened to me so many times that I refuse to lead such groups.

Stratton is a good choice and there is more of a base village with shopping and such for those who like that. Their lift ticket and lodging prices are pretty steep though. Okemo is a good choice too,a bit less for tickets, but about the same for lodging I think.

Mt Snow is a little smaller and probably a little less expensive in the lodging dept.
post #23 of 26
If you go north, I stay at the Sunrise Motor Inn in Morisville VT. It's within 45mins of Jay, Sumgg's, Stowe and Sugarbush. Rooms are cheap and you can rent one of two houses for the weekend.

Have to run I'll say more later.
post #24 of 26
Greg, you didn't say when your planning to take this trip?

If you like night life, Killington is the place to go. They have plunty of easy run's. You don't have to ski the harder stuff. I would think you could find a cheap place to stay in Rutland if you look.

If you want to do Okemo, there are a few places with 10 or 15 minute drive that might fit your budget.
post #25 of 26
What's the conditions looking like in VT? Anything open yet? I'll be there in just over 2weeks.

Killington would be a good MTN for you to go to, it's got a few nice steep runs and an entire section is nothing but Blues and Greens for the beginners. The last time I was there was 10+yrs ago and we Hit all the hard stuff, it was just me and a buddy and we were Expert Skiers and were expecting more of a challenge. It was our first time at a "Big" mountain, and at that time Killington was the Most Popular (best advertised) VT mountain, and was a short drive from W. Mass.
post #26 of 26
i will second those suggesting bush or stowe. stowe has spruce and the gondi plus there is intermediate stuff at the main area, plenty to keep everyone busy. bush has two mountains, i suspect north would be better for your group since your group doesn't have the expert level for rock, gate, etc. but there are fun intermediate areas at south too.

i would recommend against jay peak. i am a season pass holder there and it is tops for powder and trees. i rate it very low for groomers, intermediates, and beginners. same with mrg for slightly different reasons, birdland won't be enough to capture the attention of beginner, intermediate, and lower advanced skiers for very long.

i wouldn't rule out killington as an option if you are going mid-week. if off mountain apres is needed for the less experienced skiers, killington is a good option and access is good from NY via route 4 from queensbury, ny. not a good weekend option due to crowds, but you can always tag pico in addition to killington if you are staying both during weekend and mid-week.
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