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Vermont skiing - Stowe vs Sugarbush

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm organizing a ski trip to Vermont with 5-10 of my friends this February. Usually we go to Tremblant but with the Canadian dollar as high as it is going to Vermont is suddenly a lot more affordable. I've never been to Vermont so I'm looking for advice on where we should spend a weekend. So far the most likely candidates are Sugarbush and Stowe. None of us are really glade or backcountry skiers. I usually stick to open terrain, black and double black. Just going by online reviews I've read, here's how I narrowed it down:

Jay Peak - it's the closest, and I've read a lot of rave reviews...for the glades. But apparently the wind blows all that snow off the other runs. Plus we're going on the long weekend in February (Family Day) so I bet it'll be packed with people from Ontario.

Killington - too crowded. Kinda far. Am I writing it off too quickly?

Smuggler's Notch - no high speed lifts - no thanks. Maybe if I lived nearby I'd go there but not for one weekend a year.

Stratton - an Intrawest mountain so I'm assuming the village would be a lot like Tremblant or Blue Mountain, but it's the farthest of the big Vermont resorts.

Stowe - great reviews, reasonably close, lots of snow, and a one-lift ride to the summit. The new lift really unites the two mountains from the looks of it.

Sugarbush - great reviews, cheaper than Stowe, but about 60 km farther. Not that 60 km is a big deal when we're driving 6+ hours from Ontario.

Any suggestions? Any advice on terrain, accomodations, and apres-ski would be appreciated. This is a once in a blue moon trip so I want to get the most out of it!
post #2 of 19
How long are you planning to be in Vermont? Stowe and Sugarbush are close enough to each other that you could ski both. My wife and I do that fairly often -- stay in Stowe, and ski 1 day at Stowe, 1 day at Sugarbush. You could even work in a day at Jay Peak. What part of Ontario are you coming from? I may be able to give route suggestions & include some other stops.

As for Vermont ski areas, I've skied most of them. Give me an idea of what your group is looking for:
  • Terrain: easy, moderate, difficult, steep, bumps, etc
  • Parks: any 'boarders in the group? Trick skiers?
  • Lodging: slopeside? Off-mountain? Luxury? Economy?
  • Non-skiing: spas, shopping, etc
post #3 of 19
I agree with Snowsport. You are coming to VT for the first time, this is your chance to experience a couple of areas. Stay near Stowe, you can come down to Sugarbush and even Mad River Glen, does have steeps w/o trees and from Stowe, you can even head up to Jay from there.
post #4 of 19
There are things I like about both stowe and sugarbush.

Sugarbush - Great variety of trails. Castle rock is pretty unique. Has some good south facing trails that get warm even in cold vt winter. Mount ellen is basically deserted and has some very good skiing. People are friendly. Town has a great apres party scene. probably cheaper all around.

stowe- Some very good long steep trails as well as good intermediate trails. Fantastic woods skiing and snow field skiing off the chin. Again, good friendly crowd and good apres party scene. Probably more expensive.

Both great mountains but I always prefer to go to a place and really setttle in and explore. I would choose 1 to go to and plan on the other next year, The dollar will probably drop even more value by then anyways. If yo get bored at the one make the hour drive over to the other for the day but I cannot see you getting bored.

asland
post #5 of 19
Don't forget Smuggs either.

Sugarbush is a more spread out than Stowe and IMO skis a lot bigger. But they're both great and you can easily enjoy both in the time you have.
post #6 of 19
Smuggs is good. Jay Peak and Mad River Glen can be very good, but for those not into chutes, glades, and ungroomed they're not as attractive. But I agree with the others, for someone crossing the border the first time to enjoy on-piste advanced terrain Stowe and/or Sugarbush can't be beat. You might save money by staying in a roadside motel like the Best Western of Waterbury, VT, which puts you part way between both ski areas. Under February conditions Stowe and Sugarbush could entertain an aggressive, advanced skier for 2-3 days each. So you could split your time or just focus on one. Sugarbush North (Mt. Ellen) is particularly good for crowd avoidance in case "family day" coincides with the massive US ski holiday of President's Day Weekend Feb 16-18, 2008.
post #7 of 19
Consider Smuggs- it's an awesome mountain. as much snow as Stowe, and almost as much as Jay. The old lifts are slow, but nice nostalgia feel (like MRG) and the skiing is classic and terrain varied. plenty of side/backcountry (tons of it, if you know where to look- 100's of acres) and it's not as pricey as some others.

Sugarbush is pretty bangin' too- pretty big, with pretty good terrain and glades. i would have to say that the snow isn't quite as plentiful as smuggs, but good nonetheless. fast lifts and less crowds than stowe

Stowe- well, expensive, but great terrain and glades! snow is plentiful.

stay in Waterbury, VT best western as said. it gives you access to Mad river, sugarbush and stowe 20-40mins.

or, stay in burlington, and you have 45-55 mins to smuggs, stowe, sugarbush, and MRG and 1.5 hours to Jay peak (and most options for nightlife/lodging/stuff to do) good luck and enjoy!
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowsport View Post
How long are you planning to be in Vermont? Stowe and Sugarbush are close enough to each other that you could ski both. My wife and I do that fairly often -- stay in Stowe, and ski 1 day at Stowe, 1 day at Sugarbush. You could even work in a day at Jay Peak. What part of Ontario are you coming from? I may be able to give route suggestions & include some other stops.

As for Vermont ski areas, I've skied most of them. Give me an idea of what your group is looking for:
  • Terrain: easy, moderate, difficult, steep, bumps, etc
  • Parks: any 'boarders in the group? Trick skiers?
  • Lodging: slopeside? Off-mountain? Luxury? Economy?
  • Non-skiing: spas, shopping, etc
Terrain: difficult, steep and fast. We're all pretty good skiers but we're not experts by any stretch, and we stay on the marked trails. I don't seek out bumps but I don't avoid them either. No boarders or trick skiers in the group.
Lodging: slopeside would be nice, but there's not a lot of that at Stowe and Sugarbush is there? A hotel like Best Western 20 minutes away would be good too.
Non-skiing: For me the skiing is the most important part, I can do stuff like bars and shopping any time I want. A bar or two within walking distance of where we're staying would be nice.

I live in Cobourg (a bit east of Toronto) but my friends live all over - Waterloo, Hamilton, Georgetown, Ottawa. The fastest route seems to be through Montreal. It's not the most direct but it's almost all freeway. We're going over a weekend - two days for skiing and two days for driving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by asland View Post
Both great mountains but I always prefer to go to a place and really setttle in and explore. I would choose 1 to go to and plan on the other next year, The dollar will probably drop even more value by then anyways. If yo get bored at the one make the hour drive over to the other for the day but I cannot see you getting bored.

asland
I was thinking the same thing. I'd rather stay at one mountain for two days and get to know it than go to two mountains and barely scratch the surface.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post
Sugarbush North (Mt. Ellen) is particularly good for crowd avoidance in case "family day" coincides with the massive US ski holiday of President's Day Weekend Feb 16-18, 2008.
Yikes! It is the same holiday! Family Day (I know, it's a dumb name) is a new holiday too. I guess they made it the same weekend to be consistent with our neighbours to the south. Well now I want to reschedule! But it depends on how many of my friends can get the extra day off work.
post #9 of 19
If you can swing the extra loonies (now that they are so strong), Sugarbush does have slopeside lodging at South that is pretty convenient.

I like the skiing at Stowe and Sugarbush a lot. Stowe village has more atmosphere and is larger than Waitsfield, but they both work. Waterbury isn't a bad options if you want to save a little.
post #10 of 19
Definitely do Stowe, but you should skip Sugarbush in favor of Mad River Glen. Stowe's terrain is much better than Sugarbush's and MRG is a really interesting mountain. Old timey. Or if you have enough time do all 3. But if I were staying in Stowe and traveling to Waitsfield I would favor MRG. I think it's cheaper too.
post #11 of 19

Stowe info?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowsport View Post
How long are you planning to be in Vermont? Stowe and Sugarbush are close enough to each other that you could ski both. My wife and I do that fairly often -- stay in Stowe, and ski 1 day at Stowe, 1 day at Sugarbush. You could even work in a day at Jay Peak. What part of Ontario are you coming from? I may be able to give route suggestions & include some other stops.

As for Vermont ski areas, I've skied most of them. Give me an idea of what your group is looking for:
  • Terrain: easy, moderate, difficult, steep, bumps, etc
  • Parks: any 'boarders in the group? Trick skiers?
  • Lodging: slopeside? Off-mountain? Luxury? Economy?
  • Non-skiing: spas, shopping, etc
Hi snowsport/MisterF,

Hope you don't mind my hi-jacking your post, but I'm considering Stowe for a week in mid march (arriving Mar 18) from the UK.

Our party has two non skiers - both ladies - and 3 kids (10, 9 & 7) who are beginners. The dads will ski anything with snow, one skier & one boarder.

My questions start as follows:-
> The best deal we can put together from London has accomodation at the Green Mountain Inn - any experience of it, location, convenience to town/skiing
> Is there a choice of ski school and, if so, are there any that specialise with kids?
> Anywhere you could recommend that hires kids ski clothing? We can hire it here in Ireland, but if we can do it there that's one less thing to pack & it's a whole lot easier to change if it's wrong :-)

Many thanks,

CW
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cardweg View Post
Hi snowsport/MisterF,

Hope you don't mind my hi-jacking your post, but I'm considering Stowe for a week in mid march (arriving Mar 18) from the UK.

Our party has two non skiers - both ladies - and 3 kids (10, 9 & 7) who are beginners. The dads will ski anything with snow, one skier & one boarder.

My questions start as follows:-
> The best deal we can put together from London has accomodation at the Green Mountain Inn - any experience of it, location, convenience to town/skiing
> Is there a choice of ski school and, if so, are there any that specialise with kids?
> Anywhere you could recommend that hires kids ski clothing? We can hire it here in Ireland, but if we can do it there that's one less thing to pack & it's a whole lot easier to change if it's wrong :-)

Many thanks,

CW
Green Mountain Inn is great. Dead cnter in the middle of the village. Old historic inn.

Like most American ski areas, there is only one ski school.

You can hire ski clothes here. I'm sure you can get them at Pinnacle. I think you can also get them at AJs. Probably best to call ahead.
post #13 of 19
As most said, stay in Stowe and ski Stowe, MRG, Sugarbush and Smuggs. All great mountains. Stay away from Jay as it is too far a drive from there. I don't like Jay for several reasons. The only reason to go is for their glades but I think Stowe beats them handily in that area as well.
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cardweg View Post
Hi snowsport/MisterF,

Hope you don't mind my hi-jacking your post, but I'm considering Stowe for a week in mid march (arriving Mar 18) from the UK.

Our party has two non skiers - both ladies - and 3 kids (10, 9 & 7) who are beginners. The dads will ski anything with snow, one skier & one boarder.

My questions start as follows:-
> The best deal we can put together from London has accomodation at the Green Mountain Inn - any experience of it, location, convenience to town/skiing
> Is there a choice of ski school and, if so, are there any that specialise with kids?
> Anywhere you could recommend that hires kids ski clothing? We can hire it here in Ireland, but if we can do it there that's one less thing to pack & it's a whole lot easier to change if it's wrong :-)

Many thanks,

CW
CW,

As Epic stated, the Green Mountain Inn is really nice. In addition to the lodging, it has 2 restaurants -- the main dining room, and a pub-style place in the basement called "The Whip". It is located in the village, so it is convenient to shops and dining. The ski area is about 8 miles away, a scenic drive along Vermont Rt 108. There is a shuttle bus (free, I think), that runs from the village to the mountain.
post #15 of 19
Stowe isn't necessarily more expensive. In all the grocery stores around here they have (well, had last year, I assume they'll have them this year) stowe "gift card" type items. They're 49$ and good for one lift ticket any day of the year for the year you purchase them in. Given their prices peak season that's not bad at all. I started seeing them last year close to Christmas. They tend to stay around until they sell out (some stores sell out early, others had them until the end of last year).
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister F View Post
Smuggler's Notch - no high speed lifts - no thanks. Maybe if I lived nearby I'd go there but not for one weekend a year.

Stratton - an Intrawest mountain so I'm assuming the village would be a lot like Tremblant or Blue Mountain, but it's the farthest of the big Vermont resorts.
If you like Tremblant then you won't like Mad River. Mad River is just a ski area with the best skiing on the East coast. Smuggs has slow lifts but MRG's are even slower. If you go on the weekend you will stand in line.

Stowe is a class opperation. If you go there you will experience a little of what Vt is all about. There is a wide variety of terrain with good lifts. Everything is more expensive.

Waterbury is a cheaper place to stay, but it's not at all a ski town. You can still go to Stowe for after hour activities, it's not that far. If you are there to ski and funds are an issue, stay there.

So my recommendation is: Mad River Glen.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post
If you like Tremblant then you won't like Mad River. Mad River is just a ski area with the best skiing on the East coast. Smuggs has slow lifts but MRG's are even slower. If you go on the weekend you will stand in line.

Stowe is a class opperation. If you go there you will experience a little of what Vt is all about. There is a wide variety of terrain with good lifts. Everything is more expensive.

Waterbury is a cheaper place to stay, but it's not at all a ski town. You can still go to Stowe for after hour activities, it's not that far. If you are there to ski and funds are an issue, stay there.

So my recommendation is: Mad River Glen.
I wouldn't mind checking out Mad River Glen but not this time. A couple people going are very novice skiers, one has never skied before. So a place with one-person lifts, no grooming, and rocks all over the runs isn't what I'm looking for. There might even be a snowboarder or two in the group.

I'm thinking we'll go to Stowe, for at least one day, maybe both.

As for liking Tremblant, I don't really care one way or the other about traditional old ski hills vs modern resort villages. The Tremblant village is amazing - it's like a city right at the base and there's all kinds of reasonably priced accomodation to choose from right there. Even so, I tend to stick to the north side, where it's way less crowded, the snow's better, and there's a more traditional lodge. It almost feels like a different resort. But the lifts are just as fast. I've skied at some of the smaller hills in the Tremblant area too - Mont Blanc, Mont-Garceau, etc.
post #18 of 19
Stowe has class and tradition and all the terrain you are looking for. It's a great choice.
post #19 of 19

I can't say enough about Stowe Mountain.  There are 4 families in our group that make the trip from Pennsylvania to VT every year.  The mountain is amazing and has terrain for all levels skiers - especially expert.  No one will be bored.  The town has quaint shops as well as great ski wear/gear.  The Green Mt Inn is perfectly located in the center of town.  The non-skiers can walk to shops and restaurants.  They have a great spa - I highly recommend the massages. 

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