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Help in planning an east-coast trip

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
We've decided to skip the Rockies (Taos) for this year and take a winter tour of New England in our car from PA. We're planning to sleep in Albany,NY on Wednesday 3/12 and start skiing on the 13th. We have about a week for the trip and would like to reduce costs as much as possible; in particular, my wife probably wouldn't ski much but would like to try cross country/snowshoeing.

The main constraint that we have is that we're trying to avoid the "teen snowboarder" crowd that seems to plague most resorts in PA and from what I heard some of New England is notorious for it. I'm a beginner-intermediate and I get nervous practicing turns when people are passing fast. My wife is a beginner and doesn't feel comfortable skiing close to crowds, and prefers a quiet bunny hill.

A second constraint is that we're not fans of mountain roads and winter driving. Obviously, we can't fully avoid it, but there are worse roads and there are better roads. For example, the roads to Holiday Valley in NY are good, whereas the roads to resorts in SouthWestern PA are fairly crappy. We're driving a Camry that doesn't have snow tires.

My tentative plan was as follows:
Thursday 3/13 leave Albany for Killington in the morning, ski all day, sleep somewhere in Killington.

Friday 3/14 Ski some of the day in killington, then sleep in Rutland. It's the weekend so it's expensive and probably rowdy in Killington. How is the road between the two ?

Saturday/Sunday: Get away from the crowds, possibly skip the skiing. I'm looking for a small area, perhaps in NH or ME? If not, maybe go to Sugarbush, it seems less popular.

Monday-Wednesday: Stowe, Smuggs or Sugarbush, perhaps mix

Thursday: Head back to PA.

Any help or tips would be appreciated!
post #2 of 18
uricmu: If it is still open at that time of year you could try Pico which is before Killington going from Rutland on Rte 4 , not nearly as crowded and nice cruising runs with few cross trails that Killington seems to have which is where a lot of accidents occur ( trail intersections). You could do Killington on the Friday, then do Pico on Saturday. If you want a small quiet area come up to where I'm at : Middlebury College Snowbowl, ( Rte 125 )we are small, about 1000 vert. not crowded at all even on weekends, cheap $39 weekend , $25 midweek, can stay in Middlebury or better yet go from there up to Waitsfield. Find a place and ski Sugarbush early in the week, then keep working up north on Rte. 100 to Stowe, Smuggs or possibly Bolton Valley. The state does a pretty good job of keeping the roads open: we need the tourists to get to the mountains. You might hit it right and get some great powder during March. Have fun!
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm impressed, a college that has its own ski hill?
I should have gone there

It looks like a nice area once the undergrads are gone... When is spring break out there ?

How is Sugarbush over the weekends? My impression was that without night skiing and an active nightlife, it probably wouldn't attract crowds?
post #4 of 18
Spring break starts 3/21 but if you are worried about crowds at the Snowbowl on a weekend you don't want to go to a Killington, Sugarbush, Stowe etc. I don't think I've seen more than 100 undergrads on the mountain at any one time thru out the season, except on carnival race weekend which is in Feb. If I were looking for very little crowds on weekends it would be Pico and the Snowbowl up in central Vt. I would save Sugarbush for the Mon 3/17 because a lot of the skiing crowd will be up at Mad River because they give a real discount for wearing green on St. Patties day, then hit Stowe/ Smuggs further along in the mid week.
post #5 of 18
From my experience mid-March is going to be pretty quiet almost everywhere in New England. You may have to take care to find decent skiing at the smaller areas if we have a mild spring. If conditions hold you might like Bromley near Manchester, VT. It's not far from Stratton and Okemo, two good and bigger places for late season, mellow skiing. Killington is fine two, but could have more of that aggressive crowd you are concerned about. Stowe is nice, Sugarbush is so-so for beginners-low intermediates, but northern VT and NH may be the place to go for better spring snow conditions. You might look at Bretton Woods, NH or Cranmore. Lots of other choices.
post #6 of 18
To beat the crowds, try this: Pico (smallish but very long runs, no crowds), up to Burke, then back down to Bretton Woods, Wildcat, Cannon, and back to PA.

Kton is a zoo, and most of the good runs are interrupted by traverses.

If you really want a a change of pace, and great skiing, drive to Quebec and ski Mt. St. Anne and Le Massif, as well as Stoneham.
post #7 of 18
Mid-March is still winter in the New England mountains. Yes you can get warm spring weather, but just as likely to get mid-winter conditions. March is Vermont's heaviest snowfall month. Pico is planned to be open until April 1. There are some good mid-week lodging deals right on the Killington access road, so don't assume you have to go to Rutland. Weekends are a different story of course. Route 4 between Rutland and Killington is well maintained.
post #8 of 18

another suggestion

Although Mad River Glen has a reputation as a hard-core area, they have plenty of blue runs and even a seperate little area that has green and blue runs with it's own chair lift (Birdland) Since they do not allow snowboards, you won't have to worry about that "mentality". Just stick to the double chair. I would avoid Killington if crowds and teenage snowboarders are a concern. Can also recommend Pico, and you should check Bear Creek, which is a private area on Rt100 between Okemo and Killington. From what I understand they sell a limited number of tickets to the public.
You should also consider hitting Belleayre in NY on the way up. It's like a "Layer cake", with the bottom half being green runs only, and the top half being blues and blacks. Very quite nid-week.
post #9 of 18

"...The main constraint that we have is that we're trying to avoid the "teen snowboarder" crowd that seems to plague most resorts.... and I get nervous practicing turns when people are passing fast..."

I can't agree more!! It's not about your feelings - we do feel the same. And, not juts the snowboarder, some fast skiers misbehave and make us nervous too. ::

Good luck on find the perfect place and have nice trip!!!

post #10 of 18
I second Pico! I was at killington this Saturday and Pico yesterday. Kton was a zoo (with lots of crazy screaming teenagers) whereas Pico was nice and traquil! I highly recommend spending at least one day at Pico especially if you r wife is a beginner (assuming snow condition is still ok in March). I feel the same way as you do re irresponsible kids whizzing by and cutting ahead.
post #11 of 18
If you and your wife are novice/intermediate, Middlebury is a great choice.

Reasonable prices, low crowds, short walks from the parking lot, and the place is kept immaculate. Even the lift operators are friendly.

Middlebury is a nice little New England town as well. Beautiful college campus, nice restaurants, Otter Creek Brewery...

Had I known all this when I was in high school, I definitely would have gone to Middlebury College!

Pico and Bromley are good choices for not-so-large, not-so-crowded areas in central VT that are both beginner/novice/intermediate friendly.
post #12 of 18
I have made several ski trips throughout VT, NY and Quebec in mid March. Here are some generalizations that I have noticed on those trips. Northern VT and NY has been mid-winter in terms of temps and snow. Great conditions. Southern VT has been springlike in terms of temps and conditions. Very nice skiing as well. There are no crowds at that time of year and many areas are gearing down, getting ready to close for the season. Canada is the exception as that time is usually school break for Ontario. Lodging is wide open and prices for lodging and lift tickets are down from peak season at many areas. Okemo, I know does not lower rates until later.

We like to start up north in the snowy, mid-winter conditions and finish the week south for warmer weather and sunshine. This strategy also makes for a shorter drive home.

It should be a great trip. Have fun!
post #13 of 18
As others have pointed out by your description the one resort you want to avoid is Killington but on a Thursday it's not as bad. Their trail layout is huge and not very first timer friendly. Pico is a good choice but IMHO the new owners of K/Pico are not putting much effort into Pico.

Middlebury Ski Bowl, Bromley or MRG would be great choices plus the prices are less than the larger resorts like Sugarbush or Stowe.
post #14 of 18
skip killington altogether. maybe pico. still, i would head north and hit sugarbush and/or MRG during weekdays both are empty, and have WAY more snow/better conditions than K-ton (especially sugarbush- it's huge and nobody's there). K-ton is big, and overbuilt. just not fun. not many people (aside from mogul skiers) like K-ton.

sugarbush is not as big as killington in girth, but WAY more sustained vertical. and the terrain is varied and fun. something for everyone, and lots of it. plus, you always get funneled back to the base at north or south (hard/impossible to get lost unlike killington).

MRG is a great place- but to really enjoy it, you want to be more intermediate/advanced. no snowboarders. period. perhaps the greatest "vibe" you'll find in all of skiing. old school, friendly, non-commercial. you fall in love with an inanimate object after skiing here.

i would also suggest smuggler's notch. very similar to MRG- not commercial, undeveloped at the upper-mountain (no trailside condos- just snow-covered trees and the view of Mt Mansfield and highway 108 which is closed through the notch in winter). great terrain- more snow than most places. and not expensive relative to others ($54 lift tix)

one last thing- three 5 gallon fillups at participating mobil station in VT gets you a Buy one get one at sugarbush, MRG, Smuggs or Jay. on I-91 north, exit 3 brattleboro has a mobil right off the highway (only a few miles in) stop- fill up to 3/4 of a tank, go in- get the card punched, and find more mobils to go to (waterbury has one, waitsfield has 2 on the way to the 'bush/mrg from I-89) you can always ask someone filling up to have them punch it for you- i've done it many times (on a student budget-poverty)
post #15 of 18

....March....without snowtires = weather will dictate

To be honest...without snow tires you're going to find that you'll need to keep your options open....if you get a good stretch of weather....drive as far to northern Vermont as possible before bedding down...March can often be a fickle month...weatherwise.
Best of luck....
post #16 of 18
I'll chime in for your wife's interests as well. If you choose to head up Rt 100 from Killington/Pico, it's 40 miles from Rt. 4 to Warren, VT on Rt 100. There are a couple of ski clubs along the way who might rent rooms cheaply at that time of year (Onodaga Ski Club http://www.osc-ski.org/ has a house in Granville/Hancock)...but more importantly, in the Mad River Valley there are two great XC skiing options; Blueberry Lake and Ole's http://www.olesxc.com/
...both very close to Sugarbush so she could easily drop you off and head up to either of them to XC ski.
Sugarbush North (Mt Ellen) tends to be less crowded during the weekends although you need to keep an eye on the bus traffic. From the MR Valley you can head over to Burke, Bretton Woods, Attitash, Cannon, all within a couple/few hours from here.
post #17 of 18
My first trip to Killington was as an intermediate. And I absolutely hated it! Too much flat catwalks. And trail rating isn't very consistant. Big fear factor for a tentative intermediate.

Also, it's too big for one day. You hardly even get to know your way around by the end of it. Its claim to fame is the size. But that size really confuse you rather than entertain you until you can ski fast and ski most of the terrain without hesitation.

You can ski any resort during the week and not have to worry about teenage boarders. For the weekend days, I think Pico and Bromley would be the best "big mountains" that don't have equally big crowds. It's also down state so your drive home would be a bit shorter, as pointed out by others.
post #18 of 18
Keep in mind Pico is closed Tuesday and Wednesday non-holiday. On Monday, Thursday and Friday you have the place to yourself. Tickets are "only" $49. Killlington mid-week is very civilized. No lines (except perhaps a couple minutes on the K-1 gondola) and LOTS of terrain to spread people out. Just don't make the common mistake of trying to see it all in one day. Concentrate on one or two mountain areas. Otherwise you will spend your day trying to get someplace else rather than skiing.
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