I finally visited Magic Mountain in southern Vermont on Saturday. Magic was closed for a long time, but it re-opened a few years ago. They rely heavily on natural snow, but Vermont has actually been getting help from Mother Nature lately, so I paid the place a visit.
Challenge 1: finding the place. The "Magic Mountain" sign on Rt. 11 is pretty much obscured by snowbanks these days. I've cycled past it a couple times during the summer months though, so I had a pretty good idea where it was. Pulled into the upper parking lot at 8:00. There were all of three other cars there. Ummmm, this place is open today, right?
Anyway, walked up to the base lodge, bought a lift ticket, and -- unlike in most base lodges where you're fighting for a spot to get geared up -- I sat down anywhere I wanted because there was basically nobody there.
Magic really only has two chairlifts, both doubles -- the red chair and the black chair. I'm not sure when the black chair last actually was operational. Judging by the amount of snow and ice piled up on the black chair, I'm guessing it's been a long time since they fired it up. The red chair takes you to the top though, so what else do you need?
The trail under the red chair gave me a good visual as to what Magic means by the "double black" designation. It's a lift line trail in every sense of the word -- just wide enough to fit a double chair, a couple cliff bands, giant bumps, rocks and dirt poking through everywhere, you get the idea.
I took a warm-up run down something that was more-or-less groomed, meaning the center third was groomed, and the sides weren't. Now it hasn't snowed since Wednesday, and there were still sizeable amounts of deep snow on the trail sides. It was unbelievably dense, heavy snow, but there it was. Wow.
Everything to skier's right of the red chair is fairly mellow and probably groomed out. Everything to skier's left of the red chair is natural -- steep, ungroomed, unmarked obstacles, the works. Easily the most "adventerous" terrain I've encountered in southern Vermont, and trails like Red Line and Magician would hold their own against anything in the northEast.
I skied all day, open to close; twice all day I had to wait maybe two minutes. Most of the time I just skated right onto the chair or had a one or two chair wait. How they make enough money to stay open is a mystery. I almost never saw another person on the trails.
So.... If a good day of skiing for you means having slopeside lodging, riding high-speed chairs, eating fancy meals, don't bother going to Magic. If you need lots of trails, great grooming and nice bamboo poles marking all the obstacles -- don't bother going to Magic. If you want to just ski awesome terrain with some genuinely friendly people and can do without the whole McResort scene -- get yourself to Magic. I can't wait to get back there.