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Where to ski in Vermont??

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm starting to plan a trip to Vermont for the upcoming season. I'd like to try to hit two places - but perhaps just stay at one.

Skiing skills - I'm a decent advanced skier, the wife is a very strong intermediate and the 10 YO son will be passing me before long. None of us are into real steep terrain so places with a lot of good blues would be ideal.

For proximity I've been thinking of Stowe and Smuggs as two potential places - but of course I'm open to suggestions - hence the post!

So...where should we go???

Thanks!
post #2 of 28
Stowe and Smuggs are excellent suggestions. You might also want to look into Okemo. They have some pass deals with Stratton or you could go to Killington from there.
post #3 of 28
Hey Rossi,

Stowe is far and away the best terrain in VT (IMO).  some may argue Jay Peak gets more snow, but it's basically in Canada and very out of the way.  I love Stowe and i think the experience and restaurants are awesome as well.  I havent been to Smuggs since i was 14 years old, i just remember it was VERY cold.  i would also recommend Killington as Robin mentioned.  I've skied Killingotn more then any other mtn in VT and my family and I love it.  I actually refer to it (in jest) as "ski-town USA" b/c that is exactly what it feels like driving, walking around there.  The only knock is it's in Southern VT and might not get as much natural snow as say Stowe or Jay Peak.  BUT Killington has the biggest/best snowmaking operation in the country (maybe even the world).  If you end up going with Stowe or Killington, i can help with lodging also.  i've stayed all over both mountains.  Good luck.
post #4 of 28
Smuggs and Stowe are really only a few miles apart...it'd be a short drive between them if Smuggler's Notch wasn't closed in the winter. I'm sure the prevailing winds and exposures could be different and Smuggs could be colder, but I can't imagine they'd be vastly different.
post #5 of 28

Nothing wrong with Stowe, has it all, but kind of far from home, can be pricey. And unless something has changed, you can't easily get to Smuggs from there during winter. Another secondary choice from Stowe in the 45-60 minute range would be Bolton Valley. Are you going during a holiday period or quiet weekdays? A place like Bromley (and nearby town of Manchester) might be nice for the former, a place like Killington for the latter. Although for weekdays many areas catering to intermediates will work for your group. Does your budget allow slopeside lodging or are you ok with commuting a short distance? Do you need après ski or will quiet condo work? Okemo has nearby small town of Ludlow, Mt. Snow is more quiet. I guess you're not interested in Gore?  Believe they will have a new terrain expansion this winter? 

post #6 of 28
Sugarbush is another great mountain in central/northern VT. Alomst half of its 111 trails are blues, so you'll find no shortage of terrain. Mad River Glen is right around the corner, and Stowe is about 30 miles north on Rte 100 if you want to hit another mountain on your vacation.
post #7 of 28
 Moving over to Resorts and Travel. 
Hope you have a great trip!
post #8 of 28
 LOL, I was just in Rochester the past few days. we could have gotten together for a beer and talk. The Mad River Valley is one of my favorites. You have Sugarbush, Sugarbush North and Mad River Glen all within earshot of each other. 
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RossiGuy View Post

Skiing skills - I'm a decent advanced skier, the wife is a very strong intermediate and the 10 YO son will be passing me before long. None of us are into real steep terrain so places with a lot of good blues would be ideal.

So...where should we go???

Thanks!
 
What dates are you looking at.  If you have snow it's Mad River for at least one day.  I always promote Mad River.  IMHO, it Vermont's finest.  Learn more about the place before you decide, but don't be scared off by it's reputation.  You will all be able to ski it - just not all of it.  It's not a resort and MRG is one of the most friendly mountains in the country. 

If you prefer slick and high class ski resorts then MRG doesn't fit the bill.  But the food is great and affordable, the bar is exceptional and you can take your beer out on the deck which is again - friendly.

If the east coast is frozen, don't go.  Weekends are often packed so factor that into plans.

Stowe has tons of terrain for what you describe.  Sugarbush on the list too, imo.  Killington - not if this is a ski trip, go north.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Wow - lots of great comments already - thanks to all of you!

I haven't decided on a trip time yet but I'd prefer to go on a non-holiday period if I can convince the wife it's OK to take the big guy out of school. We did it last year for the NASTAR nationals he qualified for and he was none the worse for missing a few days.

MRG sounds like like it might fit the bill - we're more about the skiing than the amenties. Bristol (our home mountain) is all about the hill - nothing fancy - but we go to ski! Plus I could get one of those "ski it if you can" stickers for the car. (I'd have to make a run down the most narly trail just to say I did.)

Gore may be in the plans for another trip this year. Whiteface is a favorite of mine having skied there as a kid plus everything Lake Placid has to offer.

I didn't realize that there was a road (Smuggs Notch?) that's closed during the winter to make travel between the two longer than it looks on the map. The road is closed even for AWD with snow tires? How far of a drive is between the two with the road if it's closed (or is it all winter regardless)?

Budget - don't know yet - I haven't looked into the prices anywhere. I'm more interested in the skiing than the amenities as is the family. I'm sure slopeside at Stowe, Smuggs, Killington, etc. will put a dent in the wallet. Not a deal breaker though.

Darkstar - if we decide on Stowe or Killington I'll take you up on your offer - thank you!

Philpug - if you make your way back to Rochester anytime let me know. It would be great to hook up for a cold one. Plus I know where to get the good wings!!
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RossiGuy View Post

I didn't realize that there was a road (Smuggs Notch?) that's closed during the winter to make travel between the two longer than it looks on the map. The road is closed even for AWD with snow tires? How far of a drive is between the two with the road if it's closed (or is it all winter regardless)?
 

It's open to snowmobiles, snowcats, snow shoes, anything snow, but not cars. The drive around is about an hour. About the same as going to Sugarbush or MRG.
post #12 of 28
If you're not into steeps and are looking for a lot of blue cruisers as your original post stated, then MRG is not the place for you. Ditto for Jay Peak. Stowe and Sugarbush are my choices for northern Vt. About half an hour to forty five mins. apart with a lot of lodging options. Wide variety of terrain, but are mainly geared to advanced skiers, lots of natural snow trails. Both of them do require some patience to navigate.
Smuggs is nice, but because of the road closure in winter, it's a bit of a hike from Stowe on secondary roads that can be a tough commute in winter. Slow lifts make for long liftlines on the weekends.
Killington is okay, lots of terrain and lodging, although very confusing to get around. One bonus might be Pico next door. Never crowded, easy to get around, two main high speed lifts get you anywhere you want to go, and lift tickets there are a real bargain.
Okemo and Stratton would be my picks for southern Vt, and probably best suited to what you're looking for, judging from your description. Both are big mountains with a lot of terrain. About 25 miles apart, lots of high speed lifts, snowmaking and grooming, endless blue square cruisers, easy to get around. Lots of lodging options in Manchester and Ludlow. Both mountains have tons of slopeside lodging, or there are cheaper options in some of the smaller towns located in between the two. Can't really go wrong with any of these choices.
post #13 of 28
The general rule in Vermont is that more north = more better.  If you are driving all the way from Rochester, think about Sugarbush, MRG, Stowe, Smuggs and Jay.  If you need to go shopping to keep the peace, Stratton is your best choice.  Okemo is OK for groomers, and it usually has some well-spaced easy bumps, but it's not steep at all.  I'm still boycotting Kmart.
If you haven't been to Gore recently, you'll like the new lifts.  Hickory Hill is supposed to re-open this year as well.

BK
post #14 of 28

If you are looking for affordable hotels that don't neccesarily have to be on the mountain I'd reccommend the Sheraton in Burlington (Nice rooms, pool in a large atrium, airport shuttle doubles as free downtown shuttle although they don't advertise this) or the Best Western in Waterbury.  There really is nothing around the Best Western, but it's on rt 100 so the drive to Stowe is only about 20 minutes and you have access to those restaurants.  The drive to Sugarbush is only about 35 minutes, and this leaves MRG, Bolton Valley as options also. 

If you're family is into crusiers I would reccommend Stowe and Sugarbush over Killington only due to the overall vertical of their runs. 

Okemo is definitely a great place for cruisers, so if you were looking to watch the budget in regards to lodging you could stay in Rutland (lots of affordable hotels, not neccesarily the same mountain atmosphere as the Killington access rd) and have close access to Killington, Pico, and Okemo, and then Stratton and Sugarbush at a greater distance. 

I often ski a half dozen or more VT resorts per season and enjoy each of them for different reasons, but my distant overall favorites are Sugarbush and Stowe.

 

 

post #15 of 28
Quote:
MRG sounds like like it might fit the bill - we're more about the skiing than the amenties.

So is Smuggs, believe it or not. I take my kids all over VT and NY and these two are our two favorite mountains,.Many who ski Smuggs and MRG regularly do compare the two in many regards.

I vote Smuggs in your case and here's why... (but like others have said, go North)

Of course, Smuggs is a resort and you will see more gapers and/or attitude there but it'll far less than any big box resorts. So long as you stay away from Morse (the beginner's mountain), you are away from the crowd and from the risk running into more novice skiers. Along with the many blue-ish and black-ish groomers to choose from (which isn't as plentiful at MRG), you can also challenge yourselves with some of the challenging and gnarly ones (which MRG has more of). The benefit of staying at Smuggs for your family is you don't have to drive when your family is done skiing hard for the day. Most accommodations are ski-in-ski-out and they are very well furnished (including a in-room jaguzzi) and equiped (including a full kitchen).

There have been many threads on this topic (but you're one of the first for 09/10 ). Here is one of my responses on N VT places from a while back...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr View Post

It all depends on your ski interest.

With that many ski areas to choose from within such a small proximity, each place has to have its own niche in the market.

In a nutshell...

MRG - extremely friendly, very rustic fair big mountain with little commercial hype, many challenging runs (on/off piste and unmarked) (cheap)

Smuggs - known for family friendliness and programs/camps, something for everyone with terrains ranging from the most novice to the most expert; way underrated for established skiers; setting similar to MRG when off piste; probably second snowiest after Jay (fairly cheap); great trees (marked and unmarked)

Sugarbush - big selection of terrains; composed of two mountain - one very commercial area and the other more rustic/local (upper mid cost)

Jay - most powder in the East; known for its trees for all skill levels and ages; cruise runs suck (fairly cheap)

Stowe - have heard much good thing about the skiing (steeps and bumps) but can never afford to go; known to be very trendy/yuppish (expensive)

Bolton - the smallest in the area; never been there but known for local and younger crowd (cheap)

BTW, Smuggs and Stowe are equally accessible in the winter but not from each other. A normally 10-minute drive turns into a 50 minutes one. Some local skiers poach the connection (officially closed and not patrolled) across from the top of Sterling. Some take the 1.5 hours or so to snowshoe. Some ride their motorized sleds. Years ago when the two mountains were good friends with one another and when the connection was open for access, they used to offer a free ski day for the opposite resort if you stay for the week.
post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies again everyone! The only thing I don't like about Smuggs is that I've heard the lifts are slow. I'm spoiled by the high speed quad at Bristol - and they just added a second one for this year.

I'm considering taking the trip in the middle of December so as not to interfere with lesson plan my son is going to be taking that runs every Saturday from mid December until mid March. What kind of snow Stowe and Sugarbush "typically" have then?
Edited by RossiGuy - 9/14/09 at 5:58pm
post #17 of 28
 Look for some Stowe ESA Trip reports. You'll see that it can run from "White-ribbon of death" to "best day of the season".
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RossiGuy View Post

Thanks for all the replies again everyone! The only thing I don't like about Smuggs is that I've heard the lifts are slow. I'm spoiled by the high speed quad at Bristol - and they just added a second one for this year.
I hear you!!! Personally, we don't mind the slow lift so much to trade off for elbow room (we've done plenty of trams, high speeds and gondolas). Nonetheless, I figure I mention Smuggs as an option because you mention MRG being the best match for you. There ain't no high speed lifts at MRG either. (although the single is pretty fast for what it is)
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RossiGuy View Post

Thanks for all the replies again everyone! The only thing I don't like about Smuggs is that I've heard the lifts are slow. I'm spoiled by the high speed quad at Bristol - and they just added a second one for this year.

I'm considering taking the trip in the middle of December so as not to interfere with lesson plan my son is going to be taking that runs every Saturday from mid December until mid March. What kind of snow Stowe and Sugarbush "typically" have then?
 

I know the gnar factor and pretty scenery are up north, but if you're looking at mid-Dec just a reminder about what others said in the Ski in November thread about Okemo, Killington and Sunday River for early season snowmaking prowess:
http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/85625/i-want-to-plan-a-skiing-trip-in-november-in-the-north-east
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RossiGuy View Post

The only thing I don't like about Smuggs is that I've heard the lifts are slow.

 


I skied there last Xmas break and can confirm that the lifts are slow and the lines can be long, especially on Morse.  Also, my understanding is that the snowmaking is not as extensive compared to Stowe or Sugarbush.  But having said that, Smuggs has some great slopes!  For your intermediate-level wife there are lots of blues over on Madonna and Sterling and some of the greens on Morse ski like (mid-Atlantic) blues.

 
post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

 Look for some Stowe ESA Trip reports. You'll see that it can run from "White-ribbon of death" to "best day of the season".
Thanks epic. I need to see if there's any sort of predictions for the winter this year. But it's always a roll of the dice...
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr View Post

There ain't no high speed lifts at MRG either. (although the single is pretty fast for what it is)

And that's something that I have to get on just to say I've done it!
post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post

I know the gnar factor and pretty scenery are up north, but if you're looking at mid-Dec just a reminder about what others said in the Ski in November thread about Okemo, Killington and Sunday River for early season snowmaking prowess:
http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/85625/i-want-to-plan-a-skiing-trip-in-november-in-the-north-east

You guys aren't making this any easier! Perhaps I should go north later in the year and do a southern trip in early December if all the guns are down there. How is the snowmaking at Stowe and Sugarbush? Bristol has tons of the fan guns that can lay down blankets of snow fast.
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RossiGuy View Post


 How is the snowmaking at Stowe?
 

Really good. The whole Spruce Peak expansion was built around getting a snow-making pond so now we have more water than ever before. The mountain has spent millions on pumps and compressors and automated York guns. The automated stuff means that they can turn on the system in something like 1/2 hour vs. 6 hours. Last year the limiting factor was the 50 year old electric line coming up the valley. They couldn't run full-throttle without browning out the town (that's why on cold days when the snowmaking was going, they'd often be running the lifts on diesel). The new transmission line is supposed to be completed by this fall so that barrier should be out of the way. Still, it has to get cold.

The other thing with snow-making is there's more than one way strategy for doing it. You can go deep on a few trails, or you can put out a skin and open lots of terrain fast. If you do the skin, you are more prone to losing it all in a thaw and you are limited on your grooming options. Stowe tends to blow deep, so you won't see the trail count rise as fast as some resorts, but you will be on good snow.

Mt Snow's new system is pretty kick butt too, btw.
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks epic! That's good to know. So if it's cold it sounds like they should be in good shape.

My home mountain opened a bunch of stuff fast a few years ago and then it warmed up and they lost it. They've now seemed to go to the strategy that Stowe is using to lay it down deep. Those automated guns are the nuts!
post #26 of 28
Stowe could be aggressive about opening up Spruce this season.  That would be nice and I'd try to take advantage of it.  I think that would be a first.

Stowe can also up a lot of terrain with an early season big dump.  Been there for one of those a few times and it was like mid-winter.

I have never skied Spruce.
post #27 of 28
 I hope the new powerline lets them be more aggressive across the board.
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RossiGuy View Post

I'm starting to plan a trip to Vermont for the upcoming season. I'd like to try to hit two places - but perhaps just stay at one.

Skiing skills - I'm a decent advanced skier, the wife is a very strong intermediate and the 10 YO son will be passing me before long. None of us are into real steep terrain so places with a lot of good blues would be ideal.

For proximity I've been thinking of Stowe and Smuggs as two potential places - but of course I'm open to suggestions - hence the post!

So...where should we go???

Thanks!
If you're decent advanced, with the wife a strong intermediate, and you want to go in December, then I'd say your choices are:

South Vermont - Mt. Snow
Mid Vermont - K Mart
North(ern) VT - Sugarbush, Smuggs and Stowe.

These all have decent snowmaking and terrain.

If there's natural snow, add Magic, MRG and Pico to the selection process.

For decent advanced and strong intermediate, Nokemo and Flatton will bore you to tears within a few runs.
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