Being Vermont’s closest big mountain resort to the Northeast’s major cities, skiers are enticed by Mount Snow’s easy-access location. But obviously that’s not the resort’s only appeal. The Mount Snow staff prides itself on well-groomed snow, so much so that they equate cultivating a consistent snow surface to an art form. The resort is also home to North America’s sole high-speed, six-passenger bubble lift called the Bluebird Express and is widely praised for its outstanding terrain parks. One reader noted, “Mount Snow's setup with a separate terrain park area is great for separating those that like the jumps versus those that just want to shred.”
Great snow is guaranteed at Stratton, but not just figuratively. If ever unsatisfied with a run, skiers can return their tickets in exchange for another day. Clearly Stratton’s proud of its powder, which is probably why the resort has grown to be one of the largest ski areas in all of Vermont. It’s also probably why one reader said, “I just love Stratton too much to check anyone else as the best. It's my mountain and I love it!”
After Sugarloaf, Sunday River has the second largest vertical drop in Maine and is one of the state’s most popular ski resorts. Skiers can choose from 133 trails that run across eight interconnected peaks, and the resort ensures snow so superb that if a run fails to meet your expectations you can trade in your lift ticket for a retry ride on another day. Not that you’re likely to complain: Sunday River boasts an advanced snowmaking operation that’s capable of covering 95 percent of its terrain.
Experienced skiers are drawn to Sugarbush for its expert-level slopes. The park includes two mountain areas and six distinct peaks, the largest of which is Mt. Ellen. Mt. Ellen’s top elevation reaches over 4,000 feet and it boasts one of the largest continuous vertical drops in the Northeast, 2,600 feet. Sugarbush is also home to Castlerock Peak which features Rumble Woods, a steep, wooded route infamous for its cliff drop-offs and rocky terrain. Of course, the resort’s abundance of challenging topography shouldn’t cause novice skiers to shy away. With over 100 trails and plenty of vacation packages to choose from, there’s something for everyone here.
This ski area in Vermont’s Green Mountains is a family favorite in the Northeast thanks to its “Snow Sport University” and full complement of children’s activities. If you’re trying to jumpstart a love of the mountains in your kids, it’s hard to beat Smuggs. That said, the terrain here is far from child’s play. Smuggs boasts the Northeast’s only triple black diamond trail, The Black Hole, which combines cliffs and moguls on a perilously pitched tree run. Spread over three mountains, skiing options here vary from the corduroy greens of Morse Mountain to the steeps and glades of Madonna and Sterling Mountains.
The largest resort east of the Mississippi lies on 4,237-foot Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine’s second highest. In fact, it’s the only mountain in the Northeast where the lift tops out above the treeline, giving it 2,800 feet of vertical, comparing favorably with many western resorts. The Snowfields, at the summit, have steeps worthy of all but the most extreme freeriders, and there is an inbounds “sidecountry” with 270 acres of gladed terrain. (Sugarloaf is in the process of developing even more.) Three terrain parks and miles upon miles of beginner and intermediate trails, add to the variety at this resort, which also happens to be a training spot for members of the U.S. Ski Team.
Home of the alpine skiing events in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, this ski area on the side of Whiteface Mountain has Rocky Mountain-sized vertical drop—over 3,200 feet—making it the tallest in the East. A hike-to area near the peak called The Slides is a double-black gladed delight for shredders, and at the bottom is the dedicated Kids Kampus for the little ones. Although Whiteface isn’t a full-on resort—ski area’s the word—Lake Placid retains the flavor of a winter resort town.
Jay Peak lies in Vermont’s Green Mountains just four miles south of the Canadian border. With about 355 inches of snow on average each year, the mountain is known for having the most snow in the Northeast, which makes for a lengthy mid-November to mid-May ski season. Though the resort may be modest in size—it has 78 trails and just under 400 acres—its steep slopes and backcountry terrain are what offer the most allure for many mid-level-to-expert skiers.
The Northeast’s most popular resort is also its second biggest, sprawling over six mountains with 140 marked trails and six terrain parks. Killington holds its own with the West when it comes to the double black diamond set. The “Beast of the East” has some serious thigh burners—most notably the Outer Limits mogul run on Bear Mountain—but it’s also got its share of wide groomed slopes for the less advanced. The feature-packed terrain parks, including The Stash by Burton, are a huge draw for snowboarders, too.
This “classic yet modern” resort, as one reader put it, is located on Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, and on adjacent Spruce Peak. Although it now has a tony New England vibe, the resort has New Deal origins, dating back to a Civilian Conservation Corps project in the 1930s. The prices are definitely not Depression era—$98 for a one-day regular-season lift ticket—but the mountain keeps bringing people back and the amenities reflect the price tag.