By: Nicole Birkhold
Ticket Price: $84
Stowe is famous for its terrain, and the Front Four (National, Lift Line, Starr and Goat) on Mount Mansfield are four of the most challenging runs in the East. Stowe also has premium East Coast backcountry skiing with hike-to terrain off the top of Mount Mansfield. Duck the access rope and make your way down the 2,000-vertical Bruce Trail to the road where you’ll need to stick out your thumb to get back to the lifts. A new gondola, Over Easy, gaps Smugglers Notch Road and takes you over to Spruce Peak for some more mellow terrain. With seven feet of snow alone last April, the resort stayed open late and had some of the best snow in the East during a rough season.
The park at Stowe is well maintained and consistently builds large jumps that keep local park rats happy. From the top of the FourRunner Quad, natural hits line the side of the run before you even get to the Tyro park. A superpipe and big jumps will send you huge.
For a killer party scene after skiing, the Rusty Nail is it. A 12-foot ice luge, an extensive martini list and DJs or live music, depending on the night, attract the 20-something crowd and produce a high-energy vibe. If a day trip is in order, the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory is right down the road.
Ticket Price: $59
No one on the East Coast has better powder than Jay Peak, hands down. The terrain and snowfall speak for themselves when it comes to attracting guests of both the tourist and local variety. With over 400 total inches in 2006- 07, Jay is way above average in the Northeast when it comes to snowfall. In 2000-01, they received a whopping 581 inches. This, paired with Jay’s 2,000- plus feet of vertical, make the resort one of the best when looking for the gnarliest skiing in the East.
Jay can be a bit tricky to get to and doesn’t have much in the way of nightlife or park skiing, but when it snows in Vermont, the trek north with a pair of fat skis is absolutely worth it. If you’re low on budget, stay in the Grandpa Grunts Hostel. For a mere $30/night, you get a full homemade breakfast, a party-like atmosphere, and a location within walking distance to the small bars in town.
Lift Ticket: $75 Canadian
With four distinct faces, Tremblant offers something for everyone. But if you’re looking for a challenge, The Edge and Versant Soleil on the North Side is the place to head. The Edge lift takes you to a tree skier’s paradise where, if you stay right off the top of the lift, you can find the steepest trees Tremblant has to offer. The resort encompasses everything from 628 acres of skiing to a village nightlife like only Canada can offer. On top of that, Mt. Tremblant excels at park construction. Forty acres are dedicated to the three parks and superpipe.
The nightlife in Tremblant goes off. The pedestrian village provides a uniquely French-Canadian, ski-town atmosphere lined with shops, restaurants and more party spots than all of Vermont combined. Le Shack provides a rowdy après scene while Le Petit Caribou down the hill stays lively into the night.
Lift Ticket: $76
Killington is one of the largest resorts in the East and it just put another five million in renovations into its mountain and properties this past summer. A cool $3 million went into Killington’s snowmaking capabilities, replacing water pipes and installing new software to make the resorts snowmaking more efficient, which means more snow for you. Also, Killington is bringing in the Planet Snow design team for the resort’s park this year. The company is best known for designing and building the parks and pipes for the Olympics at Park City and Gravity Games at Copper.
When driving in or out of Killington on the access road, it’s hard not to salivate at the numerous bars, restaurants and shops that line the entrance to the mountain. From classics like the Wobbly Barn for the best steak and live entertainment to the Look Out Bar and Grill for local flavor and bar games galore, Killington pretty much has it all.
Lift Ticket: $67 (2006-07 season)
This year Loon opens its first phase of the planned South Peak expansion. Two new lifts, including a high-speed quad, and three new trails highlight the expansion. More snowmaking capabilities and the new Pemigewasset Base Camp are also new to the resort. The summit of South Peak tops out at 2,450 feet and provides an inspiring view of Mt. Moosilauke, Cannon Cliffs and Mt. Lafayette. The view down into the town of Lincoln makes it feel like you could rip down the 2,100 feet of vertical right into town and pull up a stool at Truant’s Taverne for an après beer.
Three more trails will be added next year and the entirety of South Peak will rival in steepness and difficulty with what currently be found on North Peak at Loon and other areas in New England.
Home to Red Bull Schooled and Hike and Huck, Loon consistently has one of the top parks in the east with six different areas for beginners to experts. The Loon Mountain Park features a superpipe, three hips and over 25 rail features to choose from. Locals claim it has the best flow of any park in the East with a creative layout and unique features paired with big jumps.