Good east coast skiing for a relatively new skiier?
December 7, 2011 1:51 PM   Subscribe

I've skiied a total of six days on the west coast. I live on the east coast, but need help finding a place to ski that's somewhat nearby (6 hrs drive), has trails on my level, won't be filled with people, and would be good for a long weekend. Got any recommendations? More details inside...

I currently live in the NYC metro area. I learned to ski in Colorado (Aspen - Buttermilk, for what it's worth) and have skiied a total of six days out there. By the end of my sixth day I was doing mostly easier blue runs and was more or less sure of myself, but I was still a little shaky.

But I don't have time to make it out there this year, so we're looking for places to go here on the east coast. I've never skiied on the east coast, but I know the conventional wisdom that east coast skiing sucks and all that. Still, just being out on the slopes would be nice for a long weekend. The problem is that, as far as I can tell, all of the ski areas near the NYC metro area are jam packed with people, are entirely ice, and all that.

Basically I'm looking for a place in the northeast US where I'll be able to ski on my level without humiliating myself in front of thousands of people, being bullied on the hills, or to be totally out of my league. I have a friend who goes to Stratton quite a bit, but she's far more experienced than I am. I've got a car, so really anywhere within, say, six hours of NYC would be good. I don't own skis (and my girlfriend doesn't have her snowboard here) so we'd need to rent as well. So.. anyone got an ideas?
posted by gchucky to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
the crowds are unavoidable for the most part as this is the east coast, and there are a lot of people and not a lot of slope. vermont has some nice slopes and variety though, killington is pretty big mountain with some long easy trails and some places where you can get out of the way of the masses (Rams Head peak). Hunter is close but every time ive been there it's been really crowded. I've been to a few of the slopes over in PA but since they dont really have high peaks, theres gonna be a large lift-to-ski ratio, though it is cheaper and much closer.

also, watch out for icy spots wherever you go!
posted by Mach5 at 2:10 PM on December 7, 2011

First, East Coast Skiing Does Not Suck. It's just different. and more squirrely. and you dont' get 4 ft of glorious powder, you get dust on crust. But man, you can FLY down east coast blue ice...

Anyways, to the question:

Plattekill in the catskills would be great for you. (bonus: amazing bar). it's 3 hrs out of NYC, not as insanely packed as the rest of the places in the Catskills (mostly because it's a bit smaller, and family run, but you don't sound like you need the vertical). Maybe Bellayre as well- although I haven't been there in years.

Also try looking into Bromley in VT (5 hrs out of NYC). It's my favorite place to recommend to new-ish skiers. It's the only mtn that faces south, so it's always sunny (and therefore more pleasant/better visibility).

Keep in mind, that on the east coast, the whole skiing industry is very very very different than out west. It's a business, but it's a different business. You'll get trees and harder packed snow, but you'll also get a lot more quaint little towns and a huge variety of income levels on the slopes (particularly the further into VT and NH you go). It's not all super high speed quads and perfectly groomed snow. It's got character.

Hunter Mtn does have it's benefits. You can get pretty decent deals, and there's a bus that goes there from union sq on weekends.
posted by larthegreat at 2:40 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mad River Glenn is within your range, and, to my understanding, is somewhat less crowded.
posted by dpx.mfx at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2011


It is amazing, but it is not a mountain for beginners. And they Absolutedly Do Not allow snowboarding. (They don't really groom or make snow, there are 2 chair lifts, they don't cater to anyone's needs but those of crotchety east coast skiers. Less crowded yes, cheaper yes, but not what you want for your first east coast ski experiance. Go there next year when you are more confident in your ability to deal with rocks, tree branches, ice and snow all in the same run)
posted by larthegreat at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll recommend Windham Mountain in the Catskills, it's like Hunter's bigger less crowded brother. You might also like Belleayre Mountain, not far away, it's run by NYS and less commercialized.

Jesus, not Mad River Glen.
posted by nicwolff at 3:32 PM on December 7, 2011

And as to ice: just wait for a snow day and play hooky – drive up early or the night before – and you'll get plenty of nice fluffy snow... over firmly packed snow, over ice. But no, you'll never see knee-deep powder like out West.
posted by nicwolff at 3:39 PM on December 7, 2011

FWIW I really like skiing at Ragged Mountain in Danbury, NH. It certainly isnt a "resort" but more of a family mountain. But, it isnt very crowded and conditions are decent.

I agree with peoples assesment of Mad River. It is pretty old school. Unless you are a dyed in the wool east coast skier then pass on it.

You might also want to look at Okemo, Mt. Snow, or Sugarbush.
posted by burlsube at 6:44 PM on December 7, 2011

If you can swing the time to get as far as Killington or north you'll really start to get out of the crowds and into areas with a lot better snow too. Come on up to central and northern Vermont.
posted by meinvt at 9:18 PM on December 7, 2011

It's on the edge of your 6-hour range, but Mt. Abram in Maine is a low-key beginner-friendly mountain with some nice runs. It's where my family learned to ski (all at the same time) and although I might say now that Sugarloaf is my favorite mountain in the area, Mt. Abram was the perfect place to get started.

Here's a blurry video of my daughter learning to ski - obviously one of the easy trails, but a nice long one.

We haven't had a lot of snow yet so I wouldn't plan this as a December holiday trip, but I assume we'll get snow eventually!
posted by mikepop at 6:13 AM on December 8, 2011

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