You’re probably thinking, ‘why on earth would I ski the East?’ Well, East Coast ski resorts actually stack up pretty well against their compadres in the West! It's true the snow is wetter and there's more ice but less-than-perfect conditions have kept the soul of skiing strong in the East.
French-speaking Tremblant is the Disneyland of the ski world with its colourful old Quebec-style village and cobblestone streets. It’s picture-perfect and pedestrianised, with street performers and musicians entertaining on the streets. Whether or not this sounds good depends on you, but the 96 trails to ski here are the real deal. It’s a pricey place to stay, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s also one of only two ski resorts in the East that has nightlife worth writing home about. Weekends can be a bit crowded as Montrealers come here to be seen, whether they ski or not, because there’s as much to do off the slopes as on them
A perennial favorite amongst New York City skiers, along with the rest of the Mid-Atlantic states, Killington is quite rightly nicknamed ‘The Beast of the East!'. It encompasses seven different mountain peaks, including Pico Mountain which is connected via shuttle bus. With so much ski area and a variety of trails, from groomers to mogul steeps, Killington’s terrain has something for everyone. There’s no denying that Killington is an incredibly popular place to ski and snowboard, but it’s not just the slopes that visitors come here for. In my opinion, the amazing après-ski is an attraction in itself, and some people visit as much for the nightlife as the skiing. For excellent places to eat and drink, you’ll find countless options along the access road leading into the resort.
Welcome to ‘The Ski Capital of the East’, the nickname bestowed upon Stowe by its lucky inhabitants. Downtown Stowe is a pretty ski village with old world New England charm, surrounded by Mt Mansfield - the tallest peak in Vermont and Spruce Peak. You’ll find some of the most gnarly skiing in the East here, along with luxurious hotels and plenty of pampering off the slopes. There’s more fun to be had in the town of Stowe, which has a vibrant local brewery scene. That’s really just the start though, because there are more than 50 different restaurants and bars to try out in Stowe!
Out of all the ski resorts in the East, Jay Peak is number one when it comes to sheer quantity of powder and tree-skiing is a real standout. But once you’re here, Jay Peak feels so much more than a ski resort. There are loads on offer here; there’s plenty of comfortable accommodation, an ice skating rink, a climbing gym and then there’s The Pump House, a huge indoor waterpark complete with slides, hot tubs, and even a FlowRider! With so many activities available, it’s no wonder why families love Jay Peak. One thing that’s still missing here is any nightlife, so if you want to party, look elsewhere.
Sugarbush really is an overlooked gem, with many skiers heading to nearby Killington, Stowe, or Mad River Glen over this double mountain resort. So why shouldn’t you do the same? Simply put, Sugarbush offers practically everything that those more popular ski areas boast, minus the crowds. It’s also generally a notch cheaper than pricey Stowe, but not at the sacrifice of luxury. That said, Sugarbush lacks nightlife and the time-consuming journey on the quad to move between the resort’s two main ski areas is a real pain. But if you fancy schussing down a freshly groomed slope without queuing for a lift, this could be just the place for you!
The second largest ski area in the East after Killington, Sugarloaf is for the truly adventurous skiers. There’s powder-filled backcountry to explore at Brackett Basin and snowcat accessed sidecountry. You’ll even find the only lift-serviced above tree line skiing in the East here! Without a doubt, skiing is the main attraction at Sugarloaf, so don’t expect a glitzy ski village or many off-mountain activities. It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, a long drive from the closest major cities of Boston or Montreal. That said, the base area does have a light sprinkling of decent lodging options, eateries, and drinking holes, not to mention an annual Reggae Fest.
Whiteface is home to the most challenging ski resort terrain available anywhere in the East, a real powder playground for advanced skiers and snowboarders. This shouldn’t put beginners off though, as there’s a whole section of the mountain reserved for gentle green trails, safely away from the speed demons racing down the steeps. Although, the resort gets a raw deal from some, labelled ‘Iceface’ for the numbingly cold conditions and questionable snow quality that can be encountered while skiing here. There’s no accommodation at the base of Whiteface Mountain, so Lake Placid is your best bet for accommodation and off-mountain dining.
Nestled within Franconia Notch State Park, Cannon Mountain truly is a local’s mountain, where real skiers come to race the black runs and tear through the trees. Owned and operated by New Hampshire State, this isn’t a ski resort of glamour and glitz, but it does have some remarkable skiing heritage including hosting the first World Cup race ever. Nothing is sugar-coated at Cannon, but that’s all part of its hardcore skier atmosphere. What Cannon Mountain doesn’t provide is much off the slopes, so forget ski-in/ski-out hotels or fancy restaurants. Your best bet for somewhere comfortable to stay is in nearby Lincoln or Littleton, both around a 15-minute drive away.
Now here’s a rare breed of ski resort with the motto ‘Ski it if you can’. Owned by a ski co-operative, Mad River Glen is a true legend of the skiing world with only one of two single chairs in the entire country! The ski terrain on offer here is diverse, complete with natural glades, steep bumps, and narrow winding trails cut to follow the natural contours of the mountain. Slow lifts, limited lodging might throw off some skiers but Mad River Glen offers one of the most unusual and unique skiing experiences in the country and is not to be missed!
First impressions are deceiving at Wildcat, so don’t let the dated base lodge and lack of facilities put you off. At the peak of Wildcat Mountain, the greatest view of Mount Washington will stun you before the skiing even begins! There’s no denying that the terrain here is best suited for advanced skiers, but upper intermediates will have a blast too. Another great thing about this place is that all the runs meet up at the same spot, making it difficult to get lost, so family ski trips work well here. Best of all, the famed après-ski of North Conway village is just down the road, rated the Best Ski Town in America.