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.
Due to COVID-19, safety measures were put in place by Canadian Provinces and U.S. States and Counties which impacted the 20/21 ski season. These included lift ticket reservations required to be made in advance, physical distancing measures and the closure of indoor dining. The U.S. State of Vermont which is home to Killington and Stowe, imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine or 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test for anyone returning or traveling to Vermont. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
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.
Bretton Woods is the largest ski resort in New Hampshire, home to perfectly groomed runs, family activities and epic mountain views. The slopes are evenly spread across the mountain for all abilities with a particularly generous number of green runs for beginners. Bretton Wood also boasts high snow quality with an extensive snow making system that covers 90% of trails. Whether you’re a non-skier or wanting to take a rest day, there are plenty of winter activities to consider, including sleigh rides, skating, snowmobiling and tubing. And if you want to stay on the slopes till late, night skiing is available till 8pm on Fridays, Saturdays and holiday dates.
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!
Loon Mountain is a great ski destination for intermediates, families and freestylers. If you’re coming from the East Coast, it's just 2 hours north of Boston, making it a very convenient day trip. The terrain ranges from gentle cruisers to black diamond steep pitches with over half the mountain covered in blue runs for intermediates. The resort also offers snow tubing, ice skating and an indoor climbing wall which are perfect activities for families, friends or couples. Freestylers will appreciate the 7 award-winning terrain parks and the only SuperPipe in New Hampshire.