An Insider's Guide to the Best Backcountry Skiing at Mount Snow

Head for the trees on a powder day at Mount Snow.
Head for the trees on a powder day at Mount Snow. Courtesy of Mount Snow
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Off-piste options are few and far between at Mount Snow, but if you know where to look, you can find several patches of very sweet glades. On a powder day, once the marked trails track out, the trees are the best place to be, and if you’re creative, you can find untracked patches days after a dump. For skiers who feel comfortable in the woods, the best options for tree skiing are The Trials, along the western border of the ski area (to the left of Olympic on the North Face) and The Dark Side of the Moon off the Sunbrook quad. Smaller pockets of glades can also be found to the skier’s right of Free Fall and to the skier’s right of Ripcord, both on the North Face. That area, dubbed “The Plunge,” is considered the steepest gladed area at Mount Snow, and is a beautiful schuss through pines and maple.

Enjoy a backcountry day among the trees at Mount Snow.
Enjoy a backcountry day among the trees at Mount Snow. Courtesy of Mount Snow

Few are official trails, but there are additional wooded areas between trails on the Main Face that have been thinned out and are suitable for intermediate skiers looking for a challenge or some hidden soft stuff after a storm. Take a look out for Sap Tapper, to the skier’s right off Ego Alley, and the Boonies, off Canyon Express. Additionally, there are patches between Ridge and Uncles and between Short Fuse and Long John. Carinthia also holds some secret stashes, namely Frontier, between Gulch and Rusty Nail, and Claim Jumper, on the skier’s right of Fool’s Gold.

Those in search of an epic backcountry experience—a rare commodity amongst New England’s mountain resorts—can find one at Mount Snow by heading to the summit and suiting up for the five-mile skin along a nordic trail to Haystack Mountain, a former ski area that was sold to private developers in 2005. Supposedly there are some possible downhill lines to skier’s left, but if it’s your first time doing the trek, it’s probably worth waiting until you arrive at Haystack to turn downhill.

Mount Snow rewards those who are willing to go off the beaten path.
Mount Snow rewards those who are willing to go off the beaten path. Courtesy of Mount Snow

For an even more extreme adventure, check out the Catamount Trail (CT), a 300-mile winter-use trail open for skiing and snowshoeing. While the CT runs the entire length of Vermont, day trips on the trail  near Mount Snow include Section 3, a remote, 7.4-mile stretch of back-country trail that provides scenic views of the Deerfield River, the Searsburg Reservoir, and Mount Snow itself. Combine it with Section 4, which begins at the Somerset Reservoir and continues north for 8.4 miles, for a very long and fun day.

For those who want to stick to the frontcountry, the Timber Creek Cross Country Ski Center provides more than eight miles of groomed and ungroomed trails plus another 2.5 or so miles specifically reserved for snowshoers. The center provides rentals, lessons, and a ski-and-soak package that gives you access to their outdoor jacuzzi. The Hermitage Inn in Wilmington also has nordic ski rentals and access to the Valley Trail, which links up Mount Snow with nine miles of trails. The resort has nicely appointed rooms and a nice restaurant serving bistro-style meals.

Half an hour away from Mount Snow, the Prospect Mountain Nordic Ski Center provides an additional 18 or so miles of meandering trails. When you’ve finished your ski day or need a break, the base lodge has a large stone fireplace and a well-regarded restaurant serving hearty winter fare. Equidistant from Mount Snow in the opposite direction live the 6.2 miles of trails at the Windham Hill Inn. The comfortable inn offers equipment rentals, posh dining, and overnight accommodations.

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