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

While some Vermonters would like to cede it to New York, there's plenty of classic New England skiing to be had at Mount Snow.
While some Vermonters would like to cede it to New York, there's plenty of classic New England skiing to be had at Mount Snow. Courtesy of Mount Snow
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Mount Snow has the well-earned reputation of being the closest “real” ski mountain to the urban areas of the Mid-Atlantic. Located in West Dover, VT, only four hours away from New York City, Mount Snow can get busy with weekending urbanites. Miraculously, while Mount Snow caters to families and singles-looking-to-mingle, it somehow retains its classic New England ruggedness, ensuring it still gets a lot of love among the locals. With 85 marked trails, 589 skiable acres, a 1,700-foot vertical drop, and state-of-the-art snowmaking to keep it all soft, it’s easy for city folk and locals alike to find their happy place at Mount Snow.

Mount Snow can be divided into four distinct areas, and conveniently, each area attracts different levels of skiers: the Main Face is perfect for the novice to intermediate skier, Sunbrook serves intermediate to advanced skiers well, the North Face holds advanced to experts only terrain, and Carinthia is a giant freeskiing area.

Those just starting out on skis or boards should start their adventure on the Main Face at the Launch Pad, a dedicated learning area that is a designated slow-skiing zone. If that gets boring, shuttle over to Cooper’s Junction, as the terrain there is a bit more varied and gives you some different options for trails to take, while still being a beginner-only area. Start on the Seasons lift and move up to the Tumbleweed Triple when you’re feeling confident.

Mount Snow's trademark low-energy snow guns create lighter snow that covers more of the mountain. It also skies really nicely when groomed.
Mount Snow's trademark low-energy snow guns create lighter snow that covers more of the mountain. It also skies really nicely when groomed. Courtesy of Mount Snow

For those who have gotten the hang of sliding downhill, it’s time to head to the Main Face summit. Ideal for novices, the Main Face features Long John, an iconic 3.1-mile green trail that’s forgivingly sloped and blessedly isolated, so beginners need not fear getting mowed over by speedsters. Bluebird Express, the brand new six-pack bubble lift, will get you to the top, but locals stick to the Canyon Express, which hits practically all the same trails but can be counted on for shorter lift lines. Once you’ve mastered Long John, jump on the adjacent Little John or Season Pass for a new challenge.

There are dozens of trails on the Main Face that are one step up from Long John in difficulty, which makes the mountain ideal for the intermediate skier or the novice looking for a challenge. However, even advanced skiers might be inclined to spend some time here, as the Main Face is where Mount Snow’s impressive capabilities for snowmaking are focused, and you can find conditions surprisingly skiable here even when New England is enduring one of its none-too-infrequent dry spells.

Intermediates can do hours worth of laps on the Canyon Express and not get bored. Megatrails Canyon and Snowdance are wide enough so you can find your own piece of turf to make turns, even if it’s not exactly the fall-line. Roller Coaster, Overbrook, and One More Time are more challenging, as they are narrower and have a rolling pitch. Working their way over to Bluebird/Grand Summit and the summit, blue square-seekers have even more options, with Cascade, Drifter, Choke, and Lodge. Keep working skier’s right and hit Upper Exhibition and Ego Alley, then lap the Ego Alley lift for a couple of runs, as it usually doesn’t have a very long line. Try South Bowl, Drop, and then take Link to Ridge and the Sundance lift, where you can then tap Shootout, Uncles, and Hop for additional blue square cruising.

At some point, any Mount Snow skier will get tempted by Sunbrook. Tucked away on the mountain’s south side, Sunbrook is set off from the rest of the resort and offers an escape from the weekend hordes. It’s got several fun intermediate cruisers, highlighted by Big Dipper. It’s also home to Beartrap, a mogul run with piped-in music that’s perfect for showboaters, as it’s right under the Beartrap lift. Due to its south-facing slopes, Sunbrook is a great destination for corn skiing on a sunny spring day.

The North Face holds Mount Snow’s steepest terrain, including Ripcord, an experts-only, ultra-steep mogul field, and Jaws, which challenges all comers with its sizable bumps and classic Vermont double fall line. Trails on the North Face are rarely groomed and there’s no easy way down. Olympic is the North Face’s longest run and will leave your legs burning, especially if it hasn’t been groomed. PDF and Plummet are narrow and, more often than not, bumped up. Challenger and Free Fall, under the two lifts servicing the North Face, are show-off runs where you’ll be cheered on or catcalled by passengers on passing chairs, depending on how well you’re skiing. Chute, Second Thoughts, and Fallen Timbers are considered slightly easier, if only because they’re groomed more, though the latter trail is fun even for experts because it generally has better snow (due to snowmaking) and has an excellent vista visible the whole way down.

Half-pipe competition during the tour stop at Mount Snow.
Half-pipe competition during the tour stop at Mount Snow. Dennis Crowley

For Mount Snow’s jibbers, huckers, and other daredevils, there’s Carinthia. Formerly its own mountain, Carinthia was absorbed by Mount Snow in 1986. In 2008, mountain owners, Peak Resorts, converted the entire area into one giant terrain park, with features, rails, and kickers of all sizes and shapes. Consisting of 12 separate trails, all with terrain features of one type or another, Carinthia is considered the best freestyle area in the East and annually hosts a stop on the Winter Dew Tour. It’s no surprise that Mount Snow, in part due to Carinthia, has produced several Olympic athletes, including Kelly Clark (bronze medal in women’s snowboard halfpipe), Devin Logan (silver in women’s ski slopestyle), and Nick Goepper (bronze in men’s ski slopestyle). Top freestyle skiers flock to Mount Snow for the Revolution Tour, an amateur freestyle event, and racers test their mettle at the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. Experienced skiers go extreme with the annual Glade-iator competition, held "on the 37-degree pitch of moguls on Ripcord."

Carinthia’s features include a superpipe (on Iron Run), a mini-pipe (on Mine Shaft), and several runs with kickers, hits, and jibs of varying sizes and difficulty (rated S to XL on the trail map). Adventurous kids will love the “grommet” area with beginner-level features. Future X-Game Big Air competitors head to Inferno for its oversize gap jumps. A best-kept secret of Carinthia is that even traditionalists can have fun here, as sections of good snow can be found on the sides of most of the area’s trails. There’s even a few good tree lines, if you look hard enough.

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