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Ski the East

Written by  Stillman Rogers

SKIUSA
Whether clients want to squeeze a few days on the slopes into a business trip or plan a family winter getaway, you’ll have no trouble finding them ski resorts in the northeast. After all, New Hampshire and Vermont are where modern skiing was born -- and it’s still going strong.

Getting your clients to the slopes may be the greatest challenge, as eastern resorts are not close to major airport hubs and there is little public transportation to them. With a few exceptions you will need to add car rental to the package, or at least arrange for limo transfer. The latter works well for skiers who choose full-service resorts, where shuttles carry skiers between hotels and base lodges.

Another challenge is helping clients choose the right resort for their - and their group’s - skiing skills. Look for resorts with multiple slopes and trails for all levels (green-designated trails are for beginners, blue for intermediates and black for experts). All resorts mentioned offer expert ski instruction for all ages and levels, and have full equipment rentals. Most also offer child care, and all have snowmaking and excellent grooming.

Great Skiing in New York
Often overlooked by skiers who think first of Vermont’s and New Hampshire’s mountains are New York’s Adirondacks, which offer some of the best in the east. Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington (www.whiteface.com) is the king of NY mountains, offering the greatest vertical in the east. About 286 miles from New York City, it twice hosted the Winter Olympics. Skiing encompasses three peaks; the highest lift takes skiers to 4,300 feet. Its 86 trails provide more than 22 miles of skiing, with beginner territory in the lower slopes and intermediate and expert trails from the tops. Ski Magazine readers have for years ranked it #1 in the East for off-hill activities. There are groomed cross country trails at the Olympic Sports Complex.

About 50 miles closer to New York City, Gore Mountain (www.GoreMountain.com), has a vertical of 2,537 feet, also one of the east’s highest. Its 94 trails, served by 14 lifts, include 19 glades. Trails on Gore, Burnt Ridge and Bear mountains will appeal to intermediate and expert skiers, with lots of novice options and five Terrain Parks for boarders in the North Creek Ski Bowl.

Closer to Boston and Hartford
New Hampshire and Vermont mountains are easily accessible from both Boston and Hartford via Interstates that zip skiers to the slopes in a few hours. For New Hampshire look to Manchester-Boston Airport, just about an hour’s drive to the slopes, or Boston Logan. For Vermont areas choose flights to Burlington or Hartford, CT.

New Hampshire’s quickest access from Boston is I-93, and just a few miles off it is self-contained Waterville Valley Resort (www.waterville.com), whose 500 acres on 2,020-foot vertical are networked by 52 trails. The village offers multiple lodging and dining options plus a complete sports center, cross country trails and skating. Shuttle buses connect all facilities, providing great flexibility for families. About 60% of the trails are intermediate, with a separate beginner area at the base.

Further up I-93 at Lincoln, Loon Mountain (www.loonmtn.com), one of the state’s premier mountains for intermediate and experts, includes lifts to three peaks, with North Peak almost exclusively black-diamond territory. Newer South Peak is heavy to black and intermediate trails. Along with a small beginner skier area near the on-mountain Loon Mountain Club (www.mtnclub.com), a long beginner trail runs from the top.

North of Lincoln on I-93, avid skiers will like challenging NH’s greatest vertical at Cannon Mountain (www.cannonmt.com), where Olympic medalist Bode Miller learned and trains. New to Cannon’s 73 trails are 86 acres of back-country skiing at Mittersill. Of the total 23 miles of trails, 47% are intermediate and 32% expert. There is no on-mountain lodging but nearby are Horse and Hound Inn (www.horseandhoundnh.com), Sugar Hill Inn (www.sugarhillinn.com) and The Mountain View Grand Hotel (www.mountainviewgrand.com).

One of Vermont’s best, particularly for families, is Smugglers Notch (www.smuggs.com), regularly rated one of the top in the east by Ski Magazine. Its vertical is about 2,300 feet and trails cover three mountains. Lodging and dining are right at the mountain and child care programs are outstanding. Beginner trails count for 19% of trails, intermediate 50% and expert 25%, with 6% double blacks. Smuggs can arrange transport from Burlington Airport.

In southern Vermont Okemo Mountain (www.okemo.com) in Ludlow offers attractive lodging, dining and entertainment options at the mountain. It ranks as one of the best in the east by Ski Magazine, particularly for snow quality and grooming. Okemo has perhaps one of the best trail layouts for novices, including multiple trails from the top. Novice, intermediate and advanced trails are almost evenly split, a perfect mix. Eight terrain parks, a mountain coaster, zip line and tubing park add to its 655 skiable acres on the two mountains.

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