Dare 2b + RootsRated present   An Insider’s Guide to the best Northeast Winter Resorts
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Killington

Killington, VT

Known as the Beast of the East, Killington offers a heavenly expanse of steep chutes and rolling mountainsides as well as optimal snow surface conditions for skiers and riders of any skill level.

Resort Skiing

The Beast of the East
The Beast of the East Ian

Let’s start with the numbers. Killington peak towers 4,241 feet above sea level and offers a vertical drop of 3,105 feet—the biggest of any ski resort in New England. Known as “The Beast of the East,” the resort encompasses six distinct peaks interlaced with an extensive network of trails and includes Pico Mountain, which is unconnected to the other six, but right down the road.

Together, these seven mountains offer an astonishing 1,977 acres of skiable terrain with 212 individual runs, the greatest offering of any resort in eastern North America.

These offerings all add up to a heavenly expanse of steep chutes and rolling mountainsides as well as optimal snow surface conditions for skiers and riders of any skill level. With the advantage of elevation, Killington peak receives an average of 250 inches of natural snow every year. Combined with vast snow-making resources that cover 71 percent of the trails, the resort continually claims the longest ski season in the East, one that begins in October and often stretches into May.

The Green Mountains of Vermont are the birthplace of skiing in the United States. With its clean energy initiatives, award-winning ski school, and hundreds of acres of newly minted backcountry terrain, Killington continues to lead the way in the world of eastern snowsports.

Up, up, and away at Killington Mountain Resort Richard Schatzberger

Despite being one of the largest ski resorts on the East coast of North America, Killington Mountain Resort is expertly designed to make every skier and rider, regardless of experience or skill level, feel at home on the mountain. The seven summits and six base lodges all posses their own distinct vibe and purpose. While certain regions cater primarily to experts, there will always be a friendly blue bailout, so you’ll never feel stranded.

That said, Killington is not nicknamed “The Beast of the East” for no reason, and you are well advised to get oriented. New visitors can take advantage of a free 90 minute “Meet the Mountain” tour to help them get the lay of the land. There is also a daily orientation at the top of the K1 Express Gondola, where mountain regulars will help you consult the map and make the most of your day.

With so many base areas, first timers are often concerned about ending the day miles away from their car. Thankfully, the entire resort is divided by color, and your lift ticket has a colored-coded ticket tie that matches the lodge where you began. If you do wind up at the wrong spot, there are complementary resort shuttles that loop through all base lodges and parking areas.

The open slope at Snowshed, the designated beginner mountain, is ideal for wide turns and snowplows. New skiers and riders can gain confidence on the tame terrain, which is serviced by two chair lifts and one magic carpet. Snowshed is connected via a skiable underpass to Ramshead, another perfect playground for new and intermediate skiers. Ramshead features exclusively green and blue runs, including the Easy Street Progression Park and the Burton Lil Stash beginning terrain park.

Beginner slopes at Killington Mountain Philip Matarese

Snowdon Mountain, flanked on either side by Killington and Ramshead, is an excellent progression peak for intermediate skiers who are ready to take it up a notch. Mouse Run and the tail end of Great Northern are well-loved groomers, and there is plenty of opportunity for dare devils to peel off onto more challenging terrain. The summit of Snowdon is connected to Ramshead via Frolick, a beautiful trail with a barely perceptible grade, so first timers can always choose to bail back to the beginner slope.

At 4,241 feet, Killington Peak is the true summit of the Beast and claims the biggest vertical drop in Vermont. This mountain is accessed by the cushy, 8-person K1 Express Gondola. The summit is a winter wonderland, with dwarfed evergreens barely recognizable beneath a plush frosting of snow. On a bluebird day, you can gaze across the Green Mountains and count the ski resorts visible in the distance, the peaks of which are all hundreds of feet below you.

Sugar on the trees Silvan Hagen

The main mountain is home to some of the resort’s most notorious expert runs and a wealth of double-diamond glades. The steeps inside the formidable Canyons Area will give any skier or rider a run for their money. The swooping blue Great Northern, which traverses Killington and Snowdon Mountain, is long, sweet, and satisfying. Juggernaut, the longest trail on the East coast, begins at the summit and gently descends for a stunning 6.6 miles down the shoulder of the mountain, paralleling the park’s outer boundaries.

If you’re gunning to ski like a local, Bear Mountain boasts a high concentration of double diamonds, terrain parks, and the resort’s best bumps. Countless world-class competitors and Olympians have cut their teeth on the wicked slopes of Outer Limits, the steepest mogul run in the resort, and the notoriously beastly and sustained Devil’s Fiddle.

Bear Mountain is a freestyler’s dream. The 22 foot Superpipe plays host to the Dew Tour and other big-name ski and snowboard competitions. Expert skiers and riders can find endless enjoyment on the innovative features of the Under Armour Dream Maker Terrain Park and The Stash, an all-natural freestyle area designed by Jake Burton, the Grandfather of Snowboarding.

Inbounds boarding at Killington Mountain ian

Skye Peak features some solid and enjoyable corduroy cruisers like Skye Burst, Bittersweet, and the Needle’s Eye straight shot. The Skyeship Base Lodge, located directly on Route 4 and removed from the bustling Killington Access Road, provides quick and easy access to all the action. At the end of the day, skiers can glide from ‘peak to creek’ by following the winding Great Eastern all the way back to the Skyeship.

Skye Peak’s Superstar, a wide black diamond bump run, is a Killington cult classic. It’s home to the Killington Glacier, an enormous pile of snow amassed by snowmakers throughout the season. The ‘Glacier’ has the mass to survive the warm spring sun, and Superstar is often still skiable through June.

On the Eastern flank of the resort, Sunrise Peak is a small and quiet corner consisting of three interconnecting beginner trails and a single triple chairlift. This unassuming terrain is primarily utilized by visitors staying in the ski-in, ski-out villas at Sunrise Village. By linking Bear View to Bear Cub, skiers can access the Bear Mountain Quad, and from there, the entirety of the resort.

There are plans to connect Killington’s seventh and final mountain, Pico, to the rest of the resort. For now, however, it remains Killington’s separate, “friendly little sister.” Pico is a mellow but versatile mountain, with 7 lifts servicing 57 trails and a 1,967-foot vertical drop. The resort is beloved by locals and families who the enjoy the simplicity of a single base lodge and parking lot.

Side-Country Skiing

Dropping into pristine powder at Killington
Dropping into pristine powder at Killington Killington Mountain Resort

Skiers and riders visiting Killington Peak can now experience the immense pleasures of the backcountry, with its technical challenges, stashes of untracked powder, and the luxury of carving fresh turns through quiet wilderness, without ever leaving resort boundaries.

Killington recently opened 745 acres of Natural Woods Areas in the resort’s outer boundary. After a big dump, skiers and riders can sink into luscious natural snow inside these pockets of raw, unmapped wilderness. The Natural Woods are not serviced by Killington Mountain Patrol. By dropping in, you are accepting the inherent dangers of the backcountry and skiing completely at your own risk. Of course, for those explorers who crave the grit of unchartered terrain and the quiet splendor of the forest, such a warning is music to the ears.

The wide swath of steep trees just above Bear Mountain is particularly tempting to off-piste enthusiasts. While it contains no official glades, the territory is contained within the Juggernaut, Bear Cub, and Sassaffrass trails. Expert skiers and riders who are well-versed in rocks, wells, ice, and other wilderness hazards can escape the crowds and turn through trees without fear of wandering out of bounds.

The past few years has seen a nationwide increase in the popularity of backcountry and uphill travel. For those visitors who are seeking the purity and satisfaction of earning their turns, Killington and nearby Pico now offer the Uphill Travel Pass. Free for season pass holders or available for only twenty dollars, the pass grants snowshoers and alpine tourers access to the trails at any time of the day or night. Uphillers should be in full compliance of the resort’s travel policy, and keep a wide berth from groomers and snowmakers.

Off into the backcountry at Killington Hyun Lee

With mapped glades scattered throughout the mountain, it’s easy to drop into the trees and enjoy a little side-country exploration, even if you prefer the convenience of riding lifts. Like the trails, Killington’s gladed runs each have their own personality and style. Some have been thinned and trimmed for intermediate skiers, while others are heavily forested and stunningly steep.

New skiers can get their first taste of the trees on Treezy, a sparsely wooded green circle, then step it up to Squeeze Play, a spacious blue glade that begins at the Ramshead Summit and continues for the whole length of the mountain. Snowdon features four short but punchy gladed runs directly off its summit, all of them black diamond and tight.

For serious side-country exploration, Killington Peak offers a deep swath of steep hardwoods, just begging for expert skiers and riders to drop in. Anarchy, Juanita, and Julio are side to side double diamonds inside one large tract of wilderness, where stashes of freshies are discovered only by the most daring.

The glades on Bear Mountain are predictably wild. Centerpiece, Devil’s Den, and Growler, double diamonds on the Bear’s steep flanks, are a paradise for rippers to escape the crowds and find big stashes of pristine powder.

The quiet stashes of backcountry powder at Killington Mountain Hyun Lee

While it’s easy to be consumed by the non-stop action of the Beast, there is more than one mode of winter travel by which to explore the backcountry. Snowshoeing has recently surpassed snowboarding as the fastest growing winter sport in the country. These lightweight aluminum frames allow you to skim the surface of snow, so you can float through the forest instead of sinking deep with every step.

Bear Trax Adventures, in partnership with Killington Resort, offers gear rental and guided tours that range from fun family treks to heart pumping mountain ascents. If you’d like to give it a try but you simply can’t bear to take a day off the slopes, check out the Moonlight in Vermont Tour. This peaceful nighttime trek through dark forest and across starlit meadows makes an excellent addition to a day on the steeps. A well-deserved nightcap of hot apple cider is provided at the end.

The best snowshoe option for anyone craving a big dose of backcountry adventure is the Bear in the Woods Trek. You will blaze trail through fluffy natural snow as you explore the mixed age hardwood forest of Gifford Woods State Park. If you’re up for the challenge, Bear Trax’s most advanced tour is a quad burning trek from Ramshead to the summit of Pico via the Killington/Pico interconnect trail, a journey that entails 2,500 feet of climbing.

Nordic skiing is another way to float over snow and disappear into the backcountry without sound or disturbance. Mountain Meadows Nordic Center in Killington is the place to leave the lifts behind and discover the power and purity of cross country skiing. The groomed, packed trails wind through frosted hemlock and hardwood forests, across idyllic Vermont pastures, and skirt the banks of Kent Pond, silent and still. Don’t forget to drop by the warming cabin for a hot cup of coffee.

Family

The ultimate family resort
The ultimate family resort Killington Mountain Resort

If you are searching for the ultimate family ski resort, a place where your children will not only learn great technique but also become truly passionate about snow sports, then look no further than Killington Mountain Resort. The Killington Snow Sports School won the 2014-2015 National Ski Areas Association’s Conversion Cup, distinguishing Killington as the best place in the nation to learn to ski. Throw in trailside lodging, heated swimming pools, kid-friendly après-ski activities, and free skiing for anyone under six years old, and you have the perfect family winter getaway.

Although some might find the sheer size of Killington overwhelming, all of the children’s instructional programs, snow-play area, day care, rental facilities, and other family amenities can be found at the Ramshead mountain area. The trails at Ramshead are set apart from the rest of the mountain to reduce congestion and create a positive and gentle experience for first time skiers.

A ski-through underpass connects Ramshead to Snowshed, another region of the resort that is entirely dedicated to beginners. The learning terrain on these two mountains are serviced by magic carpet lifts, which provide kids and new skiers with a fun and nonthreatening ride to the top.

Killington offers childcare and instruction for the smallest members of the family. The Friendly Penguin Daycare is a warm and interactive facility, fully equipped to care for kids 12 weeks to 12 years old. If your tot is eager to hit the slopes, Killington is excited to help get them started. The one hour First Tracks Slide and Play lesson for 2 and 3 year olds can be included with daycare or purchased separately. All equipment, including helmets, is provided by the Friendly Penguin.

Killington has been voted the best place in the nation to learn to ski. Killington Resort

It’s amazing just how quickly little athletes can take to the slopes. While lessons for the four-to-six year old Mini Stars begin on gentle snow play terrain, they will often wind up on groomed cruisers and kid-friendly gladed runs by the end of the lesson! One level up, the Superstars continue to build confidence and work on developing essential skills, with coaching methodologies created just for the 7-12 age group.

The Snowzone Programs are specially designed to harness the energy and independent spirit of teens ages 13-17. Coaches maintain a high level of stoke as students scour the mountain, explore the trees, and hit the progression terrain parks.

The resort is so enthusiastic about little shredders that they even host an official competition just for ‘groms. Mini-Shred Madness is a Killington signature event where kids of all ages take over a specially constructed terrain park. Killington Park team riders cruise throughout the competitors, offering encouragement, demonstrating technique, and handing out prizes. At the end of the day, champions proudly accept their medals atop pint-sized podiums.

Pico Mountain, Killington’s seventh, stand-alone peak, is also a great option for families, especially for those with big kids who want to take off on their own. With its single parking lot and mellow base lodge, visitors will enjoy the smaller scope and old-fashioned feel of Killington’s sister resort. But rest assured, Pico is no minor mountain! Young daredevils can challenge themselves in the Summit Glades and on a handful of diamond and double-diamond runs.

When the lifts stop spinning, set your sites on the wealth of kid-friendly après-ski activities. The Killington Tubing Park is located across the street from the Grand Resort Hotel. The whole family will enjoy coasting at delirious speeds down a multi-lane track. A rope tow to the top helps you squeeze in as many runs as possible.

For an extra special treat, The Killington Grand Spa offers spa services just for kids and teens. A mini-mani/pedi for little hands and feet includes a relaxing soak, gentle nail treatments, and a color polish of their choice. Specialty facials and Swedish massages are designed to helped teens and tweens feel relaxed and pampered.

For a magical evening that your family will never forget, reserve a table at the Ledgewood Yurt’s Family Night. The evening begins with a Snowcat-drawn sleigh ride across the mountain, and continues with a three three-course meal specially crafted for young palettes. Dessert is always a fancy delight-think warm berry sunday, or a gourmet candy bar with chocolate ganache and peanut butter mouse. There’s treats for mom and dad as well- including a full wine list and spiked peppermint hot chocolate.

A young shredder bombing down in a tube at Killington Resort Killington Resort

When it comes to lodging, there are hundreds of options available to you. Have you been dreaming of a quiet mountain getaway in a trailside villa? How about a quaint Vermont bed and breakfast, or a well-appointed hotel that’s close to all the action? Perhaps you’re not too concerned with where you stay, so long as you’re close enough to grab the first chair.

The Killington Grand Resort Hotel provides quick and easy access to the slopes. It is located across from Snowshed, and features a ski bridge that allows you to cruise straight from the front door to the mountain. This luxury hotel features its own restaurant, bar and coffee shop, so you won’t even have to think about getting in the car. Kids love relaxing in the heated outdoor pool; swimming beneath the stars on a cold winter night is quite an adventure! A few soothing moments in a hot tub, steam room or sauna is a wonderful way to wind down after an active day.

For something a bit more tranquil, the Sunrise Condominiums offer the best of both worlds: they are set apart from the main resort area, but still offer that coveted ski-in ski-out access. The sunrise village includes an exercise center with a heated pool, hot tub and steam room, a restaurant and lounge, and even ice skating and snow shoeing on a private trail system. But the best feature by far is the dedicated chairlift, the Sunrise Village Triple, which connects the village to the rest of the mountain.

Killington strives to make a dream ski vacation an affordable option for families. Family Packages offer significant discounts on rentals, lodging, lift tickets, lessons, and kid’s programs. Certain packages offer free lift tickets to children 7-12 years of age. And of course, kids six and under are always welcome to ski for free!

Après Ski

The notoriously lively après-ski scene at Killington Resort is somewhat of a phenomenon.
The notoriously lively après-ski scene at Killington Resort is somewhat of a phenomenon. Killington Resort

Tucked between the sleepy, rustic towns of Woodstock and Rutland, Vermont, the notoriously lively après-ski scene at Killington Resort is somewhat of a phenomenon. The Killington Access Road, spanning from Route 4 to the base of the K1 Lodge, features five miles of restaurants, shops, and bars, and offers everything from upscale sushi and a quiet cocktail, to a basket of wings and a party that lasts all night.

With so many delicious and creative options for breakfast and lunch available on the mountain, there’s no reason to wait till for evening to dig in. The Vermont Fresh Café at the Snowshed Lodge features a hearty New England breakfast made from local, farm-fresh ingredients. Breakfast is served till 11am, so why not grab first chair and get a few runs under your belt before stopping in?

High atop Killington’s highest summit, lunch at the Peak Lodge should be on the top of your vacation bucket list. The menu features entrees that are a cut above your typical ski-resort fair. Try the Miso Crab cakes with wasabi aioli on a brioche bun, or keep it classic with a Peak Burger, served with cabot sharp cheddar, caramelized onions, and applewood bacon. Surrounded by dazzling views of the Green Mountains, you’d be hard pressed to find a more breathtaking spot to grab a bite.

Tucked back in the woods off the Northbrook Trail, the Ledgewood Yurt is another slopeside gem, one of Killington’s best-kept secrets. Warm yourself by the wood stove as you tuck into regional cuisine like Cheddar Mac and Cheese, New England Lobster Pie, or a bowl of butternut bisque with crispy fried leeks. Local Vermont brews and a full wine list round out this cozy dining experience, but don’t get too comfortable—there’s still a good deal of shredding left in the day.


It’s always a good time at Killington Mountain Killington Resort

On Saturday evenings, the Ledgewood Yurt becomes the very embodiment of “Hygge”, a Danish term that, loosely translated, means the act of cozy togetherness during cold weather. The yurt plays host to a reservation-only five-course dinner, with an exquisite menu prepared by Killington’s executive chef. The specialty cocktail menu includes a New England take on the White Russian—Vermont Sapling Maple Liquor shaken with fresh local milk with a smoked sugar rim.

The yurt is not the only place on the mountain where you can take part in a decadent dining adventure. On the summit of Bear Mountain, an old fashioned structure with a glassed in cab may have piqued your curiosity. This is the Motor Room Bar, located in the original drive terminal of Killington’s first four-passenger lift. The space is cozy and clean with light flooding in from floor to ceiling windows. To access the bar, visitors must climb two flights of outside stairs.

This Saturday evening adventure begins with a Snowcat ride up and across the main mountain to the summit of Bear. No more than ten guests will drink cocktails and enjoy gourmet appetizers, artisanal Vermont cheese, and duck charcuterie. This one-of-a-kind cocktail event is guaranteed to be intimate and memorable, the perfect kick-off to a night of festive après indulgence.

Perhaps you’re more interested in discos and dancing than quiet mountain dining. Killington, or K-Town as the locals call it, is considered to have the best après-ski scene on the East Coast, with dance parties, big name music shows, and plenty of debaucherous fun.

Moguls Sports Pub is a popular haunt where locals enjoy affordable pub staples like loaded nachos and New England Clam ‘Chowda.’ The atmosphere is friendly, laid back, and spirited, especially on Friday nights when the DJ is spinning. For a rousing good time, check out the parties at the Wobbly Barn and the Pickle Barrel Nightclub, two venues that have solidly earned their reputation of being a rambunctious good time.


The peerless Long Trail Brewery is a great place to get some post-skiing brews and grub Dan Gray

Further away from the resort, The Long Trail Brewing Company is a celebrated Vermont establishment located in the nearby hamlet of Bridgewater Corners. The brewpub is always bustling and warm, with over a dozen taps pouring seasonal selections and limited releases. The menu features hearty New England fare like sharp cheddar ale soup, local cheese boards, and the best burger around. Settle in by the cast-iron fireplace with a pint of Blackberry Wheat or a warming winter sampler. There’s no better place to bask in that post-powder glow.

Speaking of Glow, why not treat yourself to a spa treatment at the Killington Grand Spa? Nothing could feel better to tired legs than a soothing body scrub or a Swedish massage. The Grand Spa’s signature body treatment is a mouth-watering Warm Maple Sugar Scrub. This sweet, exfoliating scrub is followed by a rich, moisturizing body cream to leave you with hydrated, silky smooth skin.

The Vermont Wildflower Body Wrap brings a burst of sweet summertime to the frigid mountains. This organic sugar scrub, infused with floral essential oils and made fresh to order, is followed by a honey body masque and a relaxing scalp or foot massage. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more invigorating, the Rosemary and Mint salt glow will leave you tingly-cool and refreshed.

The Grand Spa offers a full selection of massage, including Swedish, Hot Stone, Deep Tissue, and special options for couples and mothers-to-be. The Black Diamond sports massage is perfect for anyone who is sore from crushing powder all day. Targeted stretching and deep tissue techniques combined with a cryoderm gel to reduce inflammation will leave you fully restored, relaxed, and ready to take on the next day’s steep and deep.

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