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.
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 sizeable 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.
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.
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.
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.
Mount Snow prides itself on being family-friendly, and therefore, provides a ton of family-oriented entertainment options. On-mountain, the ski school is headquartered in its own building, the Discovery Center, making it easy to navigate. The nearby Launch Pad is a dedicated beginners-only area designed to take as much of the stress out of learning to ski as possible. Cub Camp is designed for three-year-old first-time skiers, and includes an hour-long ski lesson plus day care. Snow Camp caters to the four- to six-year-old skiier crowd and Burton Riglet covers the four- to seven-year old snowboarders. Mountain Camp, Mount Snow’s ski school for older children is also highly regarded.
With its wide trails and gentle grades, the Main Face is a great place to spend the day if you’re skiing with your kids. To mix it up, head to the beginner jump park in the Carinthia area or grab a chocolate-covered waffle from the Waffle Cabin (with locations at the Main Lodge and at Carinthia). In case mom and dad need some alone time, the Discovery Center runs a licensed day care for children six weeks to six years old as well as a children’s apres-ski program which provides snacks and games in a structured setting.
Mount Snow also hosts several special events each year geared towards families and children. More than 1,000 plastic eggs are hidden all over the mountain during the Easter-themed Golden Egg Hunt in March, with one golden egg worth a free season pass. The Duct Tape Derby, also in March, involves equal parts paint, tape and creativity. Kid-friendly competitions include the Glade-iator in April and a series of Grommet Jams that take place throughout the winter.
Taking a day away from the slopes can be just as fun as a day on them, as non-skiing activities at Mount Snow abound. The Adams Family Farm, in nearby Wilmington, provides horse-drawn sleigh rides through the Vermont woods to a cabin that serves hot chocolate. For those who like a little more horsepower, Mount Snow Snowmobile Tours offers two-hour backcountry tours leaving right from the resort’s main mountain. Dogsledding is a blast, and is available at Mount Snow through Husky Works Mushing Company.
Around Mount Snow there are also plenty of options for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, guided hikes, and snowshoe tours. Led by a naturalist these tours can be arranged through the resort, and can be paired with lunch or a massage. A section of the mountain near the Main Base Lodge is reserved for snow tubing on weekends and holidays from 10am to 6pm, and the $20 it costs pays for tube rental and rides up the Magic Carpet lift. If the kids still have energy left, send them towards Ski Baba at Carinthia, where there’s free, lighted sledding from 5pm to 9pm (though it’s BYOS—bring your own sled).
In terms of lodging, you’ll find many options on-mountain. The classic ski hotel experience can be had at the 196-room Grand Summit Resort Hotel, which offers a full suite of amenities, including ski-in, ski-out access to the mountain, valet equipment check, a health club, steam room, sauna, heated outdoor pool, and hot tub. The Snow Lake Lodge and the Lodge at Mount Snow are cheaper options but still cover your bases with hot tubs and free continental breakfast. Alternatively, there are dozens of condos available for rent as well, and for families looking to save some money, vacation package deals can be found on Mount Snow’s website.
For a more quintessential New England experience, try the small lodges nearby Mount Snow, such as the Inn at Mount Snow, the Kitzhof Inn or the Big Bears Lodge, which has family rooms and a game room. For those who prefer the bed-and-breakfast experience, the White House Inn is quite nice but is probably best for childless families or those with older children. Families with pets can check into Layla’s Riverside Lodge, which allows dogs in rooms and features a doggie-day care for your pooch while you’re out skiing. The lodge also has a well-regarded restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
One great kid-friendly option for food (besides the always-popular choice of getting pizza to-go) is Wahoo’s Eatery in Wilmington, which has quick service and good, simple food. Another is the Last Chair Bar and Grill, which has a “Kids Zone” with arcade games. After dinner, the Cave Club at the Main Base Lodge features kid-friendly entertainment. It’s open from 7pm to 10pm and features a DJ, games, and adult supervision. Nearby, a game room has air hockey, a pool table, and video games.
When you are planning your family’s winter vacation this year, make sure to factor in Mount Snow’s close and easily accessible location. It’s one of the resort’s most appealing features. Really, what parents would miss being constantly serenaded by backseat choruses of “Are we there yet?” from their offspring.
One of the great mysteries of a skier’s brain is that it craves empty slopes and crowded bars. Thankfully, you can have the best of both worlds at Mount Snow, as much of the clientele starts the day late and ends it early (or forgoes it altogether, necessitating a flexible interpretation of the term “après” ski).
If the snow is good, it’s not a bad idea to ski through lunch while the crowds are thinner. Your best option for a quick bite is the Vermont Country Deli at the main base lodge for their hearty mac ‘n cheese or a grab-and-go burrito. A 3pm caloric recharge can be found at 1900’ Burger at the Main Base Lodge. Put an all-Vermont ground beef patty smothered in gruyere, bacon jam, and sautéed mushrooms in one hand and a vanilla milkshake mixed with banana liqueur in the other and you’ll be feeling good no matter how badly you skied that day.
If you’d rather join the crowd in the bar than beat ‘em on the slopes, lunch at the Station Tap Room in the main base lodge is the perfect place to begin your evening early. Featuring 24 rotating taps plus two cask engines for barrel-aged brews, the place is built for beer snobs. They also have charcuterie, oysters, and a bành mí sandwich made with five-spice Vermont pork belly and ginger-wasabi aioli. Even with its high-end offerings, the place gives off a chill vibe and you’ll often find live music here in the afternoons. Alternatively, head to the Bullwheel in the Summit Lodge or the Coop in the Sundance Lodge to get that refreshing post-ski beer.
No trip to Mount Snow is complete without a stop at Cuzzins Bar & Grill. You’ll have to get there early if you want a seat, but you might not need one if local favorite Bruce Jacques is playing, as he often does during the ski season. If you need to heal up before a big night out, the Nature Spa is a luxurious indulgence, offering massages, and organic and natural treatments such as body scrubs and facial care.
As evening descends, Mount Snow offers tons of options for dinner, from funky pizza places to fine dining. On-mountain, 1900’ Burger does a beer pairing dinner series, with four-course meals matched with beers from microbreweries like Ballast Point, Allagash, and Berkshire Brewing. For a unique farm-to-table experience, try out Harriman’s in the Grand Summit Resort Hotel. The fine dining establishment serves up locally-sourced items such as herb-roasted Vermont chicken breast with smoked pear, Madeira pan jus, and whipped butternut squash, or seared halibut with spicy red pepper relish, chard oranges, three cheese grits, and local vegetables, all while maintaining a casual atmosphere.
The town of Dover, less than 10 minutes from Mount Snow, offers many more great options for dinner, starting with 1846 Tavern and Restaurant inside the West Dover Inn. The eclectic menu will make everyone happy, from burger-only eaters to seafood lovers. Dot’s of Dover serves an awesome all-day breakfast and if you need a place without a wait for dinner, the menu suffices even if you’re not in the mood for eggs and bacon. But seriously, when isn’t french toast with real Vermont maple syrup a good meal option? For your pizza fix, eat in at Pizzeria La Toscanella, which has pies even New Yorkers appreciate, or if you’re feeling lazy, take out from Tony’s Pizza (locations both on the mountain or in town).
Given Mount Snow’s urbane clientele, it’s not a surprise that the surrounding area has more options for upscale cuisine than you’ll be able to survey in just one weekend. You’ll get a classic dining experience at Two Tannery Road just minutes down the road from the mountain, and even if you’ve got a reservation, it’s not a bad idea to arrive early to check out the bar, which is from the original Waldorf-Astoria. The Deerhill Inn serves a prix-fixe, three-course meal focused on local produce in front of a real log fire. Further down the road in Wilmington, you have not one but two optimal choices for seafood: the Old Red Mill Restaurant and Anchor Seafood House & Grill. Both serve fresh New England-style seafood, including fish, lobster, scallops, and shellfish. The Nutmeg, a bed and breakfast, is open to the public for dinner and its small plates, like the fennel soup with truffle oil or the lamb meatballs with yogurt and harissa, are amazing.
When your appetite is sated and you’re ready to party, Maple Leaf Malt and Brewing is a good place to start. They’ve got tons of drink options and frequent live music performances. Or just head directly to the Snow Barn, located near Mount Snow’s base. There’s usually live music or a DJ, a lively dance floor, pool tables, and other bar games and tasty late night food. On the rare occasion it’s quiet at the mountain, check to see if the party’s at the Last Chair Bar & Grill or the Valley View Saloon.
Mount Snow often gets overlooked. Hard-core skiers head further north in Vermont, while less ambitious partiers settle for smaller resorts in New York or Pennsylvania. But those who end up at Mount Snow get what they’re looking for: solid skiing, great atmosphere, and lots and lots of fun. That’s worth a four-hour drive, right?