For those in search of the rugged and pristine experience of the backcountry, Okemo Mountain Resort boasts 48 acres of glades—forested, off-piste, skiable terrain. And those are just the ones on the trail map! Visitors are allowed to ski at their own risk anywhere within resort boundaries, where secret powder stashes and unmarked gullies are just waiting for you to jump in and claim first tracks.
Okemo is dedicated to providing all levels of skiers and riders with a wide variety of experience and quality terrain. Whistler is the shortest and easiest glade containing 1,600 feet of evenly spaced trees. The snow inside Whistler is occasionally groomed, so that beginners and kids can enjoy corduroy turns in the woods.
One third of the dozen official gladed runs are designed for intermediate skiers who wish to get a taste for tree skiing and challenge themselves on new terrain. Whispering Pines and Everglade, both high up on the main mountain, feature a moderate slope and a spacious white birch forest. Link up Everglade with the lower section of Mountain Road for a long, sweet descent that is half trees, half wide open trail.
The other two-thirds of the gladed trails are designated as black or double-black diamond, with steep pitches and dense forest that demand tight turns and precision. Long after first chair, skiers and riders can sink into deep powder stashes hidden inside double-diamonds like Loose Spruce on the South Face, and Jackson Gore’s Outrage. There is even a gladed terrain park, Broken Arrow, which combines the beauty of the backcountry with playful features including log slides and pillow lines.
If you want to ski like a local, drop from Okemo’s snow frosted summit into the six acres of Double Diamond Glade. On a bluebird day, this southern-facing birch forest is drenched in sun—a perfect place to escape the crowds and bask in the off-piste pleasures of soft snow and quick turns. Jackson Gore’s two double diamond glades, Black Hole and Supernova, are equally rewarding.
The South Face, Main Mountain, and Jackson Gore are knit together with swaths of unmapped, unchartered forest. For die-hard backcountry explorers, these are the true playgrounds of pure wilderness—a treasure chest of silky snow where the aerobic exhilaration of trail blazing and exploration can be found. The deep gully between Jackson Gore and the main mountain is particularly alluring.
As the interest in backcountry skiing and uphill travel soars across the nation, Okemo is strategizing to provide visitors with the opportunity to earn their turns. A selection of Alpine Touring skis, boots, skins, and Telemark gear are available to rent at the Okemo Clock Tower Base Lodge. During operational hours, uphill travel is limited to green and blue trails.
There’s magic in a wintery New England forest, and sometimes the best way to fully absorb that rarefied blend of serenity and exhilaration is to leave the lifts and crowds behind, and set out on a cross-country skiing adventure. The Okemo Valley Nordic Center has more than 13 miles of tracked, groomed trails for cross-country and skate-skiing.
One of the greatest aerobic workouts possible, nordic skiing is as athletic as it is meditative. Glide smoothly over the open meadows of the novice Fox Trot trail, or power through forested hills on the challenging six miles of Ridge Runners. The white world is quiet and snow-muffled, and the only sounds you will hear will be the hiss of your skis sliding through powder.
At the Nordic Center, you’ll also find about eight miles of snowshoe trails. In the past two decades, snowshoeing has evolved from an age-old technique of snow travel into a full blown winter sport. The shoes lightweight, woven design allows you to float easily over the surface of snow instead of sinking beneath it. The narrow, ungroomed trails weave through the forest and around the frozen pond.
New for the 2015/2016 season, you can experience the new craze in snow sports: fatbiking! These mountain bikes are fitted with wider hubs and super fat tires, designed to maximize stability, floatation, and traction on snow and sand. Once an obscure novelty, primarily used to travel between slopeside taverns on West Coast ski resorts, fatbikes are coming into their own as an athletic and exhilarating mode of self-powered winter adventure.
Fatbikes are available to rent and demo at Okemo’s Mountain Outfitter Shop. Give it a whirl on a network of groomed winter riding trails around Jackson Gore. The big, bouncy feel is addictive, fun, and unlike anything you’ve experienced before on a bike.
With an abundance of on-mountain cafes and restaurants, the days of gnawing a frozen candy bar on the chair lift are long gone. After an invigorating morning on the slopes, glide over to the Sugarhouse Cafe for a pick-me-up. Just uphill from the Starburst Six Chairlift, the Sugarhouse dishes up Vermont specialties, hot soups, and custom made deli sandwiches, and even offers a Thai noodle-bowl station. For slopeside staples, take a seat on the heated deck at Smokey Joe’s Outdoor BBQ for a basket of wings and a Long Trail Ale.
If you’re feeling indulgent, Epic at Solitude serves up artisan lunch fare. Choose from small plates like the Parisian style gnocchi with winter vegetables, or buttermilk-fried chicken in a Vermont maple glaze. The Epic Umami Burger truly lives up to its name, with prosciutto, shiitake mushrooms, a cheese fritter, and a double beef patty piled on a brioche bun. If you’d rather grab and go, the Deli at Epic serves up wraps, cider donuts, seasoned fries, and New England clam chowder.
Zen Den Sushi in the Jackson Gore Village offers a healthy and flavorful alternative to traditional ski resort fare. The menu includes yellowtail sashimi, Japanese seaweed salad and a selection of fresh sushi rolls with pickled ginger and wasabi. What could be more satisfying than stepping in from the cold and drinking a bowl of piping hot miso soup? (Well, besides a warm tokkuri of Sake.)
After last chair, local powder hounds can be found gathered around the bar at the Loft Tavern, a rowdy place filled with juke-box tunes and ski-bum bartenders. Here you’ll find the lowest prices on the resort, the best beer selection, and a great burger—the aprés ski holy trinity. The newly renovated Sitting Bull Bar and Restaurant in the Clock Tower base lodge is another hot spot where you can enjoy heaping plates of nachos and live music on Saturday afternoons.
If you’re looking to settle in for a full evening of dining and spirits, a world of indulgence awaits at the Jackson Gore Village. Kick off the night with a stop at the fireside Coleman Lobby Bar for a white chocolate martini or a s’moretini with a graham cracker rim, shaken up by the creative mixologists behind the bar. In the mood for something straight up? Choose from a broad selection of liquor that includes single malt scotch, single barrel bourbons, and cognac.
The Coleman Brook Tavern features contemporary gourmet dining, with fresh modern entrees like Vermont maple siracchi ravioli or grilled fillet minion with black truffle potatoes. An eclectic dessert menu includes tropical mousse frozen in a white chocolate cage, ice cream bon-bons, and do-it-yourself s’mores roasted over a tabletop fire. Coleman Brook also features a wine room, an intimate dining area exclusively for adults and private parties. The wine collection, which includes 7,000 bottles and 800 different varieties, has been awarded the Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence.
Also in the Jackson Gore Village, Siena brings the taste of Tuscany to the Green Mountains. The menu features classic Italian comfort foods like chicken parmesan, ravioli, and Tuscan short ribs that are sure to please the whole family. The dishes are cooked in an open kitchen and served in a cozy and casual dining room.
For an exquisite dining experience in an unforgettable setting, don’t miss the Snowcat Dining Adventure. Travel by Snowcat across the mountain from Jackson Gore to Epic at Solitude, where you will be served a five-course meal beside a roaring fire. The chef creates two brand new menus each week specifically for the occasion. The “Indulgent” menu is bold and exciting, using only the finest local and seasonal ingredients. The “Spa” menu features lighter creations, with an emphasis on health and wellness. Each of the five courses is paired with a different wine, personally selected by the mountain Sommelier.
At Okemo, the après-ski experience extends far beyond exemplary food and drink. The Spring House is a fitness and aquatic center, centrally located at Jackson Gore to help you achieve a seamless transition from ski boots to steam room. Go for a swim beneath the stars in the heated outdoor pool, and savor the blissful feeling as your snow-chilled muscles begin to relax. Top it off with a long soak in the hot tub or a few quiet moments in the sauna.
Just steps away from the Spring House, the spa treatments at Jackson Gore Village are the ultimate aprés luxury. The facials and body scrubs sound nearly as delicious and indulgent as Coleman Bar’s craft cocktail menu. The Vermont Maple and Brown Sugar scrub is a sweet and aromatic foaming scrub that gently exfoliates, leaving you with smooth skin and a rosy post-powder glow. The lavish Chocolate Lover’s Dream facial uses powerful antioxidants derived from pumpkin, pomegranate, and chocolate to leave your skin purified, detoxed, and deeply hydrated.
Pamper yourself with a blissful and restorative massage, a gift to your body after a demanding day on the mountain. Whether it’s Swedish, deep tissue, or hot stone therapy, your muscles and joints will reach a state of deep relaxation, while a sense of calm and balance is restored to your mind. If you’ve been carving endless turns since first chair, a sports massage combining deep tissue techniques with precision muscle stretching will help to alleviate tightness and muscle soreness, so that you can return to the slopes in optimal condition, ready for another full day of crushing.