As of the end of October, Easterners have already seen some consistent low temperatures enable many resorts to begin their snowmaking efforts. Killington is even already open for business. Now, traditionally a November thaw will rear its ugly head and send us back into that sinking feeling that we may not be skiing pow until after the New Year. However, history has shown us that holiday mega-storms are always a possibility which in turn can open up the trees for some great early season blower (i.e. Jay circa late December 2012), and every powderhound from this region knows that if you want the real goods you need to head to the woods.
In the spirit of another highly anticipated deep winter, here are our top 5 resorts for tree skiing on the right coast…
#5 – Mont Orford, Quebec
Your eyes aren’t fooling you. Orford is a gem that most East Coasters won’t bother checking out. Maybe it’s the drive, maybe it’s the cold, or maybe it’s the heavy French-Canadian attitudes that will make this locale seem unworthy of a weekend trip. Whatever your excuse is, it probably isn’t good enough to justify the 230″ of annual snowfall, consistent wooded fall-lines, and excessive quantities of poutine to warm you up at lunch. Orford is steep, unforgiving, and very well priced. It offers some great inbounds cliff hits and open trees where it’s easy to find a white room or two. If you can bear the drive, the cold, and the snooty attitudes from nearby Sherbrooke, you’re bound to have a good day here.
#4 – Sugarloaf, Maine
It’s hard not to consider Sugarloaf a go-to destination these days. With Brackett Basin development complete and the entire Burnt Mountain area nearing completion, it is becoming the monster resort of the East. Despite a mediocre snowfall average of 200″, Sugarloaf is sure to provide enough snow to go around by way of its massive terrain options. Brackett Basin is no joke – it offers up gnarly lines, tight trees, and superb sidecountry options if you want to take a few steps away from the beaten trails. The open tree lines flowing from the Snowfields are a blast when conditions are right, and from there you can traverse right over to that massive gladed area for long vertical runs back down to the lifts.
#3 – Stowe, Vermont
A classic New England ski destination, many of the East’s best skiers consider this resort the ultimate for steeps, trees, and sidecountry access. If you can get past the Vail-esque ticket rates, you’ll find yourself with plentiful options on a good snow day. Stowe is full of steep trees and cliff hits, and offers easy access to great terrain flowing from the peak of Mansfield. Classic areas like Hourglass (above the lifts) and Waterfall are some storied runs to test out on a deep powder day. With above average snowfall and a more western-y feel than most, Stowe is and will continue to be a giant of the East.
#2 – Mad River Glen, Vermont
A legend in the east, MRG is full of craggy, steep, tree lines and some overall incredible terrain. Although lift lines can be quite long on powder days and it does have a limited capacity policy, it offers up the most varied tree runs in the East. Due to the fact that they don’t make snow, their base is usually lagging behind other Vermont resorts. This can often times mean most tree runs aren’t ready for shredding until mid to late January – but if you have the patience and can get there on a good day, MRG provides a unique terrain experience in New England. Not to mention, the lack of snowboards really assists in keeping the snowpack quality preserved longer.
#1 – Jay Peak, Vermont
Coming as no surprise for our first choice, Jay remains the tree skiing king of the East. What it lacks in terms of the vertical that Stowe offers or the acreage of Sugarloaf it more than makes up for in snowfall quantity and terrain options. The mountain receives nearly 370″ annually and tends to experience multiple ‘ghost’ storms every season (cough, cough, Jay Cloud) which leave other, even northern, Vermont resorts reeling in jealousy. The resort has been heavily increasing luxuries & amenities, therefore leading to increasing crowds who can scrape up the trails and glades in no time. But in select inbound areas and especially beyond the ropes, Jay veterans know that there are incredible fresh stashes waiting to be plundered even on the busiest of powder days.
Mont Sutton, Quebec
Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont