I love this mountain. It is run by Burke Mountain Academy, a school dedicated to professional skiers with alumni who have won Olympic Gold Medals. The snow can be genuinely called powder with conditions that are almost always very good due to the high rate of snowfall in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont where this mountain is located. The lifts are old and slow but the runs are pure joy for the intermediate skier such as me. Even my Black Diamond skiing husband enjoyed this mountain. Plus, it is a great value not only because of the low lift-ticket cost but also because of the lack of crowds which allows for more runs in a day or half-day if you so desire.
Favorite Trail: Okay, so I am a glutton for punishment. My favorite trail is actually the one I am warning you about below. But then, I am a horrible skier who loves to ski so donít take my word for it! Big Dipper (blue trail) and Powderhorn (blue trail) are good too but there tend to be a lot of families on those trails because they are wider and have more snow from some of the few snow-machines on the mountain.
Warning: A HUGE word of caution about train #1 East Bowl (blue trail). This is a blue square but oh, the irony. It starts out super flat so that you are cross-country skiing in your downhill skis and even pulling yourself up some low ridges as you traverse across the mountainís side. Then you turn left to see consistent moguls at a 45 degree angle for a good half mile. Now, I probably would have been fine if I hadnít been trying to follow my semi-expert husband as he made 45 degree angle turns at 20 mph. This led to me flying off the side of the mountain into waist high powder. It could have been worse had I hit the tree two feet to my right or gone off the path a little further down where the trail borders a steep cliff so I will count my lucky stars that I landed in one piece in order to live to ski another day. Anyway, you may want to avoid this trail whether you are a novice who hates moguls or an expert who hates flat, cross-country umm... pulling. But again, it is my favorite trail because I love a challenge.
Eating: Cafť in Burke: There is a terrific little cafť towards town after you leave the mountain. They have a HUGE veggie burger and tasty hot apple cider in addition to a few selections from Trout River Brewing Co. on tap (See below). I canít recall the name of it but it is in front of the railroad tracks, has a dirt parking lot, and is decorated with a huge collection of salt and pepper shakers that line the walls and adorn each table. With a hippie exterior and big bay windows out front, you will know it when you see it.
Trout River Brewing Co. is a great place to have gourmet pizza (Friday and Saturday nights only) or stop by for a beer tasting anytime! We love this place and canít wait to go back and refill our 1 gallon jug with some Rainbow Red Ale. Oh and the Scottish Ale was great too andÖ Well, you get the picture. It is located right on Route 5 in Lyndonville so you canít miss it since you have to pass it to get back to the Interstate from Burke Mountain.
Places to Stay:
I always stay in Lyndonville which is the town over from Burke because that is where my Dadís family is from. All my paternal aunts and uncles, who are still with us, live there. One uncle was the Fire Chief for many years and still volunteers while another uncle owned the True Value which is still run by my aunt and cousins.
The Wildflower Inn is a beautiful Bed & Breakfast run by some very friendly people. The rates get even better when you rent a large suite and share the cost among friends.
Lynburke Motel (phone: 802-626-3346) works for any budget and even has high-speed internet.
Cost: Mid-week (non-holiday) $29
Holiday: $42 Nearby Attractions: This is where Burke gets sparse. Unless you are into watching maple syrup get made or candlepin bowling, your options are limited. Of course, I have my wonderful family to visit in nearby Lyndonville. But avid skiers might want to check out St Jay Peak just up Route 5 in St Johnsbury for some more downhill fun. I havenít skied there yet so I have no comments on that mountain. Bretton Woods
Who says you canít find well-groomed powder skiing in New Hampshire? Okay, so maybe that is mostly true but Bretton Woods is the exception. Impeccably groomed trails and nice powder (that isnít covered with Mount Washingtonís wind-swept ice) abound at this mountain. Unfortunately, they know what they have so the price is pretty steep. The addition of crowds on weekends and holidays make this a pretty expensive mountain to ski when you divide your lift ticket by the number of runs. However, the longer lift is pretty speedy so the lines move fast. And if you can stop in during the week, the cost value ratio improves greatly. My semi-expert husband and novice snowboarding cousin also loved this mountain so it is great for the entire family.
Favorite Trail: Every trail on this mountain is terrific! But I love In Between (blue trail) because it is narrow with just the slightest hint of moguls as you travel between century old evergreens. I also adore the West Mountain because it is far less crowded and has some amazingly scenic trails. My favorite run on the west side is to take the Bethlehem Express High Speed Quad Chair up to the top of Bigger Ben and then traverse to Fabyanís Express (blue trail) which I take down to Fabyanís Express Triple Chair. This fast chair does not slow down to let you on so be ready. I then traverse across the mountain on Outer Bounds (green trail) past the Zephyr High Speed Quad Chair drop-off which is an alternate way to this point on the mountain. Here I pick up Avalon (green trail) where it splits from Stillwater (green trail) and head down mountain to Crawfordís Ridge (green trail). I love the fact that 9 times out of 10, I will make the run down Avalon with no one in site.
Warning: Snowboarders will want to stay clear of Outer Bounds (green trail) and Crawfordís Ridge (green trail) mentioned above because they are mostly flat with only a few downward sections to help you gain speed. If it is open, you can take Aggassiz (blue trail) to West Mountain Express High Speed Quad Chair in order to ride West Mountain. BEWARE: Apline Gardens (green trail) and Abelís Traverse (green trail) are often closed leaving no green trails on this part of the mountain. That might seem like no big deal to you intermediate skiers but believe me, Jacobís Ladder (blue trail) is no blue! It goes straight down (and I mean 175 degrees!) through moguls. My novice snowboarding cousin stopped her board all the way down without a problem but I had to actually ski down it without wetting myself.
Cost: Mid-week / non-holiday $52 Adult / $41 Teen / $31 Junior
Weekend / Holiday$59 Adult / $48 Teen / $36 Junior
See their website for Special Offers such as their College Card. Wachusett Mountain
Address: 499 Mountain Road, Princeton, MA Phone: 978-464-2300 If you live in Massachusetts, this mountain is close by. It is barely a mountain but it makes the novice feel like an intermediate and an intermediate feel like a pro. I always leave Wachusett bragging that I can ski black diamonds. Of course, I really canít but Wachusett is like Disney World in that way, it makes dreams come true. So pretend like you are a better skier than you are and get out there because skiing is skiing even if Wachusett is only a few feet taller than a hill.
Favorite Trail: Anywhere the novices arenít! Salamander Cutoff (black trail) is actually kind of fun. Take Smith Walton (black Trail) or 10th Mountain Trail (black trail) there from Lift B to avoid the crowds on the Family Trails.
Warning: Well there are no trails to warn you about so I will remind you to plan your ski days for mid-week whenever possible. Fridays are school field trip days at Wachusett so they are extra busy all day. Wednesdays are an excellent day to hit the slopes at Wachusett because there are no lines and no novices falling in front of you. Oh, I just found out my expert snowboarder nephew, Ben, fell and broke his collarbone on Wachusett. How he did that on this hill is beyond me. Just kidding Ben! I know you are a great snowboarder. It could have happened to anyone... really.
Address: Exit 32, off I-93, Lincoln, NH Phone: 800-229-LOON
Favorite Trail: I really can't claim a favorite at this mountain yet. The two times I have skied this mountain, I was a beginner to novice.
Warning: If you are a beginner, take a lesson and avoid Sarsaparilla (rope tow bunny slope) because it is too flat to be safe for even a beginner, i.e. it just makes you fall more than you would already. Head to Snubber and have fun! Once you get your ski-legs, use your lower mountain pass to take Kancamangus Detachable Quad to Lower Speakeasy (blue trail).
Cost: Weekday: $52 Adult / $42 Teen / $32 Junior
Weekends & Holidays: $59 Adult / $49 Teen / $37 Junior
Address: Franconia Notch Pkwy., Franconia, NH 03580 Phone: 603-823-7771 I really learned to ski on this mountain. The icy conditions were tremendously helpful in that it made skiing other mountains a breeze and prepared me for handling the rare icy patches found on some of the mountains listed above. In contrast to other mountains, Cannon is covered in ice. The thin layer of snow they groom over the rock-hard ice that comprises this mountain is usually gone after 10:30 a.m. so rise early if you want any semblance of powder. Otherwise, enjoy the ice patches knowing that you will be a better skier for it when you visit your next mountain with actual snow cover!
Favorite Trail: The Brookside pass allows you access to a beginner's side of the mountain that was especially built for those rising novices who are ready to try a longer trail without the fear of skiing off a cliff or running into hidden moguls. Moose Alley (blue trail), Turkey Trot (blue trail), and Deer Run (greeen trail) give you ample practice as you are leanring the ropes of this icy mountain.
Warning: The first 200 feet of Turkey Trot is pretty steep. With the notorious Cannon ice underneath a thin layer of snow, it can make even the best intermediate skier take a tumble. But you can have a lot of fun perfecting your fall and preparing for steep and icy patches on other mountains so rise to the challenge and enjoy!
Cost: Weekdays: Full-Day $38 Adult / $25 College & Under 18 ~or~ Half-Day $24 / $20
Weekends & Holidays: Full-Day $49 Adult / $38 College & Under 18 ~or~ Half-Day $35 / $25
Brookside passes are $20 for Everyone - All Day! Waterville Valley
Address: 1 Ski Area Road, Waterville Valley, NH Phone: 800-GO VALLEY I had visited this mountain in the summer and enjoyed the kayaking, ice skating, and swimming pool of this cute resort town. So naturally, I begged my husband to take me here when I felt I had reached intermediate skiing level. What a disappointment! The trails were far too crowded for a weekday of skiing and ice abounded on the intermediate trails. I don't mind falling on ice at Cannon where my lift ticket is priced accordingly but for the steep prices at Waterville I exoect better. There are too many ski mountains out there that are better and cheaper than Waterville for me to bother to return. However, I hear that skiing the trails early in the morning before the crowds show up can make the difference between this mountain being a disappointing waste of money and a pleasure to ski. So if you are going to ski Waterville, my advice is to get there early before it all goes to ummm... ice.
Favorite Trail: After that introduction, it is probably obvious that I don't have a favorite trail here. However, I do LOVE the restaraunt over the swimming pool / recreation area off the main road in the resort town. May I recommend the Baked Tofu and Vegetables?
Warning: Super-icy trails in the afternoon make this mountain a waste of precious skiing money.
Cost: Weekdays $44 Adult / $34 Teen / $24 Junior
Weekends & Holidays: $49 Adult / $39 Teen / $29 Junior
Add A Day tickets are available at a discount.