MLK Weekend - Northern Vermont
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skithealleghenies
7 months ago
Member since 01/22/2017 🔗
24 posts

Hi Everyone -

I need some advice from those of you who have more experience skiing up in northern Vermont. I'm going to be up in Burlington for the long MLK weekend and am looking for some recommendations on ski areas to go to that will be less crowded than the others. I understand it is a holiday weekend and most places will probably be a madhouse, but if anyone has any ideas on where to go where it may be less of a madhouse, then I'd really appreciate it. I'm looking to stay pretty much within 2 hours of Burlington if possible. I have an Epic Pass but figured I'll avoid Stowe this weekend since it will probably be one of the most crowded up there. Maybe I'll give it a try at the end of the weekend on Monday.

Thanks in advance!

snowsmith - DCSki Supporter 
7 months ago
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,441 posts
How about Bolton Valley. Short distance from Burlington.
Denis - DCSki Supporter 
7 months ago (edited 7 months ago)
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,281 posts
MLK weekend is tough.  Bolton, as mentioned, Sugarbush North, always much less crowded than south, and Smugglers Notch, a little harder to get to, come to mind.  Jay Peak, about 2 hrs. from Burlington, draws equal numbers of Canadians and Americans and they don’t celebrate MLK, perhaps it’s all different with Covid.  A lot depends on what kind of skiing you are looking for, green, blue, black, on piste or off, own gear or renting.  Willing to wait in lift lines for just a few runs on really exciting and challenging terrain, or many fast cruising laps. Without knowing these things it’s hard to suggest a plan.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
7 months ago (edited 7 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,822 posts

Looks like you could get a Mt Ellen-only (i.e. Sugarbush North) lift ticket off the Sugarbush website for $40 on jan 13 (every thursday is $40), $60 on jan 14, $89 jan 15, $79 jan 16 and 17.  In addition to the good suggestion of Bolton Valley, another possibility for low crowds out of Burlington is Middlebury Snowbowl.  It's smaller than Bolton Valley, but supposed to be a decent mountain.  Also, you need to keep enquiring about Stowe if you have a full epicpass without blackout dates.   I know from experience that in CO and UT blackout holiday dates are actually much less crowded than regular weekends because so many locals only buy the local-epicpass.  I kind of doubt that same dynamic is true in VT, but you should try to find out.

More on Mt. Ellen-only:  it could be a fine possibility for your situation.  It may have less trails, but more vertical than the main part of Sugarbush (Lincoln Peak).  It is traditionally less crowded than Lincoln Peak, where most of the base lodging is at Sugarbush.  For many years Sugarbush has offered a Mt. Ellen-only ticket to encourage spreading of crowds off Lincoln Peak and onto Mt Ellen.  Mt. Ellen's top elevation is 4,083 feet (tied for third highest in the state with Camel's Hump), and it has one of the largest continuous vertical drops in Vermont at 2,600 feet. Several states and southern Quebec are visible from the summit of Mt. Ellen.

Formerly an independent resort (founded by Walt Elliot in the early 1960s), Mt. Ellen has Sugarbush's steepest run, FIS. Mt. Ellen also has a secondary peak, Inverness Peak, which is home to the Green Mountain Valley School's (GMVS) racing slopes Inverness, and Brambles.  Mt. Ellen is also home to Sugarbush's terrain park. 

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RodneyBD - DCSki Supporter 
7 months ago
Member since 12/21/2004 🔗
224 posts
No place will be crowded Monday. As you know coverage isn’t exactly awesome up there right now so plan accordingly. When everything is open Bolton is a fun place to ski with amazing views of the lake. Jay is somewhere every die hard should hit once but again, snowpack is behind schedule. Don’t forget Whiteface is 2 hours from Burlington and I’d wager will be pretty low key for a holiday weekend. 
bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter 
7 months ago (edited 7 months ago)
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
730 posts

Skithealleghenies, I’ve skiednorthernvermont a number of times and agree with the good advice and details posted here.  

Keep Burke Mountain in mind also - just under 2 hours from Burlington.  Burke is a good-sized mountain with plenty of challenges.  Greens on the lower mountain, blues and gnarly blacks up higher. Often overlooked.

I’d also strongly consider Bolton and/or Mt Ellen (once called Sugarbush North) for MLK.  And yes to Monday - the crowds should be considerably diminished, esp in the afternoon.

Have a great trip, and please post a trip report.  I bet many of us will be interested in what you experience re. crowds and conditions.

Woody

skithealleghenies
7 months ago
Member since 01/22/2017 🔗
24 posts

Denis wrote:

A lot depends on what kind of skiing you are looking for, green, blue, black, on piste or off, own gear or renting.  Willing to wait in lift lines for just a few runs on really exciting and challenging terrain, or many fast cruising laps. Without knowing these things it’s hard to suggest a plan.

Good questions. We have our own gear. I’m looking for a decent variety of trails. Mainly on piste. I’ve skied for many years so would like some blacks and blue cruisers, but I’m going with a few beginners so we’ll need greens as well. Of course, since it’s a holiday weekend, I can’t complain too much about waiting in lift lines. Just trying to avoid excessively long ones. Definitely not expecting to get in as many laps as I would mid-week, but definitely want more than just a few.

Denis - DCSki Supporter 
7 months ago
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,281 posts

skithealleghenies wrote:

Denis wrote:

A lot depends on what kind of skiing you are looking for, green, blue, black, on piste or off, own gear or renting.  Willing to wait in lift lines for just a few runs on really exciting and challenging terrain, or many fast cruising laps. Without knowing these things it’s hard to suggest a plan.

Good questions. We have our own gear. I’m looking for a decent variety of trails. Mainly on piste. I’ve skied for many years so would like some blacks and blue cruisers, but I’m going with a few beginners so we’ll need greens as well. Of course, since it’s a holiday weekend, I can’t complain too much about waiting in lift lines. Just trying to avoid excessively long ones. Definitely not expecting to get in as many laps as I would mid-week, but definitely want more than just a few.

I think any of the places named thus far would serve your needs very well.  Have fun.  Send us a report. 

bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter 
7 months ago (edited 7 months ago)
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
730 posts

Skitheallegnenies  and others,

You might find the capsule descriptions of ski areas on Skibum.net both useful and enjoyable for trip planning, esp to regions new to you.

Here, for instance, are the descriptions of Vermont ski areas/. Skibum Vermont

Woody

mook21
7 months ago
Member since 12/30/2013 🔗
47 posts
Smuggler's Notch controls the number of lift tickets sold each day. If the full mountain is open, lines are never bad
oldensign - DCSki Columnist
7 months ago
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
456 posts

Yes. Burke.... No one goes there.

See my rant below on the area. 

 dcski.com

JohnL
7 months ago
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,539 posts

Check terrain status - Vermont is really, really, really hurting this year.

Maybe some weekend snow, but not likely to open up more terrain.

Good advice on this thread, but this year all bets are off. Weather and Covid.

bob
7 months ago
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
707 posts

Whiteface???

It's a tad more than 2 hours. The ferry ride across Lake Champlain is a bonus and fun.

skithealleghenies
6 months ago
Member since 01/22/2017 🔗
24 posts

Hi Everyone -

First off, I want to thank you all for the great recommendations. As always, you gave great, practical advice. I wanted to take this time to give you all a report on my trip up there in Vermont.

I ended up going to Bolton Valley on Sunday (1/16) and Stowe on Monday (1/17). As expected, they were two completely different experiences, but neither in a bad way. I have attached several photos below. All bluebird photos are at Bolton, all powder photos are at Stowe.

When I was there at Bolton, it was the day before the winter storm made it up there, so not much was open and they were definitely in need of more coverage. In fact, they only had 17 trails open and I would say only 4-5 real top to bottom runs. Not much open, but there were beautiful bluebird skies and enough to make a fun day of it. The lift lines were long for Bolton since only a few lifts were open, but I never really had to wait more than 10 min max. Trails certainly had their icy spots. Again, they were really in need of the good dumping they got the next day. I checked the trail count after the storm and it bumped up into the 40's. Good for them. It was great being able to ski at and support an old "mom and pop" type place like Bolton. Very lowkey and relaxing there.

The next day was Stowe and my goodness was it absolutely dumping on my way up there from Burlington. Definitely had me excited. They reported around 9" on Monday morning and it certainly did not disappoint. Powder stashes all over the mountain. I was really wondering how the Monday crowds would be since the storm arrived in VT at the end of the holiday weekend. Wasn't sure if people would be leaving early on Sunday to avoid it or extending their trips further to enjoy another full day. There were definitely some lines on the gondola and quad, but honestly, I don't think I ever waited more than 10-12 min max. Those lines really thinned out as the day went on. As the afternoon rolled around, the heaviest snow had mainly stopped and most of the terrain had been pretty well chopped up. Lots of bumps and even some ice started to be exposed between those bumps. So after that, I decided to call it a day. Definitely a good workout. I had to leave the next day, but I'm sure Tuesday was "epic" once the groomers got a chance to get out there and do their thing.

All in all, a really great trip. That storm definitely helped Vermont's snowfall deficit and boosted trail counts. Thanks again for the advice. Cheers to the rest of the season being filled with plenty more snow!1642870935_obtillyfvkjv.jpg1642870943_hrkbsepzapfr.jpg1642870952_pbdjswjnywdh.jpg1642870964_xwyciigpfxub.jpg1642870975_ahzgvkxldnwq.jpg1642870985_hbpjbbonuyhg.jpg1642870991_nfyavobdmedf.jpg

Denis - DCSki Supporter 
6 months ago
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,281 posts
Nice pictures.  They bring back memories.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,822 posts
Nice.  You got the ying and the yang of skiing with those two days!
marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
6 months ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,812 posts
Thanks for the trip report!
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