By Nate Cohen
With short days and frigid temperatures, winter is commonly regarded as a time of misery. But for millions of skiers and boarders, the colder months are the highlight of the year and for good reason. From the burst of adrenaline as you glide down fresh powder runs to the unparalleled satisfaction of conquering an icy black, there is nothing quite like a day on the slopes. But, with dozens of mountains just a day’s drive from Long Island, choosing the right resort can certainly be a challenge. This guide is meant to simplify that process by showcasing the east coast resorts that excel most in three different categories. Recognizing which category you value most is the key to finding the right mountain.
Best ski town: Lake Placid, NY (Whiteface Mountain)
Just a 30 minute ride from the base of Whiteface Mountain lies the quintessential ski town of Lake Placid. Set on a lake of the same name and surrounded by the towering Adirondack peaks, it is hard to find a more picturesque town. And this town isn’t just pretty; it is also brimming with shops ranging from antique stores to charming restaurants. Lake Placid was also home to the Winter Olympics, not once but twice, adding an extra twist to this already marvelous town. Take a ride on a bobsled, admire the magnificent ski jump, and learn fascinating history at the Olympic museum.
Honorable Mentions: North Conway, NH (Cranmore + Wildcat + Attitash); Stowe, VT (Stowe Mountain + Smugglers Notch)
The best mountain within 3 hours of New York
Set in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts, Jiminy Peak strikes the impossible balance. It is close enough to New York to be convenient, while still far enough to avoid the crowds of closer mountains. The resort’s plentiful selection of green trails makes it a great spot for beginners, but it also boasts enough expert terrain to keep avid skiers busy all day long. While Jiminy Peak is far for a day trip, the abundant number of restaurants and hotels make it a great spot to spend the night. To round it off, Jiminy Peak is a proudly eco-friendly resort that maintains a large wind turbine at the mountain peak providing up to half of the mountains energy.
Honorable Mentions: Hunter Mountain, Windham Mountain, Belleayre Mountain
Best resort to avoid the crowd: Sugarloaf, Carrabassett Valley, ME
When New Yorkers head to the slopes, they generally choose resorts in the nearby Catskill, Pocono, and Berkshire mountains. A smaller but still sizeable group take the longer trip to Vermont or New Hampshire in seek of fewer crowds, bigger mountains, and better snow. But only a small fraction are willing to take the lengthy 7-hour trek to Sugarloaf Resort in the northern woods of Maine. Those who do are rewarded with a sprawling 1153 acres of nearly empty terrain on Maine’s second highest peak. And with no lift lines, skiers can squeeze every second of the day exploring this truly enormous mountain. Sugarloaf also boasts other perks like being home to the only above treeline skiing in the east and having extensive access to the backcountry. However, this mountain is not for everyone. Sugarloaf isn’t near a cute ski town, a nice hotel, or high quality food. But what the mountain lacks in amenities and convenience, it makes up for in its lack of crowds and good quality skiing. For the hardcore ski bum in search of an empty mountain with epic terrain, look no further.
Honorable Mentions: Sunday River, Cannon, Sugarbush