It’s easy to see the attraction of a big, glamorous resort with a tall mountain and
widely varied terrain; lots of fast lifts, snowmaking and grooming; an array of lodging and restaurant options nearby. It’s a complete package all laid out for you—sort of Disneyland in white.
But those aren’t your only option. There are also what I call the “defining mountains,” hills so iconic that if you haven’t skied or ridden them you can’t say you’ve truly sampled eastern slopes.
Then, there are lots of, for want of a better word, “local” hills sometimes near cities, sometimes near areas with lots of second homes, where families gather, kids learn to ski and ride and tear up the slopes in happy packs, adults join race leagues and challenge their friends. Great fun for all.
Lost in among all these options are what I call the “forgotten” hills. Sure, they have a following of regulars—that’s how they stay in business. And for some lucky people, these are their “local” hill. But they don’t have the cachet and all the extras of a “glam” resort, they don’t have big advertising budgets, and very few people put them on their “defining mountains” list.
I’m an adventurer and an explorer by nature. I love to see/try different places. My suggestion: at least once or twice this winter, get out and try sliding on a “forgotten” hill. You may find a gem you’ll treasure forever.
Mount Abram (207-875-5000) in Locke Mills, Maine. A wonderful family hill with nicely balanced terrain with some serious steeps, lost in the shadow of nearby Sunday River.
Saddleback (866-918-2225) in Rangeley, Maine. Saddleback is growing rapidly, with a beautiful new base lodge, new lifts and sprouting development. Get there and explore its twisting trails before it changes completely.
Berkshire East (413-339-6617) in Charlemont, Mass. Plenty of good terrain for skiers and riders of all ability levels to enjoy for a day or two—try it when Mount Snow and Jiminy are crowded
Catamount (413-528-1262) in South Egremont, Mass. Lots of cruising terrain with a separate beginner lift and some fairly serious steeps. If you are looking for mellower, try nearby Ski Butternut (413-528-2000) in Great Barrington, Mass
The Balsams (800-255-0600) in Dixville Notch, N.H. Your own private ski area—miles from nowhere!
Black Mountain (800-475-4669) in Jackson, N.H. Faces south and the perfect refuge when the wind is blowing at Wildcat.
Dartmouth Skiway (603-795-2143) in Lyme Center, N.H. Friendly, fun, with two separate peaks to explore—surprisingly easy to access off I-91
Tenney Mountain (888-289-1020) in Plymouth, N.H.
Hasn’t changed much since I first skied it in 1967. Beautiful twisting trails designed for the contours of the hill, not for easy grooming.
Belleayre Mountain (845-254-5600) in Highmount, New York. The quietest of the Catskill areas—a gem mid-week.
Titus Mountain (518-483-3740) in Malone, New York. Friendly mountain, great daytrip for a change of scenery from Lake Placid/Whiteface.
Bolton Valley (1-877-9BOLTON) in Bolton, Vermont. A seriously fun and challenging hill that spawned the DesLaurier brothers of Warren Miller fame.
Bromley Mountain (800-865-4786) in Peru, Vermont. Faces south, great terrain, quiet most weekdays.
Burke Mountain (802-626-7300) in East Burke, Vermont. A Big mountain with lots of variety, gorgeous views and a beautiful base lodge
Magic Mountain (802-824-5645) in Londonderry, Vermont. This is where instructors and ski atrollers from Stratton and Okemo go to find more challenging terrain on their day off . . .
Middlebury Snow Bowl (802-388-4356) in Hancock, Vermont. This gem has terrain for everyone, isn’t crowded even on powder mornings.