The Ski Mountain
Stowe Mountain Resort calls to the east’s best skiers. Comprised of two separate mountain areas connected by a short gondola ride, the numbers are impressive: 2,360 feet of vertical, 314 inches average annual snowfall and 116 trails with 485 acres of skiing to be enjoyed. Located on Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, Stowe offers Vermont’s most storied terrain and longest (on average) ski runs. The legendary Front Four are the mountain’s test pieces accessed from the FourRunner Quad.
Stowe isn’t solely about the challenge though. The Gondola wisps skiers and riders to the Cliff House, a great stop for a gourmet lunch. Fanning out from the Gondola summit are multiple well-groomed runs that satisfy intermediates and experts alike. Spruce Peak, the lesser skied side of Stowe Resort, teems with gentle terrain options for beginners and is blessed with sunny south-facing slopes.
The Mountain Experience
The first ski trails were cut on Mount Mansfield by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. Since then the mountain has attracted die-hard skiers seeking what most consider to be the best terrain in Vermont, and arguably, the best ski experience. Stowe Mountain Resort’s refined and upscale amenities attract the well-heeled. Spruce Peak features an amenity rich experience anchored by the dramatic and luxurious Stowe Mountain Lodge. Over on the Mount Mansfield side, two day lodges and the majority of the terrain keep the traditional no-frills experience alive. A steady and thumping nightlife on the mountain road has young crowd coming back year after year, while the upscale amenities and broad options in children’s programming have attracted generations of families.
Stowe Mountain Resort’s Ski Terrain
• Beginner: The major expansion of amenities at Spruce Peak has doubled the resort’s efforts to provide a quality experience for first timers and beginners. At Spruce, beginner-friendly terrain, rentals, lodging, shopping and ski school are all within arms reach, forming a holistic introduction to the sport. Trails found off the new Meadows quad chairlift at Spruce are a good spot for beginners to get their first feel for snow.
Current Snow Conditions
• Intermediate: Back over at Mansfield, intermediate skiers have a playground large enough to keep them entertained for days. From the Gondola, Perry Merrell winds its way to the base with a moderate pitch. Gondolier’s steeper pitches bring out the Hollywood effect as everyone from the lift can watch you ski. If the winds are howling, which they often do, ski off the Mountain Triple where lower elevation blue runs, including Tyro and Standard, are on the menu.
• Advanced: Consistency of pitch and large elevation drops combine to keep experts flocking to the resort as its terrain compares to the bigger mountains of the west. The Front Four double black diamond trails – Goat, Liftline, National and Star – are the most challenging at the resort. Goat and Starr are winding, narrow, steep trails with boulder drops, ledges, streams and some moguls. At National, the trail is wide and holds plenty of snow which they never groom to leave it as a mogul paradise. Liftline, often considered Stowe’s ultimate run, is more about tight lines on a half-mile drop.
Around the Mountain
• Terrain Park: Stowe maintains six terrain parks designed for every type of skier from those just cutting their teeth to the spinning, flipping, rail-sliding expert. At the base of the Gondola, the Midway Small Park is designed for those just breaking into freestyle with small rollers, boxes and jibs with a low consequence threshold. From there, step-up to the Lower Standard Medium park, where you can take to the air on intermediated focused features. For expert anti-gravity tricksters, the Tyro Large Park is home to truly massive jumps, boxes and rails.
Expert skiers can access the hike-to only terrain off of Mount Mansfield’s ‘chin’ or summit. Many boot packs lead to different skiable lines that are above the treeline, a rare east coast ski experience.
If you’re not into hobnobbing, save some money and stay at the Inn at the Mountain rather than the Stowe Mountain Lodge. It offers ski-in ski-out access for a fraction of the price.
Après is something of a red herring at Stowe; it can certainly distract from the main event that is the mountain. From gourmet fare at the Stowe Mountain Lodge to gritty establishments on the Mountain Road, Stowe’s options are endless and varied. At the Resort, the Spruce Bar serves Vermont-brewed drafts overlooking the trails and is a popular spot if the boots are still on. When the boots come off and night falls, the Mountain Road is where the action lives. Live music thumps from The Matterhorn, locally-brewed beers pour from the taps at The Rusty Nail and seasonal eats are plentiful at the popular Crop Bistro.
Stunning scenery, especially when covered in snow – a story-book village center and a walkable main street.
If you want the full Stowe experience book your stay at the Stowe Mountain Lodge. The hotel is an experience unto itself. Fine dining, impeccable service, shopping, a great bar and a world class spa culminate into an over-the-top accommodation worthy of comparison to luxury hotels at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort and Aspen in Colorado. It is simply the finest mountainside lodging on the east coast. Down the road, excellent options exist from budget motels to quaint country inns. In Stowe village, the Green Mountain Inn is a high-quality alternative to staying on mountain.
Use the “Explore Stowe’s Best Ski Lodging Deals” box above and right to find your best Lodging choices.
Skiing with Kids
Stowe Mountain Resort has been introducing the sport to kids for generations. With ski and daycare options for all ages and abilities, Stowe thrives at mixing essential skills-based learning with just the right amount of fun and adventure. The BIg Easy is a program designed to teach first timers who are not riding chairlifts yet become proficient skiers and riders. With it’s low student-to-instructor ratio, The Big Easy allows for fast learning and individual instruction.
Lift Tickets and Season Pass Cost
By Patrick Brown