Driving to VT to ski
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Denis - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 07/12/2004
2,170 posts

I first posted this on the Ikon reservations thread, but decided it needs its own title so it can be found easily.

I too did the DC - VT drive for many years.  Went through a Killington phase but then discovered northern VT which I prefer.  Then my daughter moved to Burlington, was there 15 years, taught skiing at Mad River, while her 3 boys went through the sequence of wonderful kids programs there, culminating with the Free Ski Team.  When my destination was Burlington I’d cross the Hudson at the Tappan Zee bridge then take the Taconic State Parkway north which connects with VT 22 at Fairhaven, just SW of Rutland, then 22A to Vergennes then 7 to Burlington.  Once on the Taconic, traffic and stress are soon gone and the drive is scenic and pleasant.  The Taconic is like No VA’s George Washington parkway.  It goes bacK to the 1930s and 40s when people would take the family on a Sunday drive for pleasure and roads were designed accordingly.   You can go low 60s when the posted limit is 55.  Faster and you risk a ticket.  The unpleasant part of this trip is the I-95 corridor.  When you get to the S end of the NJ turnpike - Don’t Go that Way.  Take 295 for the next 80 or so miles north, parallel to the turnpike.  It’s just as fast and much less traffic.  Take a short, ~ 5 miles, connector (I-195) back to the turnpike just south of Brunswick.  Check the map and pay attention so you don’t wind up in Philadelphia or Brunswick, I’ve done both.  This route is still a pain, but for me the least pain for access to some great skiing.

i left out some important details.  To bypass NYC get off the turnpike onto Garden State Parkway N, then onto 287 E to cross the Hudson.  The Tappan Zee bridge is gone.  A new one replaces it, named for Mario cuomo I think.

fosphenytoin - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 12/20/2017
113 posts

Thanks Denis for creating a separate thread. I do have some f/u questions.  

I may spend x'mas - new year week visiting family in Long Island, NY.  I bought MCP this year and Sugarbush is on MCP.

Q #1:  I am contemplating driving up to VT on 12/31, ski 1/1 and 1/2. Drive back to DC on 1/3.  

For driving back, do you have a route recommendation?  Most likely, it will be a solo trip.  If I am not following waze or goggle map for navigation, i will have to write out and memeorize my routes in advance. 

Q #2:  I am also contemplating to visit Catamount in NY.  It is on Indy Pass.  The place is under 1.5 hours from Long Island.  

If I stop by Catamount before heading up to VT, do you have a route recommendaiton for the drive?  

If I stop by Catamount after VT, any route recommendation? 

For VT, i already booked lodging near Sugarbush, it is a B&B place called White Horse Inn, located right across from Mt Ellen.  

I'd like to visit MRG also but it wil have to depend on snow condiiton. 

Denis - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 07/12/2004
2,170 posts

Sugarbush is a great mountain.  It's arguably the best in the East for size, terrain for every taste and ability, amenities and surrounding communities.  

I once spent 2 weeks on a work assignment at Brookhaven, Long Island.  They shut down the facility for 2 days while I was there.  Fortunately I had brought skis and hit Hunter mountain.  To get there I took the Throeg's neck bridge to the mainland.  Getting off L.I. In evening traffic was very slow.  After that I drove though a blizzard to a small town near hunter where I bailed for the night.  The next day, a Tuesday, the Subaru w. Snow tires got me there for a 15" powder day with virtually nobody else there.  My guess is that L. I. to catamount is 1.5 hours only at 3 am in good weather.

catamount is very close to rt. 22, just a few miles, so I think the Taconic Parkway, followed by 22 would be an excellent option for you.  I stopped at Catamount once in summer for a look around and was impressed.  After that just continue north to fairhaven VT.  From there to sugarbush I recommend taking rt. 4 East to VT 100 then north to Sugarbush.  (The intersection of 4/100 is very close to Killington.)  VT 100 is very slow, but justly famous as a great scenic road through small towns and villages.  It's about 1.5 hrs. to Sugarbush.

The white horse inn is on German Flats road which connects sugarbush south to north, the former Glen Ellen.  North is always less crowded than south and has its own base lodge. The road continues past glen ellen to intersect VT 17.  Turn left and you're on the Mad River access road.  If it's snowy or icy you really need snow tires for that road.  I did it with summer tires when I was young and stupid; I've also seen the road shut down by a car with southern plates spinning its tires and polishing the ice.  

Before GPS I used to print out the key turns and route numbers in large font and keep it on my passenger seat.  The fewer the words, the better.

 

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fosphenytoin - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 12/20/2017
113 posts

Thanks for your response.

Before GPS, I used flash cards, each turn, each route change per card.  Maybe I should do it with this trip again if not relying on cell phone Apps.

I have been to Sugarbush once, spent a day on north and south side each.  Back then, I was a very low beginner.  With icy / skating rink type condition in Sugarbush the time I visited, I only made hanful runs on the same green trail, never got a chance to see much of Sugarbush.  It was a depressing feeling when I realized I was the worst skier in that lodge on Mt Ellen side.  Now I am better, I want to see a bit more Sugarbush.  If I do end up going, it'd be my first time back to VT after ~5 yrs?

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 12/10/2008
2,226 posts

fosphenytoin wrote:

 

Q #2:  I am also contemplating to visit Catamount in NY.  It is on Indy Pass.  The place is under 1.5 hours from Long Island.  

If I stop by Catamount before heading up to VT, do you have a route recommendaiton for the drive?  

I'd like to visit MRG also but it wil have to depend on snow condiiton. 

In VT it can be useful to have a Garmin in addition to using Waze.  My husband gets the previous year model off eBay every couple years.  Not having to depend on cell coverage is handy in the mountains.  Especially in WV. ;-)

Catamount is a cute little mountain with some interesting terrain.  Definitely improved since being bought by the owners of Berkshire East a few years ago.  Here are a couple of trip reports by someone who discovered it for the first time last season because of Indy.

https://nyskiblog.com/forum/threads/indy-tour-catamount-ny-ma-12-1-2019.84/

https://nyskiblog.com/catamount-into-the-clouds/

I'd wait to decide whether to stop by Catamount before or after VT based on the weather closer to New Year.  When I was driving my 2WD minivan solo in VT, there were a few times when I adjusted my destination to avoid a snowstorm.  Not a huge storm but enough that driving would have been more stressfull.  I ended up skiing Sugarbush and MRG after Pico one trip because it was supposed to snow in southern VT.

JohnL
one month ago
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts

Catamount is a very fun locals area. Much less crowded than nearby Butternut.

Some fun old school terrain, half in MA, half in NY. 

A couple of legit steeps, but wide and groomed, so punch below their weight.

I've skied there 3 times in the last couple of years. Worth hitting it, and a very good option on holidays.

JohnL
one month ago
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts

Ok, my two cents on driving from DC to VT. I may have more experience than even Denis on this.

Fastest way to Burlington or K-Mart is 87 to Fort Ann and Whitehall. And generally the best in weather.

You have two driving styles - get there fast and safe vs avoid the crowds but deal with more road and get there slower. Denis and I are in different categories.

Heading north.

Ive given my opinion on I-81 in a different thread.

I-295 vs southern NJ Turnpike. I'm a 295 guy, but the balance has shifted with the new express tolls at the southern end of the turnpike and the car only lane extension south to PA Tpke extension. 295 is toll free, but has more law presence and you can hit stop and go traffic near Philly. I take the 295-Tpke connection south of 195, Bordentown to Exit 7A. More direct.

Garden State is easiest, but you can hit a lot of traffic in Newark. Expert friendly route to old Tappan Zee takes you to end of turnpike, a few local roads in Fort Lee, and Palisades Pkwy. Can be a wash, depending upon GW bridge backups, which you hope to bypass. And far northern NJ Tpke is optionally paved. If taking Thruway vs heading to CT or taking Taconic, then I-287 may be the choice, depending upon traffic and TOD.

Taconic. If you drive faster than 60, a tree or a stone wall is likely to catch you before Johnny Law does. Wouldn't drive it at night or in snow. It is the most direct route to Catamount. North of that, it hits NY 22. I've driven 22 from I-90 to Hancock/Jiminy Peak - purty road, but not fast and expect to be behind slow moving traffic.

YMMV

 

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