Questions About Stowe
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GRK
January 9, 2008
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
We are considering taking a road trip during week of March 25th to Stowe...we would be skiing mid-week. All I know about it is from the web site and a brochure but my 11 year old has her heart set on it, and it looks pretty good to me as well. We would be skiing mid-week.

We ski greens and a few blues but would really like to find some nice green runs where we do not have to board the lift every 3 minutes. My wife does not ski but will bring a stack of books and expect us to spend evenings eating and etc. with her. We really do not care whether the resort is "family friendly" as long as it suits our abilities and there is some decent food and a few shops for my wife.

I am worried that this is too late in the season, will be too crowded because of spring break etc. Any opinions would be appreciated including suggestions for alternatives.

Thank you. \:\)
scootertig
January 9, 2008
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
I can't speak to the timing/crowd factor, but I'll say that I was at Stowe 2 weeks ago, and I'm not sure it's a good green/blue mountain.

For one thing, the greens are all either far right, or far left, and the middle's pretty much all difficult blues and blacks. This means that if you want to ski blues and greens simultaneously, you've got to ride different lifts up, and meet again somewhere centrally (as opposed to riding up together and then running different trails to the bottom). Our group was mostly green + some blues, and spent most of the day skiing greens.

Stowe is absolutely gorgeous, but a lot of the best views are from the top of Mansfield, which leaves you only one green to get down (Toll Road). That drops you to the Toll House "beginners area" which is nice, but again, far removed from the rest of the mountain.

Stowe is also expensive, relative to some of the other options.

Personally, I've decided I won't go to ski Stowe again until I'm good enough to ski the main part of it, but I could be convinced to ski there on a powder day, since that makes everything a little friendlier.

I hear great things about Smuggler's Notch, which is actually the other side of the mountain from Stowe. I didn't ski it, but it's supposed to be a good time.

Personally, I had one of my most enjoyable skiing days ever at Bolton Valley, which is 20 minutes or so from Stowe. There are good chances to ride 1 lift, and take a few different ways down (although that may not be as important if you're planning to ski with your daughter the whole time), and the blues are very friendly. I've seen people complain that it's a "boring" mountain, but that's probably relative to places like Stowe, which I would classify as some place that I'm not good enough to ski the "exciting" stuff. I'd definitely give them a look...

Obviously, YMMV, but if you're going to ski a few days, maybe try Smugg's one day, Stowe another, or something like that...

I actually started a thread on EpicSki about that weekend. Some of the comments from other people might be helpful in your situation: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=64341



aaron
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
January 9, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
How about Quebec City, Canada? She could stay in the city while you all hit Stoneham (spelling) or Mount St. Anne. Fascinating city, great for kids and adults!
The Colonel \:\)
GRK
January 10, 2008
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
Scootertig

Thanks for the insights...I read your epicski post as well and all the replies. I did not want to ask too many questions in my post because I did not want to make it too long but I am a little worried that the Toll Road area has too much terrain served by only one double as well. I can see that backing up.

Based on your post I will look at Bolton, Okemo and MRG as well.

Glenn
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GRK
January 10, 2008
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
Hmmm...Canada is not that much further away is it? And you have a great idea about the wife having a nice city to explore. Thanks for the tip I will check out those areas.

\:\)
Ullr
January 10, 2008
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
531 posts
Hey GRK,

We have been to most ski areas in VT, and don't let them scare you. If can ski some of the more difficult blue's at Wintergreen, you can ski Stowe. Toll Road is extreamly flat and most all of their blues are groomed. Stowe is a wonderful place. I have not been since they started the construction, but the town of Stowe is down the road from the ski area, so it is not like places like Snowshoe (it is a real ski town). Sugarbush and Killington are nice too, and definately have enough terrain to suit anyone's needs. My wife personally loves Okemo and it too is groomed to pefection. Smuggs is supposed to be a family mountain, but the terrain is surprisingly tough. I don't know if you have been to Snowshoe, but if you have and you like that sort of thing, you may want to look at Stratton, or even Tremblant. For a non-skier without the use of transportation these may be your best bets.

This forum is really for the mid-atlantic.

This one is specific to New England:

http://forums.alpinezone.com/

And this one is more gerneral US and Canada, but their are tons of New Englnaders their too (as well as some of us).

http://www.epicski.com/
JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 10, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,726 posts
Good comments from Ullr.

I'm thinking about a similar trip at same time in same direction.
A couple of thoughts:
Even though it's Eastertime crowds should be no issue. Americans ramp way back on skiing in US East not long after President's Weekend. Not sure about that in Canada/Quebec though. This means you can wait last minute on reservations depending on conditions/weather. With all due respect to Scootertig's comments on Stowe, I still think it might be nice for your group if weather cooperates. Smuggs doesn't offer anything terrain-wise that is exceptionally different. It has a condo-centric family-friendly base area, but doesn't have the charm of town of Stowe for entertaining nonskiers. (However, Smuggs can be more affordable for slopeside lodging.)
Besides Stowe, Okemo, Killington, Smuggs, Sugarbush, Statton, etc. and maybe Bolton (not MRG for your group), you might also look into Bretton Woods, NH. It's renowned for mellow runs, good spring skiing, and features one of the all time great hotels for relaxing and book reading. Check this old report from Connie Lawn, note conditions are somewhat risky at that time of year anywhere in the East: http://66.117.34.52/articles/view_article.php?article_id=905&mode=headlines
bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter
January 10, 2008
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
701 posts
GRK,

I agree that midweek ski crowds in March in VT should be OK. If your 11-year-old has her heart set on Stowe, so be it, although I think other areas might suit most mid-Atlantic blue-green skiers better. I'd agree that if your family is OK on Wintergreen's blues like Eagles Swoop and Tyro they should be able to handle Stowe's greens and some blues OK. Toll Road from the top is a great novice cruiser, and you can cut back to the main ski area near the bottom. Among my favorite Stowe blues are Perry Merrill and Gondolier (off the gondola) and Lord (off the Forerunner Quad, esp. in the early morning).

The town of Stowe, about 8 miles from the skiing, is a great place for nonskiers. Don't miss the Vermont Ski Museum there! In general, ski conditions in VT in March should be fine...and the days are longer.

You might want to consider staying in a centrally located town such as Waterbury VT and take your choice of several nearby areas. Stowe, Sugarbush and Bolton are within a half hour, and Smuggs and Middlebury should be within an hour's drive. That way, you can adapt to changing conditions, weather, fatigue and so forth by picking different areas on different days.

Magog, Quebec, not too far north of the VT-QC border, offers another good base of operations for family skiing. We stayed in a condo in town. My non-skiing wife and her non-skiing sister enjoyed the town, walked a nice marsh/woodland path and -- best of all for them -- ice-skated on the 1.5-mile frozen pathway (maintained faithfully) along Lake Memphremagog. Beautiful area! Mt. Orford is just out of town, and a shuttle bus can take you there from town condos. Best of all, you have several ski areas within an hour's drive including Mont Sutton and Bromont, both of which I think green-blue skiers will enjoy immensely, along with Orford. Jay Peak in VT is about 90 minutes away. PM me if you need more details.

I'd also agree that checking out other VT areas would be a good idea. Okemo, Bromley and Mt. Snow would top my list of suggestions.

Have fun, and be sure to tell us all how it turned out when you return.

Woody
Ullr
January 10, 2008
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
531 posts
 Originally Posted By: bousquet19
GRK,You might want to consider staying in a centrally located town such as Waterbury VT and take your choice of several nearby areas. Stowe, Sugarbush and Bolton are within a half hour, and Smuggs and Middlebury should be within an hour's drive.


I'll second that! There is a Best Western in Waterbury right off of I89. Super clean, indoor pool & hot tub, Game room, free cont. breakfast. Ben & Jerrys factory right next store along with the VT Teddy Bear Factory.

Remember, the week after Easter is spring break for most schools, and since it is early this year, many families are going to take advantage of that. I cannot tell you how many people I work with have plans to either go out west, or risk NE. Not sure when Canada's spring break is, but if it is the same time, avoid Tremblant like the plague!! I have heard nothing but horror stories about crowds. For more info you can check out http://www.tremblant-insider.com/

This is site is run by a pretty good Bear/Maggot, who goes by TJ Burke.
Reisen
January 11, 2008
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
364 posts
I spent four days at Stowe over New Year's, and absolutely loved it. I will caveat that our group of four included two former collegiate racers, and I ski mostly blacks, but we hit up most of the blues and a few of the greens, including toll road multiple times. My thoughts:

The town of Stowe would probably be perfect. If your wife is anything like my wife, she'll love it and the cutesy shopping and coffee shops/bakeries, etc. We were pleased that food, both on the mountain and off, seemed reasonably priced. That's as opposed to Stratton, where you'll pay $8.50 for a hot dog.

Because it is so close to the interstate, you have lots of lodging options, but probably none ski-in/ski-out.

As for the mountain itself, one of the cooler parts it the gondola, but it sounds like that won't be an option given your group's skill level. The easiest way down from the top of the gondola is a blue with one pretty tough section.

Your group would probably find some stuff to ski at Spruce Peak, as they have some pretty easy blues over there, and I think a few greens. This is a nice area with it's own infrastructure.

There's obviously an entire beginner's area at one far side of the mountain. We didn't ski over there, but you could view this as a good thing, because due to the isolation, you're less likely to get expert skiers zooming down the slopes.

The high speed quad leading to the front four soaks up all the liftlines, so on the holiday weekend before New Year's, you could always pretty much ski right on the other lifts. I view this as a big plus.

Toll Road might be my favorite green in the US, and unlike what some others said above, I think at least 2 or three different lifts access it, or at least part of it. Check the trail map, but I felt like it was an option from the top of like 3 or 4 lifts.

You might rub elbows with celebrities at Stowe. I rode the chair lift up with Ted Kennedy Jr. and his wife Kiki...

I could be wrong, but I bet your group would love Stowe. Plus, due to the Northern location and high elevation, the snow is often better/drier there versus other Vermont ski areas.
GRK
January 11, 2008
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
Ullr

Thanks for the advice and forum links...will definitely make use of them.
GRK
January 11, 2008
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
Thanks...Bretton Woods sounds sweet. Checked out Connie's article...shes a good writer.

A plan is coming together (in my mind anyway) to plan on heading north, stay flexible and chase the snow when the time comes. Good resort recommendations, I will be busy checking them out. Very much appreciated.
GRK
January 11, 2008
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
Thanks bousquet19...I appreciate the offer of further advice. May be taking you up on that.

I will render a full report when we return...warts and all.

GRK
GRK
January 11, 2008
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
Thanks Reisen

Nice perspective from someone who has recently visited...on a holiday weekend no less. Our wives sound alike, mine will be happy as a clam in a village like that.

I appreciate your help.

GRK
songfta
January 14, 2008
Member since 05/10/2004 🔗
44 posts
I was at Stowe the week after Christmas, and decided to take in the entire mountain. Even though I'm an expert skier, I find it fun to really see what a mountain is made of while I'm there.

Stowe can really be divided into four different areas:

1. The learning area, which is down the road a stretch from the main part of Mt. Mansfield and has only greens. It's a great place to learn in peace.

2. Mt. Mansfield, which is blues on the southern end (closer to the learning area, off the Mountain triple), and blacks served by the Lookout and FourRunner chairs. Mansfield has the fabled "front four" expert trails (Goat, National, Starr and Liftline) which are some of the most challenging skiing in the east. But there's also the Toll Road that runs off of any of the Mansfield lifts, and is very scenic on a clear day.

3. The gondola area, which is some of the best cruising terrain in the country. Perry Merrill and Gondolier are classic, rolling cruising runs that invite the skier to let it all hang out. There's also the Waterfall run under the top stretch of the gondola, and when it's open, it's quite the sight to see the experts challenge a vertical ice formation.

4. Spruce Mountain, which is the main ski school base, as well as the HQ for the various race teams that call Stowe home. However, it's also home to many of the easier blues and greens at the resort. There are two long quad lifts here (Sunny Spruce and Sensation) that service some fun blues. Sensation is home to the resort's big halfpipe, and is also the place where it's possible to hike over the top to the Smuggler's Notch Ski Area (you'll need a separate pass for this to work). Spruce is now connected to Mansfield via a short gondola.

Additionally, Spruce has tons of construction going on right now. A new base lodge, a hotel, condos and a gold course are all being built right now. The base lodge caf at Spruce is currently a big tent.

Stowe is expensive, it's true, but you can save by purchasing multi-day tickets ahead of time. Crowds on the holiday periods can be a bit much, but there's a strategy to that: start at Mansfield (where the FourRunner opens at 7:30 am), then move to the gondola around 10:00, then to Spruce after lunch. You'll miss most of the heavy lines this way. When I was there, being at the first chair at 7:30 allowed for some lovely powder skiing on Mansfield with only 80-or-so other skiers for the first 90 minutes - totally worth it.

The town of Stowe is a lovely place, as is Waterbury, which is down closer to I-89. The Vermont Ski Museum is a must-see for any fan of ski history. The nightlife in Stowe is also quite good, as are the dining options. Waterbury has Alchemy, which is one of the best brewpubs in the northeast. And Burlington is close, too.
GRK
January 14, 2008
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
Songfta

Thanks for your reply. Lots of good information there! I checked out your randomness. (I liked it). I commented on one of your Stowe entries.

GRK
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