Tiny Stowe is one of America’s classic historic resorts, with the skiing a 15-minute drive away. Skiing is on two linked mountains, Mt Mans field and Spruce Peak (one of the country’s best beginner areas). Good skiers head for the legendary Front Four double blacks (National, Goat, Starr, Liftline), which plunge down, all narrow, gnarly and mogulled, under the main chairs. It’s not all like that though, with blue routes down too. Intermediate skiing is pretty, on the tree-lined slopes and snake around the mountain. To one side, a gondola serves half a dozen ways straight down, but does offer a swift way to the summit and an easy swish over to the main area. Spruce is a whole mini-mountain of rolling blue and green runs, culminating in a large open area at the bottom. For boarders, there’s no better place to learn, either mentally or physically, as this is the home of snowboarding, where Burton founder Jake Burton perfected the sport. The elegant millionaire ex-hippy lives here and is a pillar of the community, funding the town’s indoor pool, while his boards are made down the road in Burlington.
There are some luxurious places to stay at the base area with lots of other lovely options. In town the Green Mountain Inn is stylishly cosy and a favourite of Brits. Smugglers’ Notch, over the pass from Stowe, is America’s most family orientated resort, winning a raft of awards for family-friendly innovations. Killington, a three-hour drive from Boston, is the eastern USA’s biggest ski area, albeit nowhere near as impressive as Stowe. There are unintimidating beginner slopes, some of the gentlest and widest we’ve ever seen.
Intermediates get plenty of wide cruisers that fan out like a spider’s web over the six pineclad hillsides. There is also some serious double black diamond skiing here and mogul fields. Whilst the skiing is fun, the resort is thoroughly dispiriting. The closest there is to a centre is on the hill – at the Snowshed base with its Grand Resort; the rest of the hotels, condos, bars and restaurants sprawl down 8km Killington Road, a US mess of major proportions.
Après-ski, however, is pretty lively – although there’s no strolling from bar to bar; if you don’t want to drive it’s bus or taxi. Lots of places to eat, too – just no atmosphere. You can also have a day out at Pico, a small resort, on the same lift pass.