It says a lot that you can be the No. 3 resort in the East and not have a single high-speed lift. But surging Smuggs, with a deft combo of peerless family-friendliness and legit expert terrain, proves there’s more to life than fancy infrastructure. Again it’s No. 1 with families, who love its good programs, cozy slopeside lodging, gentle terrain, and No. 5–ranked Value. But as anyone who has ridden the Madonna chair can attest, Smuggs has teeth too (No. 4 in Terrain Variety, No. 6 in Challenge). No. 2 for Weather? Think stealth powder squalls, not bluebird skies. Throw in the wintry back-side-of- Mansfield scenery (No. 4), and it’s irresistible for nostalgic, soulful skiers who know slow lifts mean uncrowded trails. “No glitz, just skiing!” —J.C.
WHAT’S NEW >> A million bucks’ worth of snowmaking improvements on Log Jam, Upper Rumrunner, and lower Madonna Liftline. And 35 new sun-tracking solar panels will be enough to power the Village Lodge.
BRAGGING RIGHTS >> Doc Dempsey’s or Madonna Liftline: as steep and tough as anything in the east. And check out the natural terrain park off lower Madonna Liftline: log slides, rock jumps, and such.
FAMILY EXPERIENCE >> The Winter adventure program caters to teens without condescending. Loosely structured skiing in the morning, then outdoorsy adventure—like canyoneering, survival training, and ice climbing—in the afternoon.