Reviewed by Greg Duggan
Dec 04, 2008
Stratton is known for its polish and shine, its upscale lodging and village, and its high levels of service. Yet it arguably did more to nurture snowboarding back in the sport's wild child days than any other resort in the country.
The terrain at Smuggs rivals any other resort in the East, and many of the locals who make Smugglers Notch their primary mountain do so because of the mountain’s low-key vibe.
The ski area offers 111 trails, served by 16 lifts, spread across three peaks, each with its own distinct flavor.
Bolton comes across as an affordable family mountain, though it holds enough glades, bumps, and steep pitches—plus top-notch backcountry access—to hold anyone’s attention. And for those seeking a day away from the lifts, 100 kilometers of Nordic trails run throughout the area. Bolton is also taking steps to become an environmental leader; the mountain’s owners recently installed a wind turbine on Vista Peak. The turbine is expected to generate about 300,000 kilowatts each year—an eighth of the resort’s power. It’s the first step in a long-term plan of environmentally-friendly development.
Start Here: Warm up your legs on Cobrass, Bolton’s longest run. It provides views of Camel’s Hump to the south and Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks to the west.
Quick Tip: The less crowded Timberline Quad will run every day this season, instead of just on weekends and holidays.
Must Hit: Head to Timberline for a run down Spellbinder. As your momentum picks up, hold on—it’s a high speed, fall line roller coaster of a ride.
The Stash: Take a right off the Vista Quad, following Sherman’s Pass toward Cobrass. Then duck into Devil’s Playground for a trip down one of those quintessential Vermont glade runs that has you dodging trees and navigating bumps down steep pitches.
Powder Day: Go right off the Vista Quad and point your skis down the steeps of S.O. Chute and Show Off. If you want to send it, keep an eye out for the aptly named Big Rock on skier’s right toward the bottom of the trail.
Three Days Later: Slip out of bounds and poke around the glades to skier’s left of Twice as Nice on Timberline. You won’t find anything particularly steep, but the trees are spaced widely enough to allow for some sweet turns.
Park and Pipe: Jibbers can make laps on the Mid-Mountain Lift and entertain themselves in three different parks—a rail yard, a Burton Progression park for beginners, and a larger park.
Backcountry Access: Spend $15 for a single ride lift ticket up the Vista Quad and head straight into the woods to access the Woodward Mountain Trail. Watch for short tree shots as the trail descends to Little River State Park in Waterbury. Just make sure to leave a car beforehand—otherwise you’re thumbing it back to Bolton.
Weather: Vermont has earned its reputation for cold winters. But March often brings the most snow, and in the spring, the sun turns west-facing Bolton into a heap of delicious corn.
Après: Wander into James Moore Tavern on the top floor of the base lodge, order one of the 18 draught beers, and cozy up to the fire, which feels particularly welcoming after a chilly Vermont day.
Fuel: A 15-minute morning drive to On the Rise Bakery in the neighboring town of Richmond is well worth it for muffins, coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries.
Up All Night: Up all night? Not likely in Vermont, and especially not in sleepy Bolton. But if you’re craving the bars, head east on Route 2 to Waterbury, and taste some of the fine brews concocted at The Alchemist.
Digs: You won’t necessarily be sleeping in luxury with a hotel room at the Bolton Valley Inn, but you will wake up slopeside
Elevation: 3,150 feet (summit) Vertical Drop: 1,704 feet Snowfall: 312 inches Acres: 165 Info: www.boltonvalley.com