Nov 06, 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.
With an average pitch of 36 degrees, 3,241-foot-long Goat is arguably the most challenging trail at Stowe, if not in all of New England.
Relax, they can’t ruin Jay. They can build a spa, two hotels, a water park, a golf course, a clubhouse, a parking garage, and even a hockey rink, and it will definitely piss off the old guard, who liked it when they could park 50 feet from the tram and have the place to themselves. But the terrain and the tree skiing remain as kickass as ever. Jay will always get a little more powder than the rest of Vermont. And the first new hotel—the Tram Haus, with its new bar and restaurant—is pretty nice. So, yeah, Jay’s a little softer around the edges these days. But its core remains hard.
Powder Day: Be first in line for the tram, then make a beeline for André’s Paradise (known by locals as Helium) and Beaver Pond Glade for snow so light you’ll think you’re in Utah.
Three Days Later: Head to the other side of the mountain and ride the Jet triple to Timbuktu, a maple-studded run that connects to unmarked glades. On the next lap, hit Kitz Woods and Hell’s Woods.
Park and Pipe: Of Jay’s four terrain parks, go for the Park, a grab bag of tables, roller-coaster and rainbow rails, C-boxes, and step-ups on Lower Can Am.
Backcountry Access: The Northway gate gives way to Big Jay, where you’ll ski 3.5 miles and more than 2,000 vertical feet. Park a rig on Route 242 to shuttle you back to the resort. Or hire one of Jay’s backcountry guides for $39 for two hours.
Weather: The Jay Cloud swirling around the summit means more snow than Aspen and reliable face shots from Thanksgiving to Easter.
Après: At the base area, the Golden Eagle Lounge unwinds with classic rock on the radio, wagon wheels on the walls, and $3.75 Labatt pints. A few miles down Route 242, skiers squeeze into wooden booths for Long Trails and Buffalo wings at the Belfry.
Fuel: Go for the $5 egg platter with bacon, home fries, toast, and coffee at the Tram Haus. For lunch, poutine costs $4.50. Or splurge on the International Room’s $10 smorgasbord of barbecue wings, chicken cordon bleu, salad, and cannoli.
Up All Night: Sleepy Jay (population 430) doesn’t offer much nightlife. But at Dirty Sally’s nightclub, three miles from the ski area in the Lodge at Jay, local musicians play until 1 a.m. on Saturdays.
Digs: The 48-room Hotel Jay is just 90 feet from the tram. Ski-and-stay packages, including a basic room, a lift ticket, breakfast, and dinner, start at $99 a night.