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 ski area offers 111 trails, served by 16 lifts, spread across three peaks, each with its own distinct flavor.
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.
"Ski It If You Can" is the challenge on Mad River Glen's ubiquitous bumper stickers. The truth is you can ski it no matter what your ability level.
Like your cantankerous grandfather who refuses to change his whiskey-drinking, Pall Mall-smoking ways, Mad River steadfastly clings to its anti-snowboard stance and the slow, creaky Single Chair that accesses the mountain's choice terrain. "Love me or leave me" seems to be the prevailing attitude. On bountiful winters, when snow piles high on the twisting weirdness of Paradise, softens the Hummer-sized bumps of Chute, and deposits face shots between the closely spaced trees of Twentieth Hole, hard- charging skiers are most definitely feeling the former. It's not a large mountain, but with the majority of prime lines marked by neither map nor sign, Mad River rewards adventurous skiers long after storms have passed.
Though runs like Paradise and Chute hold the spotlight, savvy locals seek out the thinly gladed, steeply hummocked twists of Lynx for fresh tracks.
With only 15 percent snowmaking coverage, Mad River doesn't sugarcoat the region's finicky conditions. Ice, moss, rocks, and waist-deep snow are the four major food groups.
General Stark's Pub, in the Mad River Basebox, is the perfect warm-up to a rowdy evening under the moose's head at the Mad Mountain Tavern.
"When most resorts announce 'major improvements,' it means a hotel or detachable quad. At Mad River, it means they fixed that leaky toilet. Besides, where else can you get your ass kicked by a trail named Quacky?"
Vertical Drop 2,037 feet
Snowfall 250 inches