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Guidebook author's advice for Vermont ski vacations: Branch out away from mega resorts

Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008
— Alpine / downhill skiing, Burke, Smugglers' Notch, Mount Snow, Killington, Sugarbush, Jay Peak, Ascutney

What's the most common mistake out-of-state visitors make when planning ski trips to Vermont?

This is the question that <link http: budgettravel an_experts_guide_to_leafpeepin.html external-link-new-window>Budget Travel magazine put to a Vermont guidebook author this month, and I have to say he had a decent answer.

"The biggest mistake people make is the head right to the 'biggest' mountains with the biggest names—especially Killington, Sugarbush, and Mount Snow. While those mountains have earned their reputation for some of the most exciting and difficult terrain in the northeast, and its understandably tempting to want to test yourself against them, they can also be a frustrating exercise in standing around in lift lines or spending half the day trying to make it across a bewildering trail map for those one or two perfect runs.

Meanwhile, there are many mountains in Vermont that will more than test your skiing ability and offer a much more satisfying overall skiing experience—especially if you are not all about the double-diamonds. Mountains like Burke Mountain and Jay Peak, both in the Northeast Kingdom, are virtually deserted in winter, and both boast lots of natural powder.

Mad River Glen, just up the valley from Sugarbush, has a cult following among skiers for its uncompromising terrain full of rocks, moguls, and glades, with a full half of its trails for experts. On the other side of the spectrum, families would do better to leave the big mountains behind and head to Smugglers Notch or Ascutney, which offer a range of terrain for all abilities as well as excellent kids programs..."

As a skier who has been making a point of skiing around the great ski resorts of Vermont, I must agree with this writer. You can really tear it up at the smaller or less posh resorts.

With small or non-existant lift lines, you get your money's worth of skiing in time for an early aprés ski beverage—and you may still have the dough for an appetizer!

Something to think about as you plan your ski days in Vermont for the coming winter. They're coming, you know!

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