Vermont's Hidden Gems

by Wagner Skis / Mar 23, 2023

Welcome to Vermont, where the maple syrup, best-paired with some sharp Vermont cheddar, flows like wine.

This lush, green state is also home to some of the best skiing on the East—Killington, Stowe, Stratton, Jay Peak, Burke Mountain, and, of course, Mad River Glen.

Mad River Glen, Ski it if You Can
Everyone in the East has heard of Mad River Glen, even if they can't ski it. 

While these places are surely on the must-visit list, hidden among them in the little valleys of the Green Mountains are some gems that also deserve a spot on your itinerary. At these places, you won’t find huge vert or high-speed six-packs, but you will find that the soul of skiing is alive and well. Book yourself a nice bed and breakfast and take a leisurely drive to a new neck of the woods. Here are our picks.

Northeast Slopes
“Keeping skiing real since 1936” is the tagline at this little hardscrabble hill in East Corinth. Indeed, Northeast Slopes is home to the oldest continuously operating rope tow in the U.S., though the power source has been upgraded to the engine of a 1973 Dodge Dart, housed in a red barn that was from the set of the 1980s film “Beetlejuice.” It’s places like these, as Glen Plake famously said about Northeast Slopes, “that still have the heart of skiing in them.”

Northeast Slopes, Vermont
The base of Northeast Slopes t-bar in East Cornith, Vermont

The “trail map” is pretty much just a clearing in the woods, but Northeast carves its 35 acres into 12 trails with 360 feet of vertical. A T-bar takes you to the very top, and it runs parallel to the rope tow which takes you, well, most of the way up. The magic of this place (clearly) isn’t about statistics or snowfall. Some might argue it’s about the Nor’easter Burger, made with grass-fed beef from the Waits River Valley and melted Cabot cheddar, but it’s really about the vibe. It's real. Tickets cost $10-$15.

Cochran’s Ski Area
Mickey and Ginny Cochran started running their Richmond backyard rope tow in 1961, working tirelessly to find enough people, machinery, and (never enough) snow to introduce the sport to local kids. Now, Cochran’s Ski Area hosts weekly races and training for eight local high schools; trains Olympic hopefuls (there have been 11 who came from here); and, as the first nonprofit ski area in the U.S., ensures “No child will be denied the opportunity to ski or ride.” Lift tickets cost $5-$19, but on their website, Cochran’s implore those who need a free or reduced pass to “please” let them know by emailing Ain’t nothing more soulful than that. 

Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain, Vermont
Don't tell anyone, but Vermont does get powder! A skier enjoys some deep snow at Magic Mountain.

The ridgelines and narrow, twisting 1,500-foot vertical chutes of Londonderry’s Glebe Mountain reminded Magic’s founder, Hans Thorner, of his roots in the Swiss Alps. Thus, in 1960, Magic Mountain was born. With 50 trails, five lifts, 120 skiable acres, and snowmaking on 50 percent of its terrain, Magic is best described by the website’s pop-up ad for ticket sales: “Join our community here,” it says. This place boasts special openings for mid-week storms, a supportive uphill policy, and an independent vibe you can feel from the minute you arrive. It’s southern Vermont’s most challenging mountain and a throwback, to be sure, but one that will remind you why you started skiing way back when.

Pico Mountain
Don’t be fooled by the fact that Pico Mountain is owned by Killington, or that the Beast is right down the road. Pico is the real deal that gets passed over by the masses en route to stand in line with the other masses. With nearly a 1,967-foot vertical drop, 468 skiable acres, and an impressive 250 inches of annual snowfall, it’s obviously a favorite with the locals. Awesome terrain. Cozy wood-burning fireplace. A beer you don’t have to wait 30 minutes to order. These things matter—as does the history of this place, too. This hill was founded by the parents of Andrea Meade Lawrence, winner of two gold medals at the 1952 Olympic Games in Oslo. They’re buried up on the hill, but their legacy is alive and well.

Middlebury Snow Bowl

Middlebury Snow Bowl
What is the secret to Middlebury College's astounding record of ski-racers? It's own ski resort, of course.

The first trails for Middlebury Snow Bowl were cut in the 1930s in preparation for the Middlebury College Carnival. The rest, including Middlebury’s incredible ski-racing success, is history. With 700 skiable acres, 200 inches of annual snow, three chairlifts, and one small (and, to this Westerner, very curious) lake smack in the center, the Snow Bowl is owned by the college but open to all. If you go, make sure to check out the original fieldstone fireplace in the historic lodge, where skiers warmed themselves long before the structure that now houses it was built. Hit steeps like Allen or the glades in between Ross and Proctor. Tickets cost $40-$50.

**NOTE: Wagner's Graphics Guru would like to put a plug in for Bolton Valley – her "home" ski resort. 


Article by Kimberly Beekman

Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late, great Skiing Magazine (RIP), and a longtime editor of SKI Magazine before that. She currently uses the title of “freelancer” as a beard to ski powder all over the world. She lives in Steamboat, Colorado, with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.

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