Bolton Valley 1/29/2017

in Trip Reports Posts: 1,752
Yesterday I skied at Bolton Valley for the first time and used my $29 tickets I bought in October. I wasn't quite sure what to expect because of previous comments about Bolton being flat and not having good expert terrain. After skiing there yesterday I'm wondering if anyone who's made those comments has actually skied there! I found that Bolton is perfect for intermediate and expert skiers while also offering good novice terrain off the lower mountain lifts. Temperatures ranged thoughout the twenties during the day and it was cold enough that they were blowing snow nonstop all day. The morning started partly sunny, but later in the day snow moved in and dropped about an inch across the mountain. The upper parts of Wilderness and Vista peaks were covered in a thick layer of rime ice which made for some amazing scenery. Recent snowfall had opened almost every trail and glade on the mountain; I believe only 4 or 5 were closed and every lift was open. Electrical issues closed the Vista and Timberline Quads for about 45 minutes which made for 4-5 minute lines on the Wilderness and Mid-Mountain Doubles, but other than that lines never got longer than a minute or so. The skiing was terrific on most trails and glades and only a couple were icy. Untouched powder could still be found on the edges of some trails and in glades such as Doug's Woods.

I'll give a summary of what I think of Bolton's terrain over the three peaks, all of which have a very similar vertical drop. Timberline is the lowest in elevation and has its own base area. It's less crowded than Vista and you have an option to get off the quad at a mid-station. There are a couple nice intermediate runs and one long novice trail. The northern face has some steep expert terrain and a challenging glade called Lost Boyz. The southern part of Timberline is mostly taken up by a huge gladed area called Doug's Woods and Adam's Solitude. This glade starts off steep, then mellows out some as it descends. It's a huge area and I could spend half the day in there and never get tired of it. Wilderness Peak is served by a double which also has a mid-station. This peak has nice intermediate cruisers and well-spaced lower angle glades. There is some very steep terrain near the summit including Bolton Outlaw and Outlaw Woods. Wilderness also has a few novice runs from the mid-station. Vista is the busiest peak and it is served by a quad to the summit and two doubles on the lower mountain. The lower mountain has wide novice and low intermediate terrain as well as a few introductory glades. From the summit there are some long blue cruisers with outstanding views. There are a number of very steep trails dropping off from the summit, some groomed, some not. Preacher is a very narrow double black which snakes its way down the upper half of the mountain to the south. There are glades of various difficulty scattered around the mountain. Vista Glade stands out as one of my favorites with its perfect spacing, great views, and constant pitch. On either side of Preacher there are two large glades called Cobrass Woods and Devil's Playground. Cobrass Woods is a large challenging glade which has very remote feeling as you ski through the evergreens on its upper sections, then feels more friendly as it transitions to hardwoods. Devil's Playground include some of the mountain's steepest terrain and the section alongside the Spillway trail will give pause to almost any skier; plus it's in full view of the lift. I found Bolton to be a great large area which has plenty of offerings for the expert skier.

Mid-Mountain DoubleimageVista QuadimageBase Lodge & HotelimageVista QuadimageTop of the Vista QuadimageVista GladeimageMid-Mountain DoubleimageTop of the Snowflake DoubleimageTimberline QuadimageSpellbinderimageSpellbinderimageTimberline QuadimageLost BoyzimagePowder in Doug's WoodsimageBase VillageimageWilderness DoubleimageWilderness DoubleimageLooking Down the Wilderness DoubleimageWilderness Double from Bolton OutlawimageRime Ice at the SummitimageLooking Up the Vista Quad, Upper Showoff, & SpillwayimageVista Quadimage
- Sam
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Comments

  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 1,186
    Great stuff
  • mtsnow123mtsnow123 advanced
    Posts: 261
    Great report, thanks for sharing. I love Bolton, close to Burlington, never long lines, affordable lift ticket prices, and phenomenal backcountry.
  • JonniJonni intermediate
    Posts: 24
    I love Bolton and try to get there as much as I can while time and money can permit. I think the only reason why you may see negative reports about it is that their snowmaking capacity is not that great. Without a good long period of snowmaking with good temps and/or a bunch of nice dumps of snow the terrain can be limited. I know Wilderness never opened last year and I think Timberline was only open for a week or two.

    When they have the snow however, it's a VERY fun place! :)
  • TdizzTdizz novice
    Posts: 8
    YES! Bolton is a great mountain. I worked there 1999-2001. People give it bad reviews because they just stick to the trail map and are used to having everything presented to them in a Disney World kind of way. Bolton has an unbelievable amount of back country trails/old logging roads that you can ride and end up back at the Timberline lift. Even if you drop out along the access road, you'll get a lift from someone back up to the lifts. We used to have a hand drawn map of the logging roads in the Guest Services area. I'm sure there are some floating around. You just have to be down with locals. After living in Burlington and Stowe, Bolton and Smuggs were our favorite places to ride. Granted, natural snow is a major factor. 
    I would love to ride there again.
  • ski_itski_it expert
    edited January 30 Posts: 1,504

    .... I wasn't quite sure what to expect because of previous comments about Bolton being flat and not having good expert terrain. After skiing there yesterday I'm wondering if anyone who's made those comments has actually skied there! I found that Bolton is perfect for intermediate and expert skiers while also offering good novice terrain off the lower mountain lifts. ....


    That's not quite what we said. I for one have been there 4-5 times, but not in a few years.

    http://snowjournal.nplas.com/discussion/comment/11927/#Comment_11927

    I do not think we dissed the place, but you can't tell me their expert terrain ranks with Sugarbush, Kpeak, Smuggs, Stowe, Mad River or Jay.  For example, the True-Up Vertical is only 960. Ragged's is rated slightly higher, while Shawnee Peak, Tenney & Cranmore all rate higher.

    Anyway, great report, pics & I'm glad you had fun.

    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • marcskimarcski advanced
    edited January 31 Posts: 198
    Nice report. I've only been once but I really liked it. I would love to go after a good dump to get at the woods. It's supposed to be all about the woods skiing for experts at Bolton; the trails aren't so steep. Great little place. Burlington HS used to ski there at least when my neices were in HS.
  • riverc0ilriverc0il advanced
    Posts: 225
    I will echo ski_it's comments. Bolton has some incredibly good terrain. Its problem is that the great terrain is limited in vertical and dumps out onto some of Vermont's longest run outs (and that is saying something!). Bolton has some incredible steeps and drops but they are all short lived. I like the place but I hit Bolton once per year after a good dump and I am satisfied for the year. The woods off and around Preacher are some of the best on map tree skiing in the region... just not sustained. Really great mountain for natural snow, they leave a lot ungroomed.
  • mtsnow123mtsnow123 advanced
    Posts: 261
    My two cents is that if you pay less than half the price of an area lift ticket and half much less of a crowd, it's the best bang for your buck in the area. I have found untouched powder upwards of four days after a storm. The lifts are slow, but the employees are great. I have nothing to say bad about this place.

    I have been volunteering with Burton's CHILL program here for two years and is probably one of the better places to teach people to ride. Ski patrol does have there hands full. We had 5 kids get put in the sled last night alone.
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