The worst of the largest Northeast areas

Awe, we need summer threads! Let's try this one.

There are 22 lift serviced ski areas (including one NELSAP) in the northeast that are close to or greater than 2K of vertical: They are as follows:
ME
Saddleback
Sugarloaf
Sunday River
NH
Cannon
Loon
Waterville
Wildcat
NY
Gore
Whiteface
VT
Burke
Jay
Killington
Mad River Glen
Okemo
Pico
Smugglers' Notch
Stowe
Stratton
Sugarbush

Which one(s) do you think is(are) the worst and why?

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Comments

  • Hmm. For me I size up a resort based more on its “soul”, personality, and character. Hard to say which is “worst.” For example, I’ve skied both Whiteface and Killington and, while both have fantastic skiing, Whiteface and the Lake Placid experience trumped the Killington experience for me.
  • edited August 13
    IMHO Killington is the worst of the areas on the list that I have skied. I have had good days there, and I am not saying it's bad, but I feel like it doesn't live up to the hype it used to get. The big vertical drop is essentially one trail to the bottom of the gondola. Most of the rest of the resort is made up of medium sized ski pods linked together by annoying connecting trails that have no character. They hyped up having the longest trail in the east, which was so bad that they ended up closing it. They hyped Outer Limits as the ultimate expert trail in the east. It is just a steep, straight mogul run with zero personality. They have lifts, trails, and entire sections of the resort disappear from one year to the next. Not impressed other than their return to snowmaking commitment.
    I used to go there all the time in my late teens for the skiing and the party scene. The best thing I ever did was drive 45 minutes further north, and never look back.
  • It's a dismal foggy day with NE wind here on the Massachusetts coast reminiscent of October so I am willing to say negative things.

    Least favorite: Waterville Valley. It only makes 2000 ft due to the High Country pod. If the main chair is on wind hold you are not going to get much skiing in. I find the rest of the area kind of boring with the exception of Sunnyside.

    Next: Loon. Too much congestion on the trails and too many homogenous trails.

    Next: Killington. This choice may make me a bit of a heretic, although they deserve major credit for their long season. My choice may be as much due to my ignorance of the area as the area itself. However, every time I have been there, the numerous intersecting trails had my head on a swivel anticipating collisions. People in my PSIA group were always arguing about how to get from here to there.

    I am not as familiar with the rest of the Vermont and NY areas although I recall someone labeling MRG as the world's largest interactive ski museum. I have been there and I can ski it. I just see no reason to step back a few decades in skiing experience (again heresy). As I recall the bottom part of Jay is very flat and that helps them make their 2000 ft.

    In excellent conditions any one of these places would be great. My favorite would be Wildcat.

    Paul

  • Hmm. For me I size up a resort based more on its “soul”, personality, and character. Hard to say which is “worst.” For example, I’ve skied both Whiteface and Killington and, while both have fantastic skiing, Whiteface and the Lake Placid experience trumped the Killington experience for me.

    In which direction? My guess is you mean you preferred WF to K?
  • Hmm. For me I size up a resort based more on its “soul”, personality, and character. Hard to say which is “worst.” For example, I’ve skied both Whiteface and Killington and, while both have fantastic skiing, Whiteface and the Lake Placid experience trumped the Killington experience for me.

    In which direction? My guess is you mean you preferred WF to K?
    "Trumped"
    ~Rich~
  • > @lotsoskiing said:
    > Hmm. For me I size up a resort based more on its “soul”, personality, and character. Hard to say which is “worst.” For example, I’ve skied both Whiteface and Killington and, while both have fantastic skiing, Whiteface and the Lake Placid experience trumped the Killington experience for me.
    >
    > In which direction? My guess is you mean you preferred WF to K?

    Yes, I definitely prefer Whiteface over Killington.
  • edited August 13
    I have to take a shot at home here, Gore Mountain leaves a lot to be desired. From their inactive staffing on weekdays, and a town that's in bed when the sun goes down. There have been many failed real estate endeavors and talks of hotels that are never built. The North Creek/Gore Mountain region screams bureaucratic America. For having such a mammoth mountain in your backyard, North Creek is a glorified hole in the wall. Even with the connection to the village slopes, it still feels distant from town. The only developments to speak of on the Gore Side of Route 28 is the towns sand pit and a old folks home.

    As for New England, honestly mostly Vermont. Its to go see what resorts look like that are not run by the Government and its a real treat when you don't do it often. So I really have no gripes with areas in New England other than their cost.
    ~Rich~
  • Loon for me. Been there once, have to go back to get the patch and pin for the bag and collection. Too many people, even on a weekday, long lines, indifferent service and I hate to say it, I had to interact with the patrol when one of my students got hurt and while they were professional and competent, they obviously read their own press releases too much and were rather egotistical about their job. Skiing was just OK, nothing to write home about. Honestly, all I can really remember was the long lines and riding the chair with three parents for a while.
    "Making ski films is being irresponsible with other people's money, in a responsible sort of way..." 
    Greg Stump
  • Saddleback kind of stands out on that list since it's not operational. Forgiving that, If I have to pick a worst I'm going with Waterville. It's got limited terrain variety, poor lifts, and so so snow conditions and the parking is among the worst I've seen. Also I've been there enough times that I've seen it all many times over besides Green Peak, but that pod has short runs and a slow lift.
  • I'm trying to figure out how I am going to summarize this thread so I have a few questions:

    For Ibrake: Are you saying Gore, Whiteface and Killington are the three worst or that those are the only ones of the 22 you've skied and Killington is the worst - or something else?

    To NJSki: When saying 45 minutes north of Killington, are referring to MRG, Sugarbush or something else?

    It would seem that both Gore and Saddleback suffer from lack of nearby accommodations.

    I must admit to being an apologist for Killington - primarily because of the length of its season. When I do go there mid-season, the way to ski Killington is not to go from pod-to-pod, but to ski one section of it for a while and then move to another. Then the "annoying little connectors" become a non-factor. And while Killington claims 3000+ vertical, the real skiing is just the top 1800 to 2000'. Before Burke and Saddleback added the relatively flat lower areas they too still ski like 1600 to 1800 vertical rather than the 2K+.

    I tend to agree with kayaker, bmwskier and bobbutts on Waterville and Loon.

    Perhaps it would be best if we divided this into a few sub-categories:
    1. Worst for nearby accommodations
    2. Worst for trail layout
    3. Worst for snow quality/quantity/grooming
    4. Worst to get to
    5. Other?
  • For me I am saying Killington is the worst if only because it lacks, in my opinion, the character, feel, personality, and history of Whiteface and Lake Placid.
  • edited August 13
    I really hate to say any place is "bad" but out of this entire list only WV stands out. Never understood the appeal of the place.
  • edited August 13
    Yes, I find Sugarbush, MRG, as well as Stowe and Smuggs to be more to my taste.
  • edited August 13

    For me I am saying Killington is the worst if only because it lacks, in my opinion, the character, feel, personality, and history of Whiteface and Lake Placid.

    Can't believe it but I'll join joshua in being an apologist for K.

    Lacks character? Lacks personality? I couldn't disagree more.

    It in no way shape or form has character and personality like old school areas such as MRG, Cannon, Wildcat, Whiteface, etc. But it has character and personality in spades. They had a few rough years where they gave up on that character and personality and tried to run the place like any other resort. But they have their attitude again. I don't ski there mid-season but i definitely dig the late season vibe there.

    Waterville stands out as being out classed. The place is really run down and of course it skis way smaller than its vert suggests due to the High Country bloat. Probably has the oldest chairlift collection of any major resort (plus or minus 2k). Haven't been there since the expansion. I've passed on free WV tickets a few times. I might go back if you pay me.

    Loon I will ski mid-week on a free ticket. I'd still like to get back there and check out the expansion. You couldn't pay me to ski there on a weekend, though. Hard pass.

    I don't like Okemo or Stratton but I wouldn't call them the worst. They just aren't for me. I'll defend them both as the right place for many skiers looking for that type of experience.

    I wouldn't call Sugarloaf the worst but I do think it is very overrated unless you hit the place with great snow conditions fully open. Otherwise, you can save yourself two hours of driving and hit Cannon for icy wide open groomers.
  • I'm trying to figure out how I am going to summarize this thread so I have a few questions:


    Perhaps it would be best if we divided this into a few sub-categories:
    1. Worst for nearby accommodations
    2. Worst for trail layout
    3. Worst for snow quality/quantity/grooming
    4. Worst to get to
    5. Other?

    It's your thread but I would stick to overall skiing because 2k vert is a skiing parameter. You might exclude areas where you have to take a second lift up on your descent to make 2k. Would that take Killington out? You could ask people to name their bottom three and the winner (loser?) would be the area with the most mentions. Anyway you cut it I think the least favorite will be WV.
  • edited August 14
    Kayaker said:

    I'm trying to figure out how I am going to summarize this thread so I have a few questions:


    Perhaps it would be best if we divided this into a few sub-categories:
    1. Worst for nearby accommodations
    2. Worst for trail layout
    3. Worst for snow quality/quantity/grooming
    4. Worst to get to
    5. Other?

    It's your thread but I would stick to overall skiing because 2k vert is a skiing parameter. You might exclude areas where you have to take a second lift up on your descent to make 2k. Would that take Killington out? You could ask people to name their bottom three and the winner (loser?) would be the area with the most mentions. Anyway you cut it I think the least favorite will be WV.
    I don’t know why everyone is hating on Waterville. It’s one of my personal favorites on the list and one of the areas which is still independent. It has retained some character and hasn’t been completely homogenized into a mega-resort. It also has an excellent location and a good variety of summer activities.
    - Sam
  • Never been to waterville but I have always been interested in their summit pod, and their wide open bowl skiing, especially after a dump. How is it up there or is it not enough vertical to enjoy?
    ~Rich~
  • Kayaker said:

    I'm trying to figure out how I am going to summarize this thread so I have a few questions:


    Perhaps it would be best if we divided this into a few sub-categories:
    1. Worst for nearby accommodations
    2. Worst for trail layout
    3. Worst for snow quality/quantity/grooming
    4. Worst to get to
    5. Other?

    It's your thread but I would stick to overall skiing because 2k vert is a skiing parameter. You might exclude areas where you have to take a second lift up on your descent to make 2k. Would that take Killington out? You could ask people to name their bottom three and the winner (loser?) would be the area with the most mentions. Anyway you cut it I think the least favorite will be WV.
    What's left if you make it 2K in a single ride?

    And to ADKskier: I empathize with your reaction to WV - not because I love WV, buyt because so many were hating on my favorite!
  • I will chime in with a couple of thoughts:
    -Any place that shuts lifts midweek when there is adequate cover, without making a cut in the price, is a downer. I know, buyer beware, so check the snow report, but IMO it is a bummer when places advertise their great layout and lifts yet do not open them. I also know that they need to cut costs to stay viable, but anyway...

    -I would nominate Magic because every day they have had a dump, I have not been able to get there :'( Really want to get there on a powder day...
  • I've only skied 10 of the places on the list and never at Waterville Valley. Killington is the least favorite of the places on the list that I have skied. It is big but is broken into a lot of smaller pods with a lot of crossovers. I've skied Killington about 6 times and the layout and trails just don't do anything for me. The conditions aren't usually that great either compared to other areas I've the day before or the day after.
  • Without checking elevations I think at least Cannon, Wildcat, Loon, Sugarloaf, Jay, and even WV can get you very close to 2k on one descent. You can take multiple lifts up, I'm just looking for areas that get you close to 2k down without hopscotching over to other lifts. I think this has been discussed before in another thread.
  • edited August 14
    Killington's not my favorite but I agree with joshua_segal about sticking to pods. I've had my most enjoyable days there lapping one or two pods all day, and my least favorite memories are days when we try to ski the whole mountain. It's super helpful to follow someone who knows how the mid-winter crowds tend to shift i.e. get your laps in at Bear before people move over there.

    I follow the CHOPS method...
    C - Charge Bear
    H - Hit Needles Eye
    O - Over to Superstar
    P - Pass on midwinter weekend K1
    S - Send Snowdon

    Really, it's just looker's left to right.
  • I don’t know why everyone is hating on Waterville. It’s one of my personal favorites on the list and one of the areas which is still independent. It has retained some character and hasn’t been completely homogenized into a mega-resort. It also has an excellent location and a good variety of summer activities.

    "Still independent" misses some of its history. Waterville was once an ASC area and then onto Booth Creek, where it was partnered up with Loon and Cranmore. WV was one of the original multi pass areas when people really started to take note of homogenization of the ski experience.

    Most folks in the are are quick to bemoan how the area has really fallen from grace and isn't getting enough reinvestment. WV definitely has more going for it in the "off season" than the ski season. The town of WV is great, but the WV ski area... not so much. That just reinforces how lack luster the ski area is. If I had to sum up the skiing at WV in one word, it would be "bland".

    I think JS once created a thread to compare Ragged and Waterville. I consider Ragged superior despite its lower elevation.
  • Tough to summarize the responses. The two areas most mentioned were Waterville and Killington. I think Killington is the "New York Yankees" of skiing. People love it or hate it. My guess is that of the 22 listed areas, more of the SJ community has been to Killington than any of the others, since it is the nearest to the major population centers of the Northeast. (My guess is that those least visited by SJers are Mt. St. Anne and Le Massif.)
  • edited August 15
    I just can't bad-mouth these places because where I come from (VA) we would kill to have any of them within a three hour drive.
    PS: I've been to every mtn on the list except Burke.
  • edited August 15
    jgreco said:

    Killington's not my favorite but I agree with joshua_segal about sticking to pods. I've had my most enjoyable days there lapping one or two pods all day, and my least favorite memories are days when we try to ski the whole mountain.

    Really, it's just looker's left to right.


    While I respect your opinion, as well as Joshua's, my opinion runs counter to your philosophy. If I were to stick to lapping one pod (For argument's sake, lets use Snowdon since it's probably the largest, most developed, and offers trails for all abilities) then I would essentially be skiing a medium ski area with a 1114 foot vertical, and three lifts, (two chairs, one poma). Coming from NJ, there are many ski resorts that are closer to me that offer a larger vertical drop, more lifts, and a greater variety of trials than I would have by limiting myself to Snowdon, or any one pod. I don't want to drive four hours for that when I can do better and cut my driving time in half. I don't mind the drive if I am getting something better than that, which many resorts on Joshua's list offer.
    Again, it doesn't make me right or you wrong, but that is my opinion.
  • NJSki said:

    jgreco said:

    Killington's not my favorite but I agree with joshua_segal about sticking to pods. I've had my most enjoyable days there lapping one or two pods all day, and my least favorite memories are days when we try to ski the whole mountain.

    Really, it's just looker's left to right.


    While I respect your opinion, as well as Joshua's, my opinion runs counter to your philosophy. If I were to stick to lapping one pod (For argument's sake, lets use Snowdon since it's probably the largest, most developed, and offers trails for all abilities) then I would essentially be skiing a medium ski area with a 1114 foot vertical, and three lifts, (two chairs, one poma). Coming from NJ, there are many ski resorts that are closer to me that offer a larger vertical drop, more lifts, and a greater variety of trials than I would have by limiting myself to Snowdon, or any one pod. I don't want to drive four hours for that when I can do better and cut my driving time in half. I don't mind the drive if I am getting something better than that, which many resorts on Joshua's list offer.
    Again, it doesn't make me right or you wrong, but that is my opinion.
    Good comment NJSki. So if you are limiting yourself to areas that have greater than 2K vertical that take you to the summit in a single ride, the only choices for you are Jay, Smugglers', Stowe, Cannon, Wildcat, Le Massif, Mt. St. Anne and Mont Tremblant. Not sure about Whiteface or Gore. Stratton (gondola) and Mad River (single) are close to 2K, but not quite.
  • edited August 15

    .

    Good comment NJSki. So if you are limiting yourself to areas that have greater than 2K vertical that take you to the summit in a single ride, the only choices for you are Jay, Smugglers', Stowe, Cannon, Wildcat, Le Massif, Mt. St. Anne and Mont Tremblant. Not sure about Whiteface or Gore. Stratton (gondola) and Mad River (single) are close to 2K, but not quite.

    No, I am not limiting myself to 2K vertical/one lift areas, although that would be nice. I would say any ski area with a vertical drop of 1,200 ft+. If I were to choose between a day on Snowdon, or a day at Windham, I would choose Windham. It beats Snowdon in every way possible except for length of season, and is 2 hours closer to home. Perhaps Bromley is a better comparison to Snowdon? Would you prefer to spend a day lapping Bromley or lapping Snowdon? Bromley didn't make your list, but Killington did, but what you are saying is limit yourself to a Bromley sized pod in Killington to make it enjoyable. If I go to Sugarbush, I don't feel the need to stay on the Super Bravo/Gadd Peak pod (equivalent to Snowdon)to make my day enjoyable.
  • As someone who was ALL about WV in the SJ1.0 days, learned to snowboard, introduced a lot of friends to the sport, and fell in love with riding there I get it. Like others have said, it's just a bit outclassed. The High Country pod is fun, but 85% of the time a total wind swept nightmare and when you realize that it used to be classic tight trails it's infuriating. Back then the parks were also a major part of the resort and bringing in crowds with big events and a great park, that is not going on today.

    In the 17 years since I first went to WV barely anything has changed. NO NEW LIFTS. 17 YEARS! And it is not as though when I showed up as a kid back then all the lifts were shiny and new. They were already aging a bit back then except for Quadzilla and White Peaks. And as a snowboarder losing the double for a T Bar is a loss. Green Peak was needed just to stay somewhat relevant. I would say Burke and Pico are in a very similar situation being just a bit outclassed.

    The sad part is back in say 04/05 Waterville was right there with Loon. If Green Peak was built then around the time of South Peak at Loon they could be installing a gondola to the summit from Town Square right now instead of moving the world's slowest triple(unless the thinking here was always "we'll get ten years out of World Cup and that's enough time to do the gondola and then the triple is just insurance").
  • When the lifts are running, all trails are open and and are fu lly covered side-to-side and top-to-bottom, they're all good.
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