2001 Number 18 Resort in the East: Jay Peak, Vt.

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Tucked away hard by the Canadian border, Jay Peak reminds you a bit of Jackson Hole, Wyo. There's the tram, of course. And both resorts are a bit hard to get to, but well worth the trip. Both are popular with the hardcore but missed by the masses, which contributes to an in-the-know satisfaction shared by aficionados. And both are known for tough terrain that separates pros from posers. Did we mention the snow? Our readers did, ranking Jay No. 1 in the East. The place just has a knack for getting itself walloped by rogue storms that miss everyone else-like the 4-footer last April, unnoticed by everyone except the locals and the Jay-savvy. The summit of Jay Peak, just shy of 4,000 feet, juts up in the middle of northern Vermont nowhere, with views north to Montreal, west to Lake Champlain, east to Mt. Washington and south to Stowe. The north-facing slopes offer a pleasing mix of terrain: straight-ahead cruisers off the Jet triple; wide-open bumps on Can-Am; winding groomers off the Green Mountain Flyer quad and famous white-knuckle tree shots off the summit. "Best tree-skiing in the East," say several readers. Yet it's all a bit too remote for many. And too quiet. "The town shuts down when the sun goes down," warns one. Others like that-and the laid-back atmosphere. "It's a ski area, not a resort. That's good." But mighty Jay may not sleep for forever. A planned base-village development and golf course figures to soon transform it into a four-season destination resort. That's all the more reason to see it now, so you can say you "knew Jay when..."

WHAT'S NEW Refurbished tram cabins; reopened summit food-and-beverage concession.

A GOOD DEAL Free childcare, anytime day or evening, for guests of Jay Peak lodging.

MEDALS GOLD Snow, Terrain, Challenge, Value.

HIGH/LOW RANK Snow (5), Terrain (16), Challenge (22); Off-Hill Activities (74), Après-Ski (74), Access (74).

DON'T MISS Clambering up the rocks to the true summit for great views of northern Vermont and Canada.

READER REMARKS (+) "Refreshing change of pace; the place to be when it's snowing." (-) "Very remote, with little to do after skiing."