Gore Mountain, New York: Rank 9 East, 1997

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Owned by a state government notorious for bloated bureaucracies, Gore Mountain is one tax-supported operation that actually works. The hill is deceptive, with most of its respectable 2,100 vertical hidden behind a false summit. The terrain tends to dip and roll in an older, narrower style. That's because the state's constitution actually limits ski trail width in the Adirondack State Park. Experts rip it up under the Straight Brook Chair and on the area's signature steep run, Rumor. The Gore gondola is warm, old and slow. The weekend queues are long, so stick to the chairs. Despite North Creek's ski history dating back to the Thirties, it's a sleepy town with few services. The Copperfield Inn, though, is a first-rate lodge and restaurant. Most skiers stay about a half hour away in Lake George. The Sagamore, about 10 minutes closer, is a restored grand hotel. Its Sunday brunch will make you late for the slopes.

What's New A fixed-grip quad replaces the old North Chair double, accessing trails designated for "family" skiing.
A Good DealIf you don't like the skiing within an hour after buying your lift ticket, turn it in for a refund.
Don't Miss Grab a window seat for lunch in the lodge and watch snowboarders and skiers careen through the halfpipe.
Medals Gold Value; Silver Snow Quality, Terrain, Challenge, Accessibility.
High/Low Rank Value (15); Resort Service (73).
Reader Remarks "Close to home with varied terrain." "The woman in the office seemed more interested in going home than helping me."