Sugarbush, Vt.: Rank 4 East, 1998

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A ski town with more cows than Range Rovers? Welcome to the Mad River Valley. Readers praise the scenic villages of Warren and Waitsfield and rave about the Sugarbush terrain. "Might be the best in the East," says one. There are plenty of gentle slopes, but Sugarbush is an expert's heaven, from hump-busting Stein's at the south end to Upper FIS to the north. In between is Castlerock¿Sugarbush's crown jewel. "The Rock" is 2,237 vertical feet of old-fashioned gnarliness. Beginners and intermediates are well advised to soak up the sun on the south slopes of North Lynx Peak. Readers did complain that the base lodge isn't adequate, especially on cold, crowded weekends. And finding the nightlife requires patience. Try parking your car at the corner of Routes 17 and 100. From there, walk to après-ski at Mad Mountain Tavern, casual dinner at The Den and late-night rowdiness at Gallaghers. Fine dining? Try Chez Henri, The Common Man or the new Pitcher Inn. Sugarbush has it all¿if you know where to look. "Nice mountain for all types of skiers," concludes one reader.

What's New Base lodge facelift; snowboard terrain at Mountain Rage Snowpark, Slowpoke and Mt. Ellen's Godzilla park.
A Good Deal Open-Dec. 17 (except Nov. 25-29), $69 per night at the Sugarbush Inn, lifts included. Call (800) 537-8427.
Medals Gold Challenge, Terrain; Silver Lifts, Service, Dining, Snow Quality.
High/Low Rank Lifts (17), Access (53).
Don't Miss The Warren Store: A Nineties general store, with creaky floors, great wines, gourmet treats and a fantastic deli.
Reader Remarks "Castlerock is cool!" "Multiple base lodges, none of them all that good."