"Beautiful views of the lake. Great new lodge. Excellent grooming and snowmaking."
Since Mount Sunapee's lease a few years back to the folks who own Okemo in Vermont, this sleepy state-owned mountain has joined the front ranks of New England skiing.
Make hay while the sun shines? The snow farmers at Mount Sunapee adhere to that adage, taking advantage of those sunny, cold midwinter days (and starry nights) to crank out a consistently abundant snow crop. Ranked No. 1 in the East for Grooming and No. 2 for Snow, Sunapee offers superb early- and late-season skiing and gracefully weathers those New England thaws. Meanwhile, expansive lake and mountain views make you feel like yourescaped to the far north, though you're only 90 minutes from Boston. You can drive to within yards of the lifts and boot up at either of two convenient base lodges. From there, the Summit Express accesses every bit of the resort's respectable 1,500 vertical feet. The mountain skis bigger than it looks, thanks to double-diamond bump runs like Goosebumps, impeccably groomed Sun Bowl runs like Wingding and Flyway and gentle ramblers like the two-mile Ridge Trail. True, Sunapee gets hopping on weekends. But a sensible layout (with separate areas for beginners and terrain-park shredders), uncluttered lodges and lots of roving volunteers make it all run smoothly. Also true, the classic Spruce Lodge "needs some work," and aside from slopeside Goosefeathers Pub, the best apres-ski and dining options are in neighboring towns. But you'll find delicious food at Sunapee Lodge's Sizzler Station. And springtime means not only early corn snow in Sun Bowl, but convivial tailgate barbecuing at The Beach, the 600-foot stretch where the parking lot abuts the Flyway trail between the two lodges. - Edie Thys
Thirty additional energy-efficient snow guns to go with last year's 18
Bring the grandkids. Anyone 60 or older who buys a full-price, full-day ticket can bring a grandchild (ages 6-18) for half price. Meanwhile, on Magic Mondays everyone skis for $40.
A tailgating spot at The Beach on a sunny spring day. The hardcores start showing up around 6 a.m.
Underused Elliot Slope, off the Spruce Peak triple, is also known as "Corduroy Four" because it still has corduroy at a quarter to four.
Blast Off. Get there before the crowds, and let your skis run top to bottom.