Get lost. Get really, really lost. It's easy at Killington, where lifts and trails sprout and twine in so many directions it can feel as if the place has no boundaries. "Miles to ski before I sleep," marvels one reader. Up for bumps? Hit Bear Mountain. Gentle learning slopes? Stick to Snowshed. Expert steeps? Explore the Canyon. True, on busy weekends, the Beast can also feel like a four-leaf-clover highway at rush hour, as several readers note. But here's the key difference: Everybody's happy. Unless, of course, they got a little too happy the night before. This also frequently happens at Killington, where, despite the resort's attempts to entice families, the Access Road still resembles a seven-mile-long monument to hedonism, with great dining and plenty of truly legendary après clubs: The Wobbly Barn, The Outback, The Pickle Barrel. Again, big crowds-and, again, happy ones. "Great bars, bands, babes, bumps and Bear Mountain, too," says a reader. New sidewalks and streetlights give the Access Road more of a human scale, but it's still a strip. The antidote-a base village-remains on the planning board until ASC can raise multi-millions. Hopefully the village will evoke the feeling of a mountain hamlet rather than a corporate theme park. The long-awaited interconnect with Pico is also stalled. A few readers gripe about indifferent service and a "factory" feel. Such complaints hardly seem relevant when you're standing atop Vermont's highest skiing, surrounded by wind-sculpted snow forms and endless vistas. The Beast is a big place, and it's waiting to be explored.
WHAT'S NEW For once, virtually nothing, as Killington prepares for the new base village push.
A GOOD DEAL Early- and late-season Family Ski Weeks: Lifts and lodging from $693 for a family of four with kids under 12 free; before Dec. 20 (except Thanksgiving) and after April 7. 800-621-6867 or www.killington.com.
MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Après-Ski; SILVER Snow, Lifts, Lodging, Dining, Off-Hill Activities, Family Programs.
HIGH/LOW RANK Après-Ski (4), Off-Hill Activities (16), Dining (17); Service (64), Weather (65), Value (74).
DON'T MISS A ride on the quirky South Ridge triple (hang on as it takes a hard left halfway up).
READER REMARKS (+) "Great ski school." "Enormous. Terrific party town."
(-) "Need to drive everywhere." "Too many lifts closed midweek."