East Coast

5 Seriously Steep Eastern Runs

East Coast skiing is known for ice and challenging terrain, but steeps? That too.

Like Eastern steeps like the ones featured in this article? Then you’ll really like SKI’s highly opinionated list of the 10 Toughest Trails in North America, available exclusively to Active Pass members. If you don’t have Active Pass, well, why not? Join here.

Western skiers take it for granted that their ski areas are more hardcore than their Eastern counterparts and like to pooh-pooh the idea that the East Coast boasts some truly challenging terrain. Mountains out East may not have the vertical you get out West, but we’re willing to wager that advanced and expert skiers spoiled by wide-open slopes and forgiving snow would call these narrow, gnarly East Coast runs more than a little challenging.

1. Upper Madonna Liftline, Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

East Coast Skiing
Upper Madonna Liftline at Smugglers’ Notch. Photo courtesy of Brian Mohr

So you like an audience? You can practically touch the chairs overhead from the Liftline entrance. Fifty-something-degree pitch, boulders, mandatory air depending on coverage. Gnarly.

2. The Slides, Whiteface Mountain, N.Y.

Whiteface Mountain, NY
A close-up of Whiteface Mountain‘s steep chutes. Photo courtesy of Whiteface

The slides are a collection of chutes and ice-covered waterfalls that are guaranteed to scare the pants off even the most technical of skiers. Be ready for it all: glades, rocks, cliffs, and more.

3. Black Magic, Magic Mountain, Vt.

Red Line at Magic Mountain
Magic Mountain ranks tops in the Challenge and Terrain categories in the East for SKI Magazine’s Reader Resort Survey. Photo credit: Justin Cash

Narrow, largely under the liftline (no pressure), and boasting 40- to 50-degree pitches, Black Magic descends 500 hair-raising vertical feet before funneling into Black Line, another 800 vertical feet.

4. Paradise, Mad River Glen, Vt.

Paradise ski run at Mad River Glen in Vermont
Half the challenge on Paradise is overcoming the run’s natural obstacles. Photo credit: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Sustained 40-degree pitch accompanied by every type of terrain out there—bumps, trees, cliff bands, rock outcroppings, etc. Mad River Glen‘s Paradise will make you work for it, but it is well worth the effort.

5. White Heat, Sunday River, Maine

Biggest East Coast ski resorts: Sunday River, Maine
Sunday River, post-storm and pre-moguls. Courtesy of Sunday River

White Heat isn’t insanely steep, but the sustained moguls combined with the consistent pitch make it a real leg burner best suited for experts with technical skills and thighs of steel.