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.
More Steeps: The Steepest Inbounds Runs in North America
1. Upper Madonna Liftline, Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.
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.
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.
More: How Steep is Steep?
3. Black Magic, Magic Mountain, Vt.
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.
More Magic: Casting a Spell
4. Paradise, Mad River Glen, Vt.
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.
Think Bigger: The Steepest Inbounds Runs in North America
5. White Heat, Sunday River, Maine
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.