The first time you ski Gore Mountain, you might feel like you’ve stepped back in time. A big mountain that escaped glitzy development, Gore has no pretensions. It’s set in the heart of the Adirondacks, 40 minutes from Lake George and four hours from New York City, but it might as well be years away.
With long runs that are rarely overcrowded, Gore offers endless vistas that reach into the Green Mountains of Vermont and north to the Canadian border. And it’s determinedly non-commercial—there’s not a place to stay anywhere at the slopes. Thank owner New York State for that. (Closest beds are in North Creek, five minutes away.)
Gore and Bear Mountains compose the resort, and Gore tops out at 3,600 feet, with a 2,300-foot vertical drop. Lake-effect snow contributes to Gore’s average 150-inch cover, aided by 95 percent snowmaking. The longest trail is 3.7 miles and there are 13 glades. And Gore unveils the Burnt Ridge Mountain expansion this month, with four new trails, two glades and the new high-speed Burnt Ridge Quad. And it still claims one of only two gondolas in the state. It’s a big Eastern mountain with a small mountain feel. Perfect for a ski weekend.
From greater New York City, most of your four hours will be spent on the New York State Thruway. Since Gore has no slopeside accommodation, you’ll need to rely on your wheels to get around. In Chestertown, 20 minutes from the slopes, you’ll find the best beds in the area at the Fern Lodge, an elegant wood-and-stone bed and breakfast that’s one part Adirondacks, one part Ralph Lauren (from $275; 518-494-7238;
). Another option is the Alpine Lodge, on Main Street in North Creek, that has 14 rooms with wood stoves and log-style beds in the Adirondack Great Camp style (from $159; 518-251-2451;
You’ll need a break after the haul from the city, so check out the new barVino (518-251-0199) in North Creek, where they have 32 wines by the glass. If you want something a little more Gore, hit Black Mountain Lodge & Restaurant (518-251-2800;
) and order the meatloaf, the unofficial dish of the resort.
Get up early and visit Café Sarah (518-251-5959) in North Creek, where you can fill up with a breakfast burrito. Then find a spot in the parking lot by 8 and jump on the Northwoods Gondola to the top of Bear Mountain. You can see the steeps of Gore Mountain behind you, but resist temptation and warm up first. Do a corduroy run on Fox Lair to Wild Air, then jump on the gondola for seconds.
If you’re still finding your ski legs, head to Fairview, a black-diamond that will wake you up, and then take Twister, a long blue that snakes all the way down to the base. It’s back on the gondola, then down south-facing Topridge Trail. Take the Topridge Triple and follow Uncas or Pine Knot to the base of the Straightbrook Quad. This chair runs to the summit and the best runs on the mountain. It’s mostly black- and double-black diamonds here, including Rumor, which Gore locals say is the steepest in the East.
The gauntlet has been thrown, so take the challenge and plunge in. If your legs cooperate, you can yo-yo up the Straightbrook Quad for the rest of the morning, testing your mettle on Lies and Upper Darby, both double blacks, and then wind your way down Upper Steilhang when your empty stomach knocks.
This is brown-bag country, but if you didn’t pack a lunch, duck into Saddle Lodge, just below the summit of Bear Mountain. Its glass wall faces north toward higher Adirondack peaks. The typical skier eats are on the menu, including a decent hamburger with the works.
After lunch, ski down and explore the new Burnt Mountain Terrain, with 1,432 feet of vertical, on the north side of the lower mountain. Test out Sagamore, a long black-diamond, and then hit Cirque Glades, a true experts-only area that offers a taste of the backcountry. If there’s still gas in your tank, finish the day on the gentler pitch of Sagamore Glades, where the trees are well spaced for capable, if not expert, treeskiers.
Rack your boards and order a beer at the Tannery Pub in the base lodge, which has music from 2 to 6 p.m. and comfy booths made from vintage Gore gondola cabins. If you’ve got kids, bring them over to North Creek Ski Bowl, the original Gore Mountain area, and watch them rip down the lift-served tubing hill that runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every weekend.
Book a table at Friends Lake Inn in Chestertown, which is one of a handful of restaurants in the world with a Wine Spectator Grand Award (friendslake.com; 518-494-4751). OP Frederick’s is ideal for ribs, steaks and seafood (viop.net; 518-494-4141). The Wells House, in Pottersville, has pizza and other casual fare in its Once Upon a Moose Café, plus a more formal dining room (518-494-5995;
). Nightlife? Have one more and head back to the lodge.
Since time is of the essence, grab a Trailblazer—an egg, bacon and cheese breakfast sandwich—at the new-last-season Northwoods Lodge, a daylodge built in the classic Adirondack Great Camp style, then hop on the first gondola of the day. Warm up with a cruiser on Showcase, and then head back up and over to the Straightbrook Quad. Make tracks on Chatiemac and Hawkeye, blacks that are mellow enough to tempt a good intermediate, then jump into the trees of Straightbrook Glades—serious enough but with plenty of options to bail out. Move over to the High Peaks area and get up some speed on Hullaballoo, a groomed black-diamond. Finish with a thriller down Upper Darby, following Lower Cloud down to the base.
Now you’re ready to pack up the car and stop for a fireside lunch at Frederick’s, in Bolton Landing, with its views of frozen Lake George (518-644-3484;
). On the drive home, think about how four hours is all that lies between you and your newfound urge to become a Gore local.
SIGNPOST: Gore Mountain, NY 398 skiable acres; 2,300 vertical feet; summit elevation 3,600 feet; 150 annual inches; 82 trails; 12 lifts. Lift tickets: $71; youth (13–19) $55; juniors (7–12) $38; seniors (65–69) $55; seniors (70 and over) and kids (6 and under) free
From New York City, take the NYS Thruway to Exit 24. Take I-87 (the Northway) to Exit 23 (Warrensburg). Follow Route 9 for 4 miles to Route 28 and proceed 16 miles to the resort.
518-251-2411; snow phone: 800-342-1234;
- SKI MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2008