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Resort Guide 2022

The 10 Best Eastern Resorts for Challenge

If you're looking to test yourself on Eastern slopes, make a beeline for these resorts.

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Western ski resorts get all the love when it comes to snow quality, size, and vertical—as they should. But when it comes to challenge—now that’s a category where Eastern ski resorts can hold their own. Set aside the fact that skiing Eastern snow conditions is a unique challenge in and of itself, and you can still talk about challenging glades, billy-goat terrain, and bump runs that go on for days (or at least, longer than your legs can handle). We asked readers to tell us which Eastern resorts top the charts in challenge, and here’s their list for the 10 resorts with the most challenging terrain in the East.

Top 10 Resorts in the East for Challenge

No. 10: Gore Mountain, N.Y.

Score: 8.63
Other Strengths: Value (#5), Lifts (#7)
Weaknesses: Service (#20), Lodging (#19)

Gore Mountain
(Photo: Courtesy of Gore)

What Readers Say

“Gore is a skier’s mountain. It offers excellent East Coast skiing, grooming, and steeps, plus lots of glades.”

“Good family mountain. New lifts and lodges are great. Lots of old cut trails to enjoy.”

“Gore is a great and versatile resort. It has terrain for every ability level. I first skied Gore when they had 43 runs, they now have 110! It still has the feel of skiing before all the glitz that is now so pervasive. It just feels comfortable. My only regret is that the conditions can vary due to weather, but that is skiing.”

No. 9: Sugarbush, Vt.

Score: 8.76
Other Strengths: Local Flavor (#9), Variety (#7)
Weaknesses: Family-Friendly (#17), Value (#17)

Skier on Paradise at Sugarbush
(Photo: Courtesy of Sugarbush/Hans Jonathan Von Briesen)

What Readers Say

“Our favorite mountain in Vermont! Fantastic variety of terrain, all sorts of challenge, good lift coverage. The only complaint is that ticket prices have skyrocketed—if you don’t have a pass, the prices are exorbitant. We will have a pass for 2022 so we will be back, but if we didn’t, we would go elsewhere.”

“Sugarbush has the best vibe in the East, in my opinion. I always find the quality of skier that goes to Sugarbush is very high, and there is a certain level of stoke that all people seem to maintain.”

No. 8: Stowe Mountain Resort, Vt.

Score: 8.79
Other Strengths: Lodging (#5), Après (#5)
Weaknesses: Family-Friendly (#20), Lifts (#20)

Stowe Challenge
(Photo: Jesse Schloff)

What Readers Say

“It has everything: great, challenging skiing, great food, and a fun town.”

“Stowe is too expensive for what you get. I skied there five times this year and the snow quality was bleh, and then lines were TOO long. I do like that you can use the Epic app to see what the wait time is at the lifts.”

“Stowe is a great resort for a West Coast experience at an East Coast resort. Offers great skiing, and plenty of evening options throughout the town.”

No. 7: Killington, Vt.

Score: 8.95
Other Strengths: Snow (#3), Après (#3)
Weaknesses: Local Flavor (#15), Family-Friendly (#19)

Killington Challenge
Killington Ski Resort. People wearing Mammut clothing (Photo: Killington Resort)

What Readers Say

“Go here most years with a group of friends; a relatively easy 8 hour drive from home (which decreases costs). Lots of terrain variety and challenge and plenty of really good skiing; lots of great places to eat and have fun up and down the access road. I always have a great time here.”

“This is my local mountain where we know everyone. Nobody makes snow like Killington. Longest season in the East. Great tree skiing. Plenty of steeps and if you want moguls, come to the Beast and challenge yourself. There is terrain here for everyone. Our Whistler friends come here for the spring snow! The nightlife on the Access Road is legendary.”

No. 6: Sugarloaf, Maine

Score: 9
Other Strengths: Terrain Variety (#4), Snow (#4)
Weaknesses: Access (#20), Dining (#16)

Sugarloaf Challenge
Location: Sugarloaf Backside Skier: Sean Mullins (Photo: Jamie Walter)

What Readers Say

“Above tree line glade skiing on the summit, long runs from the summit to the base, fast cruisers, beautiful scenery from the summit, and a cozy, small town feel.”

“Arguably the best ski resort in the East. The remoteness of the area means it’s less crowded. The Burnt Mountain area gives you tons of glades and cat skiing. Lift system keeps people spread out, and the coming West Mountain upgrades will be great. Can’t wait to go back!”

No. 5: Cannon Mountain, N.H.

Score: 9.14
Other Strengths: Lifts (#2), Value (#3)
Weaknesses: Grooming (#18), Lodging (#18)

Cannon Mountain Challenge
(Photo: Cannon Mountain)

What Readers Say

“An icon of Eastern skiing. Watch the weather forecast and hit it on a good stretch. So varied in aspects, so varied in challenge. Great for the whole family. The views of the neighboring mountains still stun me! Driving up from the south through the pass is a sobering moment…time to put your Big Boy pants on!”

“Cannon is tops in New Hampshire, from the vertical to terrain variety, the views, historic vibe, and quality snowmaking.”

“Cannon has the goods! Epic terrain, tons of snow, and damn cold! I love this place. Their trails challenge and humble me ever time. One of these days I’ll tame them.”

No. 4: Whiteface Mountain N.Y.

Score: 9.18
Other Strengths: Lodging (#4), Nightlife (#4)
Weaknesses: Snow (#18), Grooming (#19)

Whiteface Mountain, New York
(Photo: Brian Mohr/EmberPhoto)

What Readers Say

“Some of the steepest runs I’ve ever encountered! My quads really got a work out!”

“Whiteface-the Olympic Mountain, dammit!!! Ski it if you can: groomed, powder, ice, crud, more ice, more crud—get it together, sonny. This ain’t no Disneyland, Jim.”

“Hey it’s Whiteface, something for everyone to ski. The patio parties in the spring are historic. You get to see the Olympic runs and start shacks. And those views from the top looking at Vt.—now who’s a flatlander?!”

No. 3: Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vt.

Score: 9.23
Other Strengths: Grooming (#1), Service (#1)
Weaknesses: Lifts (#14), Dining (#9)

Smugglers' Notch Challenge
(Photo: Smugglers’Notch)

What Readers Say

“Smuggs has it all! From the family-friendly activities and beginner slopes to challenging expert terrain and glades that are never the same two runs in a row. The lifties and staff are always friendly, helpful and fun!”

“Very friendly resort with super glades and challenging trails.”

“There is a vast amount of backcounrty skiing that you can get to without hiking and takes you back to the resort. So many hidden woods that not everybody knows about, so there are always fresh tracks to grab on a powder day, even when the powder is skied off on the trails.”

No. 2: Jay Peak Resort, Vt.

Score: 9.27
Other Strengths: Snow (#1), Service (#5)
Weaknesses: Grooming (#17), Nightlife (#17)

"2021 Resort Guide Jay Peak"
(Photo: Courtesy of Jay Peak)

What Readers Say

“Steepest, deepest, cheapest. Some of the best snow conditions on the East Coast, and my favorite glades. Great local vibe.”

“Best off-trail skiing on the East Coast. Steeps, bumps, lift-accessible sidecountry and amazing programs for kids.”

“Locals are sooooo proud of their mountain! The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. People are yahoo everywhere. Great woods and off-piste skiing.”

No. 1: Mad River Glen, Vt.

Score: 9.78
Other Strengths: Value (#1), Local Flavor (#1)
Weaknesses: Grooming (#20), Lodging (#17)

Mad River Glen Challenge
(Photo: Dave Trumpore)

What Readers Say

“Low stress, easy to be myself, no fancy people. My kids found it to be a wonderful and challenging playground and found plenty to challenge them as they grew up year after year. Same people there every year feels like family. Kids don’t get lost with only one base lodge.”

“Mad River Glen has some of the best challenging skiing in Vermont AND fun beginner and intermediate terrain, too. Unfortunately, the staff are the rudest I’ve ever had the misfortune of encountering and the locals aren’t great either. I was yelled at by some mom in December for not pairing up on a double during the pandemic! Despite this, the skiing speaks for itself, and I’ll keep coming back, although they win no awards for grooming.”

“Best challenge in the East. Vibe is on point.”