Weekends: Sugarbush, Vt.

Long-awaited slopeside niceties complement the terrain at this Vermont resort.
Sugarbush thumb

With hardcore Mad River Glen right next door, Sugarbush doesn’t always get the credit it deserves as a “real skier’s” mountain. But it’s all that, with immense terrain covering two peaks spanning some four miles and 2,600 vertical feet. Experts find all the challenge they want, but there’s plenty for novices, too, and recent improvements to slopeside amenities give it polish to match its authenticity. Not everyone who comes here knows what a “sugarbush” is—a stand of trees in which sugar maples predominate. Galvanized sap buckets are long gone, but Vermont’s rural beauty is better preserved here than in any other ski town. Trendy nightlife and expensive shops? Look elsewhere. But for bucolic beauty and rustic serenity, this Vermont beauty can’t be beat.

SKI Sugarbush is ripe with options, including which mountain to ski. Lincoln Peak (called South by the locals) is the main mountain— and the original Sugarbush. Mt. Ellen (formerly Glen Ellen Ski Area, and still called North) is about five miles north. The two are connected by the 2.7-mile Slide Brook Express quad, which operates mostly on weekends and holidays. The differences? Lincoln Peak has more slopeside amenities; Mt. Ellen is less crowded. Blue groomers abound at both areas, but it’s the gnarly steeps that make the local kids so tough. At Lincoln Peak: Ripcord, Rumble and Stein’s. At Mt. Ellen: Exterminator, Upper FIS and Black Diamond. And that’s just a few; sugarbush.com.

STAY  The boutique ski hotel is alive in Warren Village, minutes from the slopes. By turns quirky and luxurious, the Pitcher Inn occupies a stately white-clapboard building with just 11 rooms and suites; pitcherinn.com. For rural immersion, try the Inn at Round Barn Farm, a large farmhouse converted into an uncommonly luxurious B&B; theroundbarn.com. Mountainside, Clay Brook Hotel gives Sugarbush the kind of slopeside luxury it’s been lacking; sugarbush.com/clay-brook.

DINE American Flatbread, located in an old farmhouse on Route 100, is cozy and inexpensive, and the pizza (oops, sorry— flatbread) is delicious, baked before your eyes in a wood-fired oven with fresh local ingredients and a fun side order of leftist foodie philosophy; americanflatbread.com. Chez Henri is an enduring Sugarbush icon with classic French fare. Ask Henri about the pole Killy climbed one night; 802-583-2600.

APRES On-mountain, the Slidebrook Tavern, at the base of Lincoln Peak, has been a hit with skiers since it opened three years ago; sugarbush.com. Fans of authentic ski bars should n0t leave the valley before checking out the Hyde Away Inn on Route 17. Find a nook inside the old farmhouse’s warren of rooms and enjoy the Ptexinfused vibe alongside the locals; hydeawayin.com.

MUST TRY Lincoln Peak’s famed Castlerock, if the conditions are good; or even better, catskiing. The former is a classic terrain pod with four rowdy trails served by a fixed-grip double. The latter is offered whenever there’s powder; sugarbush.com.


Emily Johnson at Sugarbush

Inside Line: Sugarbush, VT

A new base village and a growing emphasis on steep, powder-stuffed glades have made Sugarbush one of Vermont’s top resorts. The ski area offers 111 trails, served by 16 lifts, spread across three peaks, each with its own distinct flavor. For manicured steeps and fat bumps, hit Lincoln Peak. For no-bullshit, rowdy terrain, schralp Castlerock. For underutilized glades and meandering cruisers, there’s always Mount Ellen. Here’s how to make the most of all three.