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Stowe Mountain Resort, Stowe VT, USA

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Stowe Mountain Resort is arguably the best ski mountain on the East coast. Known as the 'Aspen of the East', this resort offers a seriously high end ski experience. Stowe has a bit of an upscale atmosphere, which can often make it one of the most expensive places to ski, but it more than makes up for this with its terrain. Stowe sits on Mt. Mansfield, which is Vermont's tallest peak at 4395 feet. Its gets an average of 333 feet of fresh snow every year, so there is always a good chance for powder days. There are 116 cut trails accessed by 13 different lifts. The longest vertical drop on the mountain is 2160 feet and skiers who are looking for steep terrain will not be disappointed. Stowe lists its terrain as being 16% beginner oriented, 59% intermediate and 25% expert. Skiers and riders of all levels will find terrain that both challenges them and surprises them. Stowe also has some of the very best backcountry the state of Vermont has to offer, for those who know where to find it!

Stowe Mountain Resort
flickr image by leisuretime

Stowe Mountain Resort is located in north-central Vermont on RT 108, also known as Mountain Road. The closest airport is Burlington International, in the city of Burlington. From there it is about an hour's drive down Highway 89 to reach the resort. In the summer it is possible to reach the resort from the north via the Mountain Road through Smuggler's Notch, but the winter this road is closed. Stowe has terrain for both beginners and experts; it even has its own beginner's specific mountain. Located just across the Mountain Road is Spruce Peak, the beginner's mountain. This smaller mountain is accessible by a gondola that passes over the road and provides varied terrain that is perfect for learning. Most beginners start on Lower Spruce and then graduate to Upper Spruce. Most of the faster and higher level riders and skiers stay on the Stowe side, so there are fewer people to get in the way of the beginners. The left side of Stowe itself is also very beginner oriented, with great green circle trails like the Toll Road, which starts all the way at the top and offers the longest and easiest run on the mountain. The Toll Road is a full 13,035 feet in length and is accessible by the Four Runner Quad. The Mansfield Zone offers the mountain's freestyle playground, with a half-pipe and 3 terrain parks. These parks feature the big jumps if you have the skills to hit them! The terrain parks are accessible from the Mountain Triple Chair lift.

Stowe also has some of the hardest runs in the East and some of the best on-mountain glades. An awesome intermediate blue square run is the Perry Merrill, which runs from the top of the Gondola. Intermediate glade action can be found in the more open Nosedive Glades. These trees can be accessed from the Mountain Triple chair. For expert skiers and riders there is the Bypass, with its winding course, trees and rock ledges and the National, which offers the best bump action in the region. Both of these runs start from the Mountain Triple. The hardest run of the mountain is probably Upper Goat, which can be accessed from the Mountain Triple. The Gondola fits 8 people and offers spectacular views as it leads you to the top. From there intermediates and experts can ride down Chin Clip, which is steep and fast. Be wary of ice, as like all of the mountains of the East Stowe has been known to have icy and choppy conditions.

Off-mountain glade skiing can be accessed from Chin Clip by locating one of the many off-trails found on skier's left. Be careful in these glades; you may see tracks heading far off to skiers left. Many of these backcountry trails lead to the Hellbrook region, which is littered with large and often hidden cliffs. Some of these cliffs can be as high as 70 feet and every year the mountain loses a skier or two to them. They can be very dangerous. The locals will often hike from the base of the gondola to the tallest point of the mountain, known as the Chin. From there they access a backcountry run called Angel's Food. The mountain's top can also be dangerous, with high winds, icy conditions and exposed rocks, so it is not recommended that visitors attempt the hike. Be careful accessing the backcountry, if you get stranded or injured you could be in danger of frostbite and exposure. Avalanches have also been known to occur in Stowe's backcountry during heavy snowfalls.

Not only is Stowe one of the best mountains in the East for its terrain, but the mountain and the town are great places to check out the après ski scene. Après ski can be found on-mountain at the Spruce Camp Bar and the Great Room Grille, both of which can be found in the Spruce Peak base area. For high end après ski there is the Hourglass, located in the Stowe Mountain Lodge. The locals usually hit up a spot that is found a few miles down the mountain road. The Matterhorn is probably the best location for après ski and is where the locals go to relax. Look for the giant mugs that locals and mountain employees drink from and enjoy a game of pool. The Matterhorn also has great pizza. Another great pizza place in the town of Stowe is called Pie in the Sky. There are many places to stay in town and on the mountain itself. With a bit of research it is possible to find accommodations in town that can fit any budget. There is a free Mountain Shuttle that goes between the mountain and the town, so you don't have to worry about transportation. On-mountain lodging can be found at the Stowe Mountain Lodge and the Inn at the Mountain. The Inn at the Mountain sits at the base of the beginner's area and features its own chairlift- the Toll House Lift. Condos are also available for rent and some feature ski in/out options.

Anyone who wishes to experience some of the East Coast's best skiing should definitely consider hitting up Stowe. It is a mountain that every serious skier or rider should ride at least once. Ticket prices can be somewhat on the pricey side, but the lodges and lifts are super high end and nice. And the terrain cannot be beat!

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Stowe Mountain is where I learned to ski as a child and today I consider it my "home mountain". The children's programs are first rate and the private lessons for adults are taught by pure experts! Stowe Mountain also has a gondola for fast summit reaches and the views on the ride are something you have to see to believe. Their base resort is first rate with A+ accommodations, fine dining from around the world and after hour activities. The village of Stowe is a short five minute drive and something you don't want to miss! 

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