Classic New England trails like the ones you’ll find at Mad River Glen are what make skiing in the East so challenging and fun, especially when these narrow, steep, sometimes winding, sometimes plummeting straight down the fall line, rock-strewn swaths receive a healthy dumping of arctic powder from Mother Nature.
If you want to experience the thrill of skiing in its traditional form, right off the lift, check out some of these classic expert trails while you still have the legs … and the nerve.
Paradise, Mad River Glen | Don’t be lulled into a peaceful slumber from the solitude of your ride up the Single Chair, followed by a sheltered traverse through the trees along the Long Trail, because as soon as you make the turn into Paradise, you better be on your game. An 8-foot drop gets you started along a thrilling trail filled with tight twists and turns strewn with cliffs, rocks, frozen waterfalls, deep powder pockets, steeps and bumps.
Goat, Stowe | Steep is one thing; steep and a double fall line together make Goat among the most challenging runs in New England. With an average pitch of about 36 degrees, the trail drops more than 2,000 feet, presenting rock ledges, boulders and streams along the way. It is one of Stowe’s “Front Four” and is accessed off the Fourunner Quad.
Liftline, Sugarbush | With the added element of being located directly beneath the Castlerock Double Chair, Liftline is all thrill because of the choices you can make on the way down and the instant feedback you might get from above. Hucking the headwall is one option; so too is taking on the rock faces, boulders, bumps and lift tower launching pads with as much or as little speed as you desire.
Misery Whip, Sugarloaf | An old T-bar line, this narrow chute off King Pine Quad is a double-black steep plunge with bumps galore.
Devil’s Fiddle, Killington | Outer Limits gets all the glory, but my choice for challenge off the Bear Mountain Quad is the Fiddle. You can drop a cliff and enjoy an unrelentingly steep bump run without the constant feedback from the chair.
Face Chutes, Jay Peak | Perusing this run from the tram might convince you to steer clear of its breathtaking steeps, but wind your way through a technical entry and perch yourself above the initial drop to give yourself a second chance. The jump into your first turn is the hardest, but once your skis hit the snow, it’s all good.
Upper Liftline, Smugglers’ Notch | A band of ledges drops down to a breathtakingly steep headwall beneath the Madonna I lift. The unavoidable time you spend in the air will be peaceful compared to the challenge your legs and mind will face on this terrain.
DJ’s Tramline, Cannon | If serious obstacles are your thing, check out this steep and boulder-strewn straight-shot beneath the tram. It requires lots of snow to open, so when it does, jump on the opportunity. Then spend the next exhilarating thousand-plus feet dropping off a series of cliff steps.