Unlike when I was growing up, today’s youth have no conception of the way it used to be — that when ski season was over, so too was any reason to drive back to the ski resort until the snow started to fly again. Boy has that changed in the past 15 years.
Nowadays, a New England ski resort that isn’t offering fun and adventure for all four seasons is working hard to do so. Mountain resorts are going to great lengths to continually introduce a wide variety of activities and adventures that appeal to everyone in the family. Below is a sampling of some of the new and popular adventures you’ll find when you make the worthwhile trip into the mountains this summer.
The Woodward WreckTangle, an outdoor ninja obstacle challenge, is a new feature this summer at Killington’s Adventure Center. The outdoor ninja course was first introduced by Woodward at the base of Copper Mountain, Colo., last summer and features nine different sections of unique obstacles, including cargo nets, balance beams, rope swings and more.
The WreckTangle is designed to test athleticism, agility and amusement in both kids and adults, appealing to youth lifestyle and action sports experiences like skateboarding, parkour, gymnastics, skiing and snowboarding.
Also new this summer, Killington’s Mountain Bike Park will make improvements to beginner terrain, unveil the newly completed Krusty Trail on Ramshead and extend riding hours. Guests also will have the opportunity to gain year-round access to all of Killington’s best adventures by purchasing the Beast 365 Year-Round Pass for $99 per month. The new pass offering provides unlimited lift and trail access for mountain biking, plus golf course greens fees and access to the Adventure Center, as well as unlimited winter access for skiing and snowboarding at the resort.
Disc golf and dinner
Bolton Valley is introducing Thursday night 18-hole disc golf social tournaments this summer that will include weekly dinners featuring local, fresh ingredients paired with Vermont craft brews. Disc golfers will “tee off” at 6 p.m. on Thursdays from June 21-Oct. 11, and compete for weekly cash prizes.
Magic back nine
Magic Mountain debuted a 9-hole disc golf course last summer and is currently building out a back nine that will be ready for play by July 4 weekend. Also new at Magic this summer, the TimberQuest High Trees Adventure Park will reopen in July, bringing back family adventure and challenge. Magic also will launch Summer Friday Movie Nights on the lawn, and Black Line Tavern’s Summer Music Series will be featured on Saturday nights.
Evolution at Okemo
Okemo this summer is expanding its Evolution Bike Park that was introduced last year to add lift-served mountain bike riding at the resort. Eb Kinney, vice president of mountain operations, said the resort is looking to add 2-3 miles of bike trail this year and each year to follow.
Okemo’s summit bike trails, including “Scrambler’s” 1,600 vertical feet of downhill flow, are accessed by the Sunburst Six that also welcomes non-bikers who want to experience a Vermont mountaintop in summer. Round-trip scenic chairlift rides are available daily.
Jay Peak’s turf
Jay Peak will expand its year-round recreational offerings by building two synthetic turf fields as it seeks to host soccer and lacrosse tournaments to generate room rentals and resort revenue. The two fields will be located just below the resort’s Inglenook Lodge property off Route 242.
“Part of our overall strategy in building facilities like the ice arena and indoor waterpark has been to drive lodging compression by adding amenities less impacted by the vagaries of weather,” said Steve Wright, Jay Peak’s general manager. “Building synthetic-turf recreation fields opens up the possibilities of hosting camps and tournaments for sports like soccer, lacrosse and field hockey during the May through November periods where we need to drive more occupancy.”
The two FIFA-sized pitches will be complete by fall, and the resort already has booked a number of tournaments for the summer of 2019.
New pro shop, STEM program
The Smugglers’ Disc Golf Center will host the 2018 PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships from Sept. 2-9, an event that will bring the top professional players from around the world to compete. In preparation, Smuggs is building a new pro shop at its Disc Golf Center, one that is four times larger than the current shop. Inside will be gear and equipment, as well as craft beers for purchase.
Also new this summer, Smuggs is expanding its summer activity options for families by introducing STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Activities are offered that teach problem solving, engineering and nature while families work in teams to design and build various projects. The new program will go hand-in-hand with other favorites around the Smugglers’ Notch Village, such as human foosball, life-sized chess, life-sized billiards (soccer style), pickleball and bocce.
Black via horseback
Black Mountain is again inviting families to explore the mountain on horseback this summer by offering onehour rides as well as exclusive overnight camping excursions. Guests will have their own horse and a trained guide to lead the hourlong traverse along Black’s ski trails, taking in spectacular mountain views along the way while rolling over hills and through meadows. Kids too young for the mountain rides can enjoy pony rides that meander near the base lodge.
The overnight excursions include dinner and breakfast — served by mountain staff — in Black’s log cabin, which sleeps up to six people. Riders leave the base area at 6 p.m. for a meandering ride to the cabin, which is equipped with electricity and running water. From there, participants can continue to explore the mountain, hiking farther up to take in views of Mount Washington, or simply relax in and around the cabin. Guests can sleep in the cabin bunk beds or set up their own tents.
Typical horseback riding season at Black runs from Memorial Day through the end of October. Reservations are strongly recommended.
During the past five years, Gunstock Mountain has been a recipient of Segway’s CEO Choice Award for both “Best Tour in the World” and “Best Tour in the Northeast.” With that track record, the resort’s Off-Road Segway X2 tours cannot be missed.
The all-terrain Segways — twowheeled, self-balancing personal transporter vehicles — are available in Gunstock’s Adventure Park. Each all-terrain X2 is equipped with rugged tires specifically designed to maneuver through varied terrain and handle the most demanding riding. To move forward or backward, riders simply lean slightly forward or backward, and it’s the same for turning left and right. Those skills will be put to use as resort tours will take you through the cross-country ski trails around Gunstock Mountain.
Participants must be age 14 and older and weigh between 100 and 250 pounds. Youths aged 14 and 15 must be accompanied on the tour by a participating parent/guardian.
L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools will be offered at Sunday River Resort on Monday through Thursday from June 2 to Aug. 23. Classes meet at the Grand Resort Hotel. Course offerings are as follows:
- Archery Discovery: This 80-minute introductory course will focus on safety and will teach participants how to release an arrow for optimal accuracy and precision. All necessary archery equipment is provided.
- Kayaking Discovery: This 90-minute course covers paddling terminology and basic stroke techniques. L.L. Bean’s skilled guides will share their extensive knowledge of the sport of kayaking and give insight about places in Maine to explore on your own.
- Solo Kayak: This three-hour guided tour of Round Pond in Greenwood, Maine, the birthplace of L.L. Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean, will include knowledge of the plants, wildlife and local history of the pond. All necessary paddling equipment is provided.
- Stand-Up Paddleboarding: This 80-minute discovery course blends exercise and fun. You’ll learn the fundamentals of stand-up paddling and the essential water skills necessary for water safety. Expert instructors will teach you the history of the sport and share anecdotes of their paddling excursions.
Ziprider at Wildcat
Riders travel on four side-by-side cables suspended at heights up to 70 feet on a 12 percent grade and reach speeds up to 45 mph. The Ziprider descends 2,100 in total, whisking riders high above the resort’s trails, trees and the Peabody River to a landing platform located a short distance from the Main Base Lodge. And the view of the Mount Washington Valley is stunning.
Cranmore Mountain Resort has added an activity to its Mountain Adventure Park offerings this summer with Knockerball, the inflatable bubble spheres that are worn backpack-style with inner handles and adjustable shoulder straps. Players each get their own bubbles for KnockerSoccer games, or simply to bounce around on their own or with friends. Players must be 48 inches or taller, and closed-toe shoes are required.
Cranmore also serves up the Mountain Coaster, a one- or two-passenger coaster ride that plunges down 2,400 feet of track, reaching speeds up to 25 mph. Along the way you’ll be twisting, turning and flying through the woods, rear passengers controlling speed with the hand-held brake for a leisurely ride or a screaming fast run to the end.
Other Cranmore attractions include the four-station Bungy Trampoline, CMore’s Mining Adventure, Soaring Eagle Zip Line, Giant Swing, tubing, a climbing wall and a ropes course.
Bungee Trampoline at Sugarbush
If you weigh between 20 and 200 pounds and are reasonably fit, get yourself hooked into the four-station Bungee Trampoline at Sugarbush Resort. This small square tramp with ropes and pulleys hooked to a harness allows jumpers to reach heights of 25 feet in the air, where those skilled enough can perform high-flying tricks.
Loon’s Aerial Forest Adventure Park
Put your balance and agility to the test in one of New England’s newest adventure courses, the Aerial Forest Adventure Park on the lower slopes of Loon. The park offers five separate courses of varying levels of difficulty with features including a trapeze bridge, oscillating walk, Tibetan bridge, chain loops, tightrope walk, log suspension bridge and hanging wooden blocks. It consists of 62 platforms in the trees that are connected via a network of cables, wood, rope and ziplines.
Twin Zips at Sunday River
Make your way to the South Ridge Lodge to find Sunday River’s zipline adventure features, including its dual side-by-side 750-foot Twin Zips. Guides will fit participants with equipment (including two attachment points on each line) and review safety information prior to each zip. The ziplines are designed to use a gravity braking system complemented by an arrester system, giving riders a completely hands-free experience.
Mountain Coaster at Gunstock
Riders board their carts at the terminal building next to Gunstock’s Adventure Park. After an 1,800-foot ride up the mountain — which stretches through the woods between 20 and 30 feet off the ground in some places — riders will begin their 2,660-foot plunge down the track, which makes two complete circles and features several sharp turns, crossing five bridges along the way.
The ride drops 221 vertical feet with speeds reaching 25 mph between the trees and featuring beautiful views of the Lakes Region. Riders use a brake to control their speed and there is an automatic anti-collision system built in which slows the carts automatically.
Aerial Challenge Course at Sunapee
Adventurers will self-guide themselves through obstacles — 32 in total — that stretch from tree to tree along a beginner loop, two intermediate loops and an advanced loop of varying height and difficulty.
Timber Ripper at Okemo
The Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster offers a scenic and exhilarating ride through alpine forests and along the contours of the mountain at Okemo’s Jackson Gore. The roller-coaster ride features stainless-steel tubular rails for a smooth run down the mountain with sled-like cars that can be handled by one or two passengers, who control their own speed.