The Ski Skinny
Hitting the Trails within an hour of so of Town
Skiers and boarders are a passionate bunch, with none more so than New Englanders. You may take trips out to the Rockies or the Alps, but there’s just something about skiing the East. There’s a reason why they say if you can ski here, you can do it anywhere. Even if these smaller mountains don’t tempt you as much as the bowls our West, their proximity certainly should.
In as little as half an hour, you can get from Main Street to a lift line. Swoosh down the corduroy trails for a few hours, and be back in time for Jack’s afternoon hockey game. Or, take advantage of the great night skiing- a well-loved tradition that started in the Northeast. Below are local ski areas that offer decent skiing at reasonable prices—all within a reasonable distance. Included are the approximate times from Ridgefield, as well as the price of a one-day adult pass (most areas offer packages, half-day, and child rates as well).
Patterson, N.Y., 30 minutes
Weekday $40, Weekend $50
Thunder Ridge, a 30-minute drive from Main Street, has a top elevation of 1,270 feet and provides 30 trails consisting of beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Lessons are provided for both children and adults and are modified to fit the experience of the skier or snowboarder. Thunder Ridge hosts events throughout the season, such as the winter carnival and college night, trying to cater to all ages.
Woodbury Ski Area
Woodbury, 50 minutes
Along with skiing and snowboarding, Woodbury Ski Area also provides a sledding and tubing park for those who want to take a break from the slopes and enjoy other types of winter activities. With a top elevation of 850 feet, 17 trails are open for skiing and snowboarding. There is a relatively even distribution of beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails and both private and group lessons are offered.
Southington, 60 minutes
Located in Southington, where a multiplex cinema, two museums, and shops line the streets, Mount Southington has a top elevation of 525 feet and is accommodating to all types of skiers and snowboarders with a relatively even distribution of beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails. There are 14 trails on this mountain, all of which are open at night. Lessons for children are available on weekends and holidays; children even have their own terrain, “The Glacier,” to learn how to ski and snowboard. Private, semi-private, and group lessons are offered for both adults and children.
Cornwall, 75 min
weekday $30, weekend $60
This is the mountain where Skiing Hall of Fame member Walt Schoenknecht perfected the art of snow-making in 1949. With a top elevation of 1,600 feet, Mohawk Mountain provides 24 trails, 12 of which are open at night, for skiing and snowboarding. The Mohawk Mountain Learning Center offers instructions for all levels, and a variety of children’s programs are offered for children as young as four.
New Hartford, 90 minutes
For a season that starts in early December and ends in late March, Ski Sundown provides 15 trails, 14 of which are open at night, for both skiing and snowboarding. With a top elevation of 1,075 feet, there are a variety of programs offered for both adults and children and an even larger variety in the types of lessons offered, such as freestyle and telemark.
Middlefield, 60 minutes
Powder Ridge has a top elevation of 800 feet, with a total of 16 skiable trails. Nighttime skiing and boarding is available, and the park features four different terrain parks of all levels. If you tire of skiing, take a break to go tubing down the mountain instead.
Hillsdale, NY, 90 minutes
weekday $33, weekend $63
With 35 trails, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Located just over the New York border, Catamount also features the longest run in the Berkshires at 2.5 miles. The mountain offers lessons for children and adults, as well as the Children’s Playroom for 2-6 year old not yet up to tackling the mountain. Night skiing available.
Great Barrington, MA,
1 hour 45 minutes
weekday $25, weekend $55
With a top elevation of 1,800 feet and 22 skiable trails, Butternut has great skiing and boarding for those in the area. For the 2014-2015 season they have added newer and larger snowmaking pipes, and another groomer to their fleet to keep their corduroy trails pristine. Two terrain parks and a tubing center keep things fun for everyone.
Blandford Ski Area
Blandford, MA, 2 hours
weekday $25, weekend $47
Blandford has 22 trails open for skiing, with a good distribution of beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails. Springfield Ski Club has been offering New England style skiing at Blandford Ski Area for over 75 years, making it one of the oldest ski clubs around. Night skiing available.
Pittsfield, MA, 2 hours
weekday $25, weekend $40
This mountain has 23 trails available for skiing, as well as two terrain parks. Bousquet offers tubing for the whole family, as well as a great ski school, earning a reputation of offering an enjoyable and economical children’s program for the past 45 years. Night skiing available.
2 hours 15 minutes
Jiminy Peak offers 45 trails, with 21 lighted for night skiing and riding. Jiminy has two large terrain parks and a smaller one, as well as a mountain coaster- one of the first in the U.S. Though ticket prices are slightly more expensive, Jiminy often offers great ticket specials online. The resort has multiple dining options, including your basic lodge food court, pub food at Christiansen’s Tavern, and a sit down dinner at John Harvard’s Restaurant and Brewery.