By Mike Roth
(February 2016) I live in the Capital District of New York State, where I have the best of all worlds when it comes to skiing opportunities in the northeast. I have numerous ski areas at my disposal which allows me a number of options for day trips. Day tripping is one of the best ways to keep skiing affordable, especially when you may have 3 or 4 or more skiers in the family.
Vermont and Massachusetts have ski areas within 2 hours of my doorstep and in my opinion that’s the drive-time limit to day trip skiing. So why do so many people ski in Vermont instead of New York State? Maybe it’s just the attraction New England charm, or the excellent highways from the New York metropolitan area to Vermont. There are certainly numerous larger ski areas comparable to those in Vermont right here in New York. As a matter of fact there are over 50 ski areas in New York State.
The larger areas are in the eastern part of the state, closest to the Vermont border. For that “big mountain” experience spend a day at areas like Gore Mountain, Whiteface Mountain, Hunter Mountain, Bellaire Mountain and Windham Mountain. These are the primary resorts to experience in New York State. All of these areas have substantial vertical (from 1,500 ft to just over 3,000 ft) and high speed lifts that easily compare to many of the New England resorts. These areas are easy to get to. Just jump onto the New York State Thruway and 20 to 30 minutes of traveling west will find you in the Catskills, approximately 2 hours from NYC metropolitan areas. Gore and Whiteface are 30 minutes west of the Adirondack Northway, which is about 1.5 to 2 hours respectively from the Albany capital district.
When you reach the summit of Whiteface Mountain, you’re at the top of northeast skiing. No ski area in the east reaches higher. Dozens of Adirondack peaks jut into the horizon around you. The fresh air filling your lungs has just blown over Adirondack Park, a protected area larger than Yellowstone and Yosemite combined. Below you lye trails that have led Olympic athletes to glory. American Phil Mahre won a Silver Medal here in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Andrew Weibrecht, a Lake Placid local who grew up skiing at Whiteface, earned a Bronze Medal in Super G at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and a Silver Medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics! Of course you can’t forget the town of Lake Placid with all of its Winter Olympic venues to see and experience.
The further west you go the smaller the mountains become. If you’re in the Syracuse area you can ski areas like Song Mountain, Greek Peak and Labrador. These 3 areas are smaller with about 750 vertical feet. If you want to ski while in the Syracuse area each of these mountains delivers a fun experience and a great value.
There are also areas further west that service the Buffalo and Rochester area such as Brantling and Kissing Bridge. Again, many of the ski areas have limited elevation but are still great opportunities to get out and ski.
I guess I’m lucky in where I live. I can probably ski 20 different ski areas in New York, Massachusetts and Vermont within 2 hours of my house. There’s no real reason to venture further.
In addition to the White Book, for more information about New York State skiing check out the website https://www.iskiny.com/ . You’ll find deals and events going on throughout the season at all the New York State ski areas.