Skiing in the Catskill Mountains
Belleayre's Racing Leagues are extremely popular with both residents and visitors alike. Photograph by Franz Edlinger, eOneMedia.com
The winter season is once again upon us, and when the snow starts to fly it’s time to think about the joys of winter sports. The Catskill Region offers some of the best skiing in the northeast, and all of the ski resorts are within a short three hour drive from New York City.
Route 28, Highmount, NY
800 942 6904; 845 254 5600
Belleayre Mountain, New York’s Winter Snow Park, offers a total winter experience to all levels of snow sports enthusiasts. From confidence-building beginner slopes to double black diamonds and exciting new glades, lovers of winter can find their comfort zone or challenge it at Belleayre.
For those of you with fond memories of learning to ski at Belleayre Mountain but think you need a bigger mountain experience…think again. While Belleayre still retains bragging rights to being the Best Place to Learn to Ski in the East (Ski Magazine 2003), recent innovations are clearly geared for the more adventurous visitor. With the addition of two new glade runs on the upper mountain and “Lift Line,” the new double diamond trail under the Tomahawk Lift, brings the out of bounds, in bounds. Think of it as nature’s terrain park. Leave the beginners of the group in the good hands of Belleayre Mountain’s dedicated staff of instructors at Kids Camp and head for higher ground. You’ll find the glades located from the summit to mid-station between Winnisook and Tongora and from mid-station down Belleayre Run and Wanatuska. For more adventure, climb aboard the Beast of Belleayre and head out to Cathedral Brook for the only Cat-access skiing and riding in the Catskill Mountains. The bump lovers among you will never find a shortage on any of their upper mountain double diamonds, or if you’d rather just see how it’s done, take a break on the deck of the Overlook Lodge and watch the mogul antics at the base of Wanatuska.
Hone your skills in Belleayre Mountain’s new Carving Skill Park—the first on the east coast. Available free to the general public, this timed course is designed to improve your carving and turning technique whether you ski or ride. Think of it as an on-mountain self-directed learning tool. The timer allows you to gauge your level of improvement against no one but yourself. It is not a race course. Just jump in and see what your skis or boards have been designed to do in a non-intimidating atmosphere. Increase your ability and you’ll increase your enjoyment.
For traditional gate-seekers, Belleayre Mountain is hosting five Jim Cardenali Ski Camps, providing non-traditional training and instruction to improve your confidence and your race form. Cardenali Ski Camps are designed for skiers of intermediate ability and above with a desire to master the gates. Five weekend clinics are being offered: December 17-18, January 7-8, January 28-29, February 18-19 and March 11-12. Cardenali’s staff of international masters focus on fun and eliminate intimidation.
Belleayre’s wide trails and lift placement means this mountain absorbs more skiers with less crowding. Eight lifts are situated to disperse skiers across the mountain to avoid congestion and minimize lift lines. A distinct beginner’s area segregates future hotdoggers from the real ones, allowing newcomers to gain experience with confidence. Glades and bumps on the upper mountain provide challenge while Deer Run and Roaring Brook provide miles of intermediate cruising.
New deals abound at Belleayre Mountain for the 2005-2006 season, and there’s no need to carry a big stick to get them. Families of two, three, four or five receive savings of up to $374 on conveniently packaged Family Pack Season Passes. Receive an additional $100 discount when you bring a new family. The all new Transferable Season Pass means real flexibility. The pass may be used once daily throughout the season by a skier or rider of your choice. With Belleayre averaging more than 150 ski days per year, consider the savings options.
Winter Festival Week, January 21-29, 2006, stands out to remind us that winter feels good. In addition to special events and entertainment at the mountain, the villages of Phoenicia, Pine Hill, Fleischmanns, Margaretville and Andes are on board to provide both indoor and outdoor après-ski activities for the whole family. From January 23 through January 27, lift ticket prices are rolled back to an unheard-of $10 each day, Monday through Friday. It only makes sense to plan your midwinter vacation around prices like these. Call the Belleayre Region Lodging & Tourism Association at 800 431 4555 or visit www.catskillhighpeaks.com for lodging information. As the largest cooperative of accommodations in the Catskill Mountains, their membership includes mom-and-pop motels, full-service hotels and a myriad of unique B&Bs. Children 12 and under always ski and stay free.
Belleayre Mountain, operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, is dedicated to providing a quality on-snow recreational experience in an environmentally sensitive manner. Respect for the natural surroundings is the primary mission. Whether you choose alpine skiing, snowboarding, hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, Belleayre welcomes all to enjoy the remarkable resources offered there and only asks that you leave the mountains as you found them.
Cortina Mountain Resort
Clum Hill Road (off Route 23A), Haines Falls, NY
866 9CORTINA; 518 589 6378
Nestled in the beautiful northern Catskill Mountains, Cortina Mountain Resort is situated on over 300 acres offering guests wonderful facilities for fun in any season.
On the grounds of Cortina Mountain Resort you will find activities year-round, including a snowboard terrain park, snowtubing, cross-country skiing, paintball, hiking, swimming, four-wheeling, motorcross, mountain biking, mountain boarding and much more.
Cortina Mountain opened in 1969 as a ski center, and was purchased by the current management in 1999. Since that time, many improvements have been made to the resort, including a newly renovated hotel and lodge, and many more improvements will be made in the future. With all of these renovations and improvements, the management and staff at Cortina have worked to create a personalized four-season resort that also offers an intimate, cozy environment away from the hustle and bustle of overcrowded ski slopes.
This winter Cortina Mountain will offer snowtubing (including night snowtubing) in a four-lane snowtubing park and snowboarding in a terrain park. Cross country skiers and snowshoers are certainly welcome to use Cortina’s facilities as they make their way from the state trails that border the resort.
The newly renovated restaurant and full service bar and lounge offer everything from bar food to a full candlelit dinner. You can just sit back and relax in front of the fossil stone fireplace while you enjoy your meal.
Children under 12 stay free at Cortina. They also offer several mid week and weekend packages which include meals and unlimited use of the snowtubing and terrain parks.
Cortina Resort can also be rented out during off-peak season for family or business events. On the resort grounds are facilities to accommodate anywhere from 20 to 80 people, including clean and comfortable rooms, high-speed Internet access, a multi-purpose conference center, a fully equipped industrial kitchen, a spacious restaurant and much more. The staff at Cortina will provide cooking, cleaning and other requested services according to your specific needs.
99 Holiday Mountain Road, Monticello, NY
845 796 3161
If you are a snow sports fanatic or even if you hate the cold, Holiday Mountain has something for everyone!
This winter Holiday Mountain will have their new chalet built on the east side of the mountain at the bottom of the slopes. Because of the flood in April 2005, they were set back slightly in their plans for a new hotel and water park. But with their hopes and dreams intact, within the next two years they will begin to break ground on their 40-room scenic hotel, comprised of suites atop Holiday Mountain, and begin stages of building their newly designed Water Park.
Holiday Mountain promises a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that you and your family will enjoy. The beginner area and spectacular Snow Sports School makes learning a pleasurable experience. Don’t miss the opportunity for the younger members of your family to learn to ski. The Kinderski Program is for ages 4-6; parents have two hours to enjoy the slopes for themselves while young ones are entertained with a fun-filled learning experience. As always, they have rentals and lessons for both traditional downhill skiing and snowboarding. Every Thursday and Saturday night is family night. The entire family can ski for one low price.
Hunter's snowboard terrain park is a great place to carve some turns. Photograph courtesy of Hunter Mountain
Due to the popularity of tubing, Holiday Mountain now has two runs for tubing, located right next to the new chalet, which will better accommodate guests. For the snowboard enthusiast they have updated the Terrain Park.
When it’s time to rest, Holiday’s Pleasant Lodge continues the same friendly atmosphere that’s present on the slopes. After an exhilarating day on the slopes, you will want to grab lunch or warm up with a hot chocolate from the cafeteria. Don’t worry about missing your favorite sporting event; join friends in the lounge for an adult beverage and the game.
They are also adding to their Great Fun Park, which is comprised of mini-golf, go-karts, rock climbing wall, mechanical bull, and a state-of-the-art arcade with bumper cars. They will be adding a driving range, two brand new bounce around and another go-kart track, which will be designated for the smaller kids not able to drive the current go-karts.
Route 23A, Hunter, NY
1 800 HUNTERMTN; 518 263 4223
Providing skiers and riders with a genuine mountain experience for 47 years, Hunter Mountain is proud to be called one of the Catskill’s premier winter resort destinations, boasting renowned terrain, award-winning facilities and luxury mountainside accommodations, while producing some of the best snow conditions in the East!
In just three seasons, Hunter Mountain has completed most of its 35 million dollar expansion plan, entailing Terrain Park expansion, completion of the 33,000 square-foot Learning Center and 36 new condominiums in their Liftside Village, plus the all-new Kaatskill Mountain Club, offering luxurious slopeside accommodations for overnight guests.
Hunter’s commitment to beginners and families shines in their 33,000 square foot Learning Center, designed with guest comfort and convenience in mind. This state-of-the-art, nationally recognized Center caters to families, beginners, and skiers and riders whose ultimate goal is to improve! Inside the Learning Center, discover an exceptional team of snowsports instructors, the latest rental equipment, a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and a multitude of lessons, packages, seasonal programs and specialized workshops for every member of the family, plus the specially designated beginner terrain of Hunter One—the largest spread of learning terrain in the industry.
Back again for another season are Hunter’s unique swipe cards, offering on-snow savings and convenience in one swoop! The Big Lift Card offers a $10 savings on every weekend/holiday lift ticket, $14 off all midweek tickets, $23 Tuesday lift tickets, and FREE skiing during April. The Big Lift Card is only $49. A perfect plan for beginners is Hunter’s Try-Pak card, featuring three lift tickets, lessons and equipment rentals for only $89! Parents can save every time their kids participate in a children’s program with the special Kids Club Card, entitling mom and dad to $10 off every Explorers and Mountaineers program, all season long!
Plattekill Mountain offers a great skiing experience without all the frills. Photograph courtesy of Plattekill Mountain
Ski, snowboard, rip through the terrain park or improve your skiing. Test your speed with NASTAR, challenge your knees on the bumps of Hunter West or snowtube. Take advantage of the luxurious High Peaks Club and the Kaatskill Mountain Club, enjoy family-fun for all ages or embark on a peaceful, scenic snowshoe journey with close friends. Whatever your heart desires, Hunter Mountain has it.
Route 17A & Old Mount Peter Road, Warwick, NY
845 986 4940; 845 986 4992
For great skiing and boarding that’s practically in your backyard, visit the Mount Peter Ski Area in beautiful Warwick, NY.
They’re the perfect destination for you and your family. Your seven-year-old can ski the easy stuff while you take the more challenging trails, and you’ll still meet up at the bottom. It’s easy to keep track of the kids (and let them have independence at the same time).
Mount Peter prides itself on quality skiing and snowboarding, reasonable pricing and personal touches. Mount Peter’s Ski School is famous for its free lessons for beginner skiers (age 5 & up) at 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm on weekends and holidays. Beginner boarders (age 6 & up) can take a free introductory board lesson at 11 am or 1 pm on weekends and holidays. For private or group lessons, call or come in to make arrangements with one of their PSIA-trained instructors.
A beginners’ area with a handle tow is the perfect way for newcomers to be introduced to the sports of skiing and snowboarding. The surface lift is only a few short steps from the lodge, making it easily accessible for those who are just getting their ski legs. They’ve expanded their terrain park, adding rails and jumps for an awesome day on the snow.
You’ll have a terrific time at Mount Peter, on or off the snow! Relax with a hot chocolate at their outdoor picnic tables, or take a break over lunch in their comfortable lodge. Pete’s Place Tavern offers adults a quiet spot to watch a favorite game on TV or play some pool. Join the DJ on weekends, there to entertain the kids and kids-at-heart. Mount Peter has fun events all season long, for you, your family and friends.
Mount Peter is close to New York City, so load the family in the car and head to Mount Peter for a fun day of skiing and snowboarding! They have rentals if you need equipment, a retail shop if you forget something and snowmaking if Mother Nature hasn’t delivered it herself. You’re going to have a great time!
Plattekill Mountain Road, Roxbury, NY
800 NEED2SKI; 607 326 3500
At Plattekill Mountain, you’ll discover 35 trails, 1100 feet of vertical and a mountain that’s keepin’ the experience…real. You won’t find valet parking or sushi bars here. What you will find are challenging terrain, two-mile-long beginner cruisers and a mountain where no run is like the one before.
The December 2004 New York Post Travel edition voted Plattekill Mountain as “one of the top five Northeast slopes for well-rounded ski breaks” and “one of the greatest gifts a time-starved New York skier could ask for.” Located only three hours from the NY Metro area, Plattekill offers a unique skiing experience without overcrowded slopes. Asbury Park Press’ travel writer, Tina Traster, described Plattekill as an “off-the-beaten track treasure with no lift lines, inexpensive prices, fantastic skiing without frills” and “a mountain as pure as the driven snow.”
New this year, Plattekill Mountain continues to expand snowmaking, adding a new snowmaking pump to double capacities and over 7,000 feet of snowmaking pipe. Adding to that is an all new natural terrain park complete with all the park fixings. Continued expansion of children’s programs will be offered including the popular “Snowkidding” children’s programs for the little ones and “Mountain Meisters” for the older skiers on there way to becoming the next Bode Miller.
Best of all, Plattekill offers skiing and riding you can afford. Spend the night at a participating lodging facility in the area and children 17 & under ski FREE (some restrictions apply), or take advantage of 2-day rates and ski/ride your second day for only $26. Make it a long weekend and take advantage of new “Stay and Play” packages where you can ski Friday, Saturday and Sunday and snowtube Saturday night all for only $90 adult, $75 jr/sr/student. Plattekill also features a number of $10 lift ticket days: 1/6/06, 1/23/06, 1/27/06, 2/10/06, 3/3/06.
A 3 hour drive from the NYC area, it’s an easy trip for the family and a perfect distance for a weekend getaway. Albany, even closer, is a do-able day trip just 60 miles away.
The Plattekill Mountain experience awaits you for skiing, boarding or snowtubing and best of all, you’ll find a mountain that’s keepin’ the experience… real.
South Street, Windham, NY
1 800 754 9463; 518 734 4300
For 45 years, Windham Mountain’s uncompromising approach to service has made them the preferred resort for those seeking a relaxing getaway that’s fun for everyone. They have 42 trails for skiing and boarding, jib and terrain parks at the mountain and a tubing park, Mountain Top Adventure Center. This year Windham Mountain was voted one of Ski Magazine’s Top Ten Eastern Resorts for Access, On-Mountain Food and Family Programs.
Everything they do at Windham Mountain is with their guests’ enjoyment and convenience in mind. There’s a new triple chair lift and trail, just below the new 8,000 sq. ft. Adaptive Sports Center. They’ve moved the jib park too, and added more lights and music.
Windham Mountain has been named by Ski magazine as one of the best places to ski in the Northeast. Photograph courtesy of Windham Mountain.
Visit the new learning area just above the east wing of the lodge. This doubles the space available to beginners and for teaching.
Windham increased the size of their holding pond and added a new pump station so they can get more water into the air faster and make more snow for better grooming when the weather is right.
A new rapid rental system lets you fill out a form once and that’s it, you’re set. Speedy returns are part of the package.
New season passes this winter are College, Senior Anytime or Sunday, making season passes affordable for everyone.
Windham has added a new deli sandwich and soup station on the second floor. They have three Starbucks coffee bars and delicious food served in the 3rd floor Mountain Grill where there’s table service and a bar for those who want a more leisurely lunch. The Wheelhouse is a mid-mountain restaurant with quick, hearty fare that appeals to everyone or grab breakfast at the Mountain Adventure Park when that lodge is open.
A new learning area, trail and lift are located just outside the east wing of the lodge. The Children’s Learning Center provides day care and activities for non-skiers ages 2-7 including arts & crafts, music and storytelling. For young skiers, the Mini-Mogul program offers ski instruction and activities for ages 4-7. Older kids will love Mountain Masters with skiing and snowboarding instruction for ages 8-12.
Leave the cash and cards at home and use the Windham 1Card for lift tickets, food, lessons or gear anywhere on the mountain. Set up your account quickly and securely at WindhamMountain.com 48 hours in advance of your trip, then visit the Special Tickets desk to add your photo and finalize it. There’s no charge for this added convenience and you’ll get direct to lift access and special discounts throughout the season.
Windham Mountain has snow tubing, starting December 17 on Friday nights and weekends at the Mountain Top Adventure Center. Up to 12 lanes are open, with 3-lifts and a self-contained base lodge. Night skiing and riding on eight trails from 4 pm to 10 pm starts December 15.
At Windham Mountain, the 3500 Club means perks for an elite group of skiers who have comfort and convenience at their fingertips. From the moment they arrive at the mountain and receive discounted valet parking, members know they are in a league apart.
The heart of the 3500 Club’s amenities is the luxurious, season locker. It’s easy to store gear in the roomy lockers and the club’s private entrances and exits give members an extra measure of security and privacy. Other perks like wall-to-wall carpeting, private restrooms and changing rooms, boot driers and a coffee bar make it feel almost like home. Another very personal touch, concierge service, is available on weekends and holidays. For added convenience, an attendant at the handy Equipment Valet will check skis, boards and poles for as long as needed for a minimal fee.
If all that isn’t enough, now the 3500 Club has other great features, too. Members get free First Tracks (reservations necessary) on weekends and holidays and an invitation to the annual Homecoming Weekend Party. 3500 club members can also get four free runs on NASTAR and competition in three different categories—Fastest Family, Fastest Man and Fastest Woman (two best runs count). The lucky winners will get a complimentary dinner at Vines Bistro and have their names added to a plaque that will be on display in the club. On weekends and holidays members will receive $5 off valet parking until the lot is filled. Another option is parking in the first two rows of “A” lot, which will be held in reserve for club members only until 10 am or until these spaces are filled. 3500 Club members also have easy access to the Children’s Learning Center and tune-ups in the Mountain Sports Shop.
Finally, anyone who has looked down from the ski slopes, seen the panoramic views around them and wanted to capture that experience, can now bring it home. For the first time, art from the Mountain Top’s local artists will be on display at Windham Mountain on the third floor in the Mountain Grill, the Starbucks coffee bar and the Business Center. All the art shown will be for sale and can be purchased on site.