Resort Guide 2013-2014: East Coast

Chris Carr Waterville Valley New Hampshire Photo Mike Azevedo
Chris Carr. Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. Photo: Mike Azevedo.

Resort Guide 2013-2014: East Coast

Words: John Poulin

Snowboarding on the East Coast usually boils down to one common denominator: adapting. When the park is good, you take park laps. When there's fresh snow, you ride the trees. If the whole mountain is boilerplate, you just make something work. You learn to work with what you have. The notion that the East Coast is flat, cold, and icy cannot be entirely refuted, but when the mountains of Old Country USA open up and give you the goods, there are few better zones to board. The Slides at Whiteface, New York; Jay Peak, Vermont's Face Chutes; ride these on a good day and you'll be a believer.

Most mountains get a couple rounds of smaller park builds going before the big ones are built, but by Christmas you can expect the major East Coast parks to be up and running. As always, it's up to you to follow the weather and see what's actually happening in the mountains. Sugarloaf, Stowe, or Jay Peak will be your best friend the week of a storm, but you could be bummed if you hit either one of them during a dry, cold front when the mountain turns to ice. For East Coast pow hunting, count on waiting until at least February, when the anticipated January thaw has passed and the snow cycles start to kick in again. The same goes for the parks.

Snowboarding on the East Coast is about heart. Watch a Yawgoons edit. Picture kids shoveling ice rink snow into the back of a truck to set up a rail in August. See an event like Rails To Riches at Killington, where a win puts you on the Eastern map; gatherings like Back To The Boneyard at Waterville Valley, celebrating heritage; Mount Snow's newly formed Carinthia Open debuting as the US Open moved Out West last season. Or just have an interaction at any one of the dozens of small time hills throughout the states. Riding is a part of everyday life in these communities and it shows in their commitment to what we do.

Check out the next page for our top 3 freeriding resorts on the East Coast…

Ryan Flynn. 2013 Sugarloaf Banked Slalom, Sugarloaf, Maine. Photo: Ethan Austin.

Top 3 Freeriding Resorts on the East Coast

Stowe, Vermont

Rummage through the outerwear of any Burton or Rome employee and you'll find a common item: a Stowe season pass. That's because Stowe has the best tree runs, backcountry access, and side hits on the East Coast, with lake effect snow coming off Lake Champlain and stacking up on Mount Mansfield.

Standout terrain: Rock Gardens, The Chin, The Bench

Don’t Miss: Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Cabot Cheese Outlet, Stowe Dogs, Piecasso

Average Annual Snowfall: 333 inches

Poll East Coast Terrain Variety Rank: 7

Sugarloaf, Maine

The Loaf takes some effort to get to, but if you hit it with good snow you have the most rippable acreage and the only above treeline boarding east of the Rockies, plus a swath of side hits, tree lines, and drops with the continuing glade expansion into Brackett Basin.

Standout terrain: The Snowfields and Brackett Basin

Don’t Miss: Banked Slalom in March, Reggae Fest in April, D'Ellies, The Bag, The Rack

Snowiest month of the year: March

Poll East Coast Terrain Variety Rank: 2

 

Jay Peak, Vermont

Jay gets the most snow on the East Coast, and they have some sick tree riding and backcountry zones when those storms hit. Jay is so far north that it's practically in Quebec, and you're bound to hear some French being spoken in the liftline.

Standout terrain: Face Chutes, Big Jay

Don’t Miss: Indoor amusement park, people watching (you're basically in Quebec without crossing the border)

Poll East Coast Terrain Variety Rank: 1

Top 3 Parks on the East Coast

Last Call presented by Eastern Boarder at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire

Loon

While many East Coast parks excel in one area of expertise, Loon keeps up the three tiers of park building: pipe, jumps, and rails, with the top-to-bottom park run off the gondola, pocket parks, and secret hits scattered around the mountain.

Standout Terrain: Loon Mountain Park (LMP) laps from the Gondola, Shaper's Shack Hubba, Wallride

Don't Miss: Eastern Boarder Presents Last Call in March

Poll East Coast Park Rank: 5

 

Sugarbush

Sugarbush proves that it's not about what you have, but what you can do with it. Their jib-focused park is a creative use of a small space, with re-directs, closeouts, elbows, and wall hits set up with cross-court flow. Insert skatepark reference here.

Standout Terrain: The most creative rail setup in New England, rails are never sticky—even in extreme cold

Don’t Miss: Guided catboarding tours, the fun

Poll East Coast Park Rank: 9

 

Seven Springs

The Streets, a Superpipe, and meticulous upkeep of all their features have Seven Springs on the top of many East Coast riders bucket lists, especially with the new US Open Qualifiers happening there. Riding replicas of real street features you've seen in videos is pretty damn cool.

Standout Terrain: The Streets, 22-foot Superpipe

Don’t Miss: Indoor skeet shooting range and bowling in the lodge, Burton US Open Qualifier

Reader's Poll Ranking: 2

 

Check out the next page for a few of our insider tips…

Value

Saddleback, Maine

Tucked away in the Rangeley Lakes region, Saddleback gives you some top-notch East Coast tree riding with the Casablanca glades, a fun, mellow park, and day tickets that top out at 60 dollars during holiday weekends. Two and a half hours from Portland, Maine.

 

Pass Deals

Waterville Valley Poma Pass ($140) 

This might be the best pass deal in the East. Waterville Valley’s park is pretty insane, and they host a bunch of sick events like the TransAm and Back To The Boneyard. If all you want to do is take park laps, you can get a pass for the Poma Lift only that’ll get you high enough to hit the majority of Exhibition Park and over to the halfpipe. It’s the park rat special.

Boyne New England Pass

You get Sunday River's early season park setup (often by Halloween, weather permitting), Loon's dialed park setup (and a reason to go to Last Call), and the ace up your sleeve of a Sugarloaf pow mission (or a reason to go to Reggae Fest), all on one pass, plus discounted tickets at Brighton, Utah; Big Sky, Montana; Crystal Mountain, and Summit at Snoqualmie, Washington. ($1,055, Adult Gold Pass)

 

White Mountain Super Pass

The buzzard's delight: Steeps at Cannon, park laps at Waterville and Cranmore, and cruisers at Mount Washington's Bretton Woods, all on one pass. All of these resorts are less than two and a half hours from Boston and less than an hour from one another. ($1,000, Adult)

A Tale Of Two College Towns

There's a lot of fun to be had in Burlington, Vermont, and Plymouth, New Hampshire, college towns in prime shred locales. With Burlington you get Stowe's trees and Sugarbush's park, or with Plymouth you get the Loon and Waterville Valley parks. Both towns party.

 

Drink Beer

The East Coast has a lot of quality offerings. Here's a list:

Geary's Hampshire Special Ale "HSA" (Maine)

Long Trail Double Bag (Vermont)

Harpoon IPA (Vermont)

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale (New Hampshire)

 

Burton Riglet Parks

Visit burton.com for full listings

Vermont

Stowe, Stratton

New Hampshire

Loon, Waterville Valley

New York

Gore, Whiteface

Maine

Shawnee Peak

 

Highest Average Snowfall (Ten-Year Average)

Jay Peak: 360"

Stowe: 330"

Sugarloaf: 200"