Learning to ski or snowboard at an early age is the perfect way to help young children instill a love for winter. Exploring the slopes helps kids build self-confidence, meet new friends and develop a lifelong affinity for the outdoors.
Pico Mountain is a ski area with heart. Just a few miles from Killington Resort, Pico offers family-friendly trails, convenient mountain access, and a low-key atmosphere. With 57 trails and a vertical drop of nearly 2,000 feet, Pico manages to give visitors both big mountain terrain and a small mountain feel.
I spent a February weekend at Pico with my family and enjoyed so much about the mountain. Here are six reasons why I think you’ll love skiing at Pico, too.
A Laid Back Vibe
Sometimes just getting from the parking lot to the lifts can be stressful, especially with kids and gear in tow. Not at Pico. With parking that’s remarkably close to the base area, families can easily walk from their cars to an uncrowded base lodge before hitting the slopes. With short lift lines and uncrowded trails, Pico’s unhurried pace makes families feel right at home.
Terrain for All Levels
First-time skiers and snowboarders at Pico can take advantage of their own chairlift and rope tow, which serves two trails at the Bonanza Learning area. More seasoned skiers and riders can opt for the blue square 49er or Fool’s Gold, or challenging black diamond trails like Summit Glades, Upper KA, and Sunset 71 straight from the summit. There’s also plenty of greens in between (my 5-year-old’s favorite trail was Gold Rush off the Golden Express lift).
A Notable History
To fully appreciate Pico, it helps to know about the mountain’s past. On Thanksgiving Day in 1937, Pico was born when Brad and Janet Mead opened a rope tow at the mountain. Their daughter, Andrea Mead Lawrence, won two gold medals in the 1952 Oslo Olympics at age 19. The elder Meads are buried off Sunset Schuss, one of the ski area’s original trails, and a building at the base of the mountain is named after Andrea. The Mead racing tradition continues at Pico, where on any given day you’ll see kids from around Vermont competing at the mountain.
Lodging Within Walking Distance
Condos at Pico with one, two or three bedroom options are within walking distance to the base lodge and lifts. Open December to March, the condos offer full kitchens, spacious living rooms with fireplaces and pull out sofas, a washer and dryer, deck, as well as plenty of closet space. Condo guests receive full access to the nearby Pico Sports Center, which includes a 75-foot indoor pool, fitness classes, cardio and weight equipment, and a sauna.
Après Ski at The Inn at Long Trail
Just up the road from Pico Mountain is The Inn at Long Trail, an old school, après ski favorite. The historic ski lodge, which opened in 1938, is home to McGrath’s Irish Pub. Sip a Guinness while the kids eat nachos and enjoy live Irish music on Fridays and Saturdays. While you’re there, don’t miss the giant boulder inside the inn (yes, a boulder). When the inn was under construction in the 1930s, the owners decided to build around a giant rock, which is said to be more than a billion years old. Half of the boulder is located in the inn’s dining room, and the other half is in the pub. No doubt, my Irish ancestors would be proud. (709 Route 4, Sherburne Pass, Killington; 802-775-7181; www.innatlongtrail.com)
A few miles from Pico is The Foundry at Summit Pond in Killington, which serves lunch and dinner. The restaurant feels both upscale and casual, catering to ski families from Pico and Killington. Menu options range from stuffed meatballs and steak tartar to salmon burgers and pan-seared duck. Kids will enjoy choosing from pasta, grilled chicken, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, and flatbread. Crayons and paper are never in short supply, so kids can keep busy while mom and dad sit back, reconnect, and enjoy a cocktail. (63 Summit Path, Killington; 802-422-5335; www.foundrykillington.com)