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.
A few things you should know about Mount Snow:
- It’s the closest Vermont ski resort to all major metro areas to the south, which means less time in the car and more time on vacation.
- The Tubing Hill is faster than it looks.
- The mountain is small enough to be manageable, but large enough to have a nice diversity of terrain.
- The deli in the Grand Summit serves a mean cup of coffee called “Fogbuster.”
- Carinthia is awesome.
The boys and I headed down to Mount Snow on a Friday afternoon for a weekend of skiing and riding. Coming from Stowe, it took us longer to get to the mountain that it would have if we’d come from Boston. Mount Snow is right on the border of Vermont and Massachusetts, making it the most easily assessable ski area from most metropolitan areas in the Northeast. While this is great news for families who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the car, I was worried that it would mean crazy crowds over the weekend. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while busy, the mountain didn’t feel hectic. The lift lines moved quickly and efficiently. We never had any problem finding a table in the lodge. We discovered nice stashes of powder in the woods. Every staff person, from the front desk to the ski check, had time to smile and ask us about our day on the slopes. Overall, the mountain had a friendly, unpretentious vibe that made for a really fun family ski weekend.
On the mountain
The key thing to know about Mount Snow is that the terrain is separated into four distinct areas: Carinthia (terrain parks), Sunbrook (intermediate terrain), the Main Face (beginner and intermediate terrain), and the North Face (black and double black diamond trails). The different areas are separated by skill and interest, which keeps everyone happy. Beginner and intermediate skiers will feel comfortable on the Main Face, without worrying about faster expert skiers racing by, while big air junkies have Carinthia all to themselves. And, while the areas are distinct, it’s really easy to move around between them, so it’s no big deal to head back to the main lodge mid-day for lunch. The folks at the resort have spent a lot of time and money figuring out how to move people efficiently around the mountain, and it works really well.
My kids were chomping at the bit to get over to Carinthia to check out the parks, which was ultimately where we spent most of our time. To start the day, however, we took a few nice runs on the Main Face and a ride up the Bluebird Express, featuring the much touted “bubble,” a plexiglass shield you pull down over your upper body on the chair. Genius! The warmth of a gondola without the hassle of taking off your skis. By 9 a.m., the line at the Bluebird Express was starting to get pretty long, but the Grand Summit Express just next door was virtually empty. Both lifts go to summit and are pretty equal in speed, so if it’s a nice, warm day you can skip the lines and get in more skiing on the Grand Summit Express.
Carinthia is an absolute must-do if your kids are at all interested in terrain parks. Even beginners can have a blast at the Grommet Park, with small features and it’s own little chairlift. Our kids probably did 15-20 laps on the Grommet Park throughout the weekend. We all loved Prospector, a trail with all-natural features made of wood, and nice little runs through the trees. Most of the parks have medium and large features, which are generally too big for my kids, but they managed to find a few fun jumps here and there, and we were all impressed watching the more accomplished skiers and riders flying around the hill. The boys even took a few runs through the Superpipe, while yours truly found a nice route around.
Grand Summit Resort
We stayed in a one-bedroom suite at the Grand Summit Resort right at the base of the hill. The suite had ample room for our family of four, with both a murphy bed and pull-out couch in the living area, and a large master bedroom. The suites are outfitted with nice little kitchenettes, so we brought a few essentials (cereal, cheese and crackers, granola bars, tea, and fruit) to have on hand for the weekend. However, we found the deli in the hotel well stocked and affordable. Breakfasts included freshly-made egg sandwiches, omelets, yogurt parfaits, and excellent coffee. Made-to-order sandwiches at lunchtime came with homemade side salads, and the kids had no problem at all finding a few treats. I loved seeing a lot of local Vermont products around too.
The Grand Summit offers a lot of the amenities we enjoy when traveling with kids including room service, an outdoor pool, a killer tubing hill, and a game room. The Tubing Hill was a lot of fun, and has it’s own covered magic carpet to bring kids and sleds back up. One word of caution: it looks pretty mellow from the top, but the sleds get cooking! Another good option for families is the Snow Lake Lodge at the base of the mountain. It’s more affordable than the Grand Summit, but still has easy access to the ski hill.
We hadn’t planned to check out the resort’s Nature Spa, but after a long week and a long drive, the “Rockin’ Massage” caught my husbands attention. His 50-minute hot stone massage was accompanied by booming classic rock music. He opted for Bob Marley, but Pink Floyd and the Beatles were also on the menu. He returned Friday night a new man, ready to take on a weekend with the kids. Later in our stay, we also jumped into a relaxing evening yoga class while the kids watched a movie back up in the room (the front desk has over 100 movies you can borrow for free). It was the culmination of a number of little unexpected amenities and offerings, including a pre-dinner magic show Saturday night, that sealed the deal for us at the Grand Summit.
We squeezed a lot into our weekend, but two things that I’d put on my list for next time are the snowmobile tour and a snowshoe up to the summit. We toyed with the idea of booking a snowmobile tour, but decided we’d rather spend our time checking out the mountain this time. As soon as we got into Dover, we wondered if we’d made the wrong call. The snowmobile tracks were everywhere and the kids were practically climbing out of their seats to check out the trails. I also thought the guided snowshoe trek up to the summit would be a fun experience, but the kids nipped that idea right in the bud. The Nature Spa offers the snowshoe followed up by a massage, which sounds pretty heavenly in my book. Guess we have at least a few good reasons to return!