Belleayre Ski Getaways

ski getaways

Located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains amid the Catskill Forest Preserve Belleayre certainly appeals to those who like their mountains to feel like, well, mountains.

This is important to Belleayre's fans, many of whom make the drive up from the not-so-wild environs of New York City, about 2.5 hours away. Indeed, the views from Belleayre are more akin to those one might see from a mountain in Vermont and go a long way towards dispelling the notion that southern New York is entirely settled.

It took two bills passed by the state legislature, an amendment to the state's constitution, and a general election ballot vote to launch Belleayre as a ski center. But skiers had already been making the pilgrimage to the 3429' mountain since the 1930s, attracted by the snow that Belleayre itself attracted.

The top of the mountain is relatively flat and long - a long ridge, in fact - from which trails drop in three distinct tiers. The first drop is steep, and here you'll find all of Belleayre's black and double black terrain. (Don't worry; Roaring Brook, the Ridge Trail, and Deer Run, all intermediate, avoid the steeps. But there's no beginner terrain from the summit.) After this initial drop, trails turn blue and stay that way all the way down to Overlook Lodge, which may seem to be the base of the mountain but isn't (more on this in a bit). The exception is Cathedral Brook, a steep natural snow trail that remains challenging until it makes a final left turn to the lodge. The "Belleayre Beast,"a converted snow cat, ferries passengers back and forth across the ridge as necessary.

Intermediate and advanced skiers and riders should get back on the lifts at Overlook Lodge, but beginners will find that their world waits below it. Here are all their green circle trails, completely separated from the tougher terrain above. Belleayre's 1404'of vertical are split by the Overlook Lodge (888'above, 516' below), so beginners get to enjoy some nice long runs - in effect, their own mountain.

As befits a mountain with three levels, there are three "base" lodges. At the summit you'll find the Sunset Lodge, the Overlook Lodge commands the middle, and the largest lodge, Discovery, is at the actual base. Parking may be found at the real base and at mid-mountain. A high speed quad replaced the old Super Chief lift in 2006 giving guests at Belleayre a faster trip to the summit. A fixed-grip quad, a triple, two doubles, and three surface lifts round out the uphill transport options. And despite a reputation as a snow-catcher, 96% of the slopes are covered by snowmaking.

A half pipe and terrain park are available to play on, and nine kilometers of cross-country trails begin just below Discovery Lodge.