Stowe Ski Getaways
With a legacy as thick as maple syrup at a sugar-on-snow party, Stowe is as synonymous with skiing as any other icon you can mention. In fact, icons loom large in Stowe's history, from Perry Merrill and Charlie Lord and their CCC crews to trails like Nosedive, Liftline, National, Starr, and Goat, testing grounds for the best of several generations. Stowe has commanded attention from the beginning.
With a major expansion and upgrade underway Stowe is likely to attract even more attention in the next few years. Spruce Peak, Stowe's more mellow side, has already had two high-speed quads installed, plus a beginners' triple chair and trail (aptly named "Inspiration" for its view on Mt. Mansfield). An alpine village at the base of Spruce is in the works. A gondola to link Spruce Peak base with the Mansfield base, aptly named Over Easy, opened in December of 2006, and the new Stowe Mountain Lodge on Spruce is expected to open early in the 2007-08 season. Improvements are slated for the Mt Mansfield side too, including significant upgrades to services and a welcome expansion of the base lodge
What Stowe already has in spades is great terrain, whose hallmark trails are seldom interrupted by catwalks and crossovers. Classics such as Lord, North Slope, and Standard ski or ride long and vertical, as do the somewhat wider Perry Merrill and Gondolier. Almost 60 percent of Stowe's terrain is rated intermediate (although a good deal of it is tougher than you might be accustomed to) but advanced skiers and riders will have no complaints. There are the aforementioned famous Front Four plus Nosedive, Lookout and Lookout Glades, Hackett's Highway, Tres Amigos Glades, Hayride (now wider and F.I.S.-approved) and Centerline. Even better - because they're not on the trail map - are Stowe's smorgasbord of glades and tree shots that you will only find by diligence or the grace of a local. And up above the gondola's top station is some of the gnarliest hike-to terrain in the state.
Stowe's terrain naturally separates itself into several distinct areas, each with its own character. Lower Spruce Peak is home to gentle beginner terrain and is home to Stowe's famed Ski and Snowboard School. The upper part of Spruce provides mellow family cruising. Over at the Mansfield side, long, fast cruisers will be found under the gondola. The middle of the mountain is where you'll find the most difficult terrain. Move over to the triple if you're interested in a freestyle challenge, because that's where you'll find the two terrain parks and half pipe.
Despite a tougher-than-average mountain, Stowe attracts the well-to-do in greater numbers than the duct-taped locals who cherish the mountain's secrets. Perhaps that's because the "other" Stowe - the actual town - is just as famous as Stowe the mountain (Stowe Mountain Resort is its official name, Mt Mansfield and Spruce Peak are the mountains that are home to SMR's trails.) Simply saying "Stowe" evokes much the same response as saying Aspen or Steamboat. By the time you reach the Inn at the Mountain you've either segued gracefully to the mountain if you're headed up, or to the outliers of the town if headed down; the two are tied together by an extended community of inns, shops, homes, upscale resorts, and night spots, much of it connected by a public multi-use path. Nevertheless, each has a distinctive personality. Stowe the resort showcases Vermont's rugged beauty; Stowe the town shows off Vermont at its most quaint and charming.