Jay Peak Ski Resort – Jay, VT

Jay Peak Ski Area – Adult Day Pass $82, Adult Season Pass $700-$1000

IMG_3899
Looking at the summit at Jay Peak, VT

“If you’ve been to Jay Peak, you know our reputation is deserved—the most snow in eastern North America and a liberal in-bounds policy that ensures you can enjoy it. 78 trails, slopes and glades wait for you but the nooks and crannies are what really set Jay Peak apart. If you haven’t been here, come experience the reality behind the legend. From the far-out corners of the backcountry, to the close-at-hand convenience of The Zone learning area, there’s a little something for everyone at our larger than life mountain. Poke around and make some moments of your own.” – Jaypeakresort.com

Tucked away amongst the northern green mountains in the “Northeast Kingdom” in Vermont is Jay Peak and the town of Jay.  Named for John Jay, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the town of Jay sits next to many large mountains, including Jay Peak and Big Jay, both of which served as markers for Native American travelers as they passed through the area.

Snow Quality – Great – Jay Peak is unique here.  While many places on the east coast would love to have even 100 or 200 inches of fresh snow a year, Jay Peak is consistently higher than all other eastern ski areas, and can even compete with western resorts in some years (500 inches, 2016-2017 season…#2 in U.S. Snowfall, 2014-2015 season).  The locals call the spontaneous snow dumps the “Jay Cloud”, which can sometimes see Jay bring in a foot or two of snow, when other Vermont ski areas only receive a few inches.

Crowds – Good – Because of Jay Peak’s proximity to Burlington in Vermont (about 1 hour 30 min) and Montreal in Quebec, Canada (about 2 hours), there can get to be a fair number of people on the mountain.  However, there is a very large indoor water park on site to help mitigate the crowds, the trails are separated in such a way so it is easy to stay away from where the most people are, and the lifts are good.

Lift Infrastructure – Good – Jay Peak has 9 lifts including 1 tram and 4 quads.  These five lifts service the majority of the terrain that brings people to Jay Peak.  The other 4 lifts (1 triple, 2 doubles, 1 surface) all service beginner/low intermediate terrain.  The way the lifts are laid out is like a progressive sections.  You can start on the lower lifts with all of the beginner terrain, then move to the middle section for intermediate runs, and finally to the summit section for advanced/expert terrain.  This is a nice set up for some, but it also limits many from seeing parts of the mountain, because they may not be good enough yet to make it off the summit or off the middle section and they may not have an easier trail option.

Trail Variety – Good – 20% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 40% Advanced This is tough, because there is some variety here, but it’s mostly between intermediate and advanced/expert terrain.  There is also a decent beginner area, with some easy runs to start on and some solid progression runs as you start to get on the chairlifts, but the real reason you go to Jay is deep snow and advanced terrain, both in-bounds and backcountry.

Trail Quality – Great – This is big here.  Jay enjoys a multitude of different trail conditions, but overall they are usually in good shape.  The mountain crew does a great job getting trails open, making snow, grooming and keeping things ride-able.  Also, the large average snowfall means there are usually considerably more powder days here than anywhere else on the East Coast.  All that said, there is still some serious wind once you get over the ridge near the top of the mountain. When I was there, a Canadian local on the chair warned me about the wind, but I had no idea how serious he was.  That section of the mountain was so icy and windblown that I may have had a better time if I was on ice skates.  Now, while I was told that when the wind was kicking, the ice was the norm, most of the mountain that day was still soft and very much ride-able.

Terrain Parks – Average – They did have a park section, but it did not seem all that impressive. There are 2 terrain parks (excl. Riglet Park) and they are certainly passable, everything is groomed fine and there is a decent mix of features, but there isn’t anything that crazy or progressive and it could be groomed a little better and all that.  But you don’t go to Jay for the park, head south in VT for some of that.

Family Friendly – Great – This is a little bit of a “catch-22”.  So it is a great place for families because everything you need is there at the resort.  They have 16 different food/drink options, and 5 retail shops, including the “Provisions” General Store.  They also have a daycare, a spa, an ice arena, and of course, the “Pump House” indoor waterpark.  However, there is not much around the resort, unless you want to drive an hour or two.  Also, the beginner area and the teaching programs are very good, but, you can only use 3 chairlifts and a surface lift, and you can only ride 20% of the mountain. But, if you are a true beginner and you now you’ll be limited to that terrain ahead of time, they do offer a beginner-terrain-only lift ticket at a discounted price. So again, it isn’t the absolute best place for families but it is a pretty great place for families, especially if you have young children.

Cost – Good – Not the cheapest trip you’ll ever take, but by no means the most expensive trip you’ll take.  There are plenty of much more expensive resorts in the East Cast alone, but Jay definitely will start to build costs quickly if you’re not careful.

Nightlife – Average – There are a few bars on the mountain and they’re definitely nice but there isn’t anything special happening.  You would have to drive an hour and a half to Burlington.

Things to do – Good – There’s a lot to do on the mountain and if you’re there for serious skiing then there is also some backcountry terrain that you can venture to, but there isn’t a ton to do off mountain, other than snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cultural activities. Again, if you want to drive an hour or two, there is A LOT more going on.

 

* A friendly Canadian Jay Peak Local told me that on a clear day, you can see Montreal from the top of the mountain…..I’m not sure I believe him though haha*

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bear Creek Mountain Resort – Macungie, PA

Bear Creek Ski Area – Adult Weekend $63 (Adult Season – $445, but $380 before Oct. 31)

NightShotClose_4422_11x8-39-500-500-80-c

Originally called the Rittenhouse Gap Mine, Bear Creek Ski Area used to be an iron mine in the 1800’s.  After the mine closed, Doe Mountain Ski Area was opened in 1967 with just a t-bar, a rope tow and two trails.  In 1999, ownership of the resort changed hands and it became Bear Creek Mountain Resort.  It is located in Macungie, PA.

Snow Quality – Average – The snow at Bear Creek is often hit or miss.  Occasionally, there are larger storms that will blanket the area, but the slopes can and do get icy at night.  However, the resort is very good with snowmaking and can cover 100% of the mountain if needed.

Crowds – Good to Excellent – If you are a college student and can go during the day during the week you will be blessed with riding only interrupted by the chairlift taking you back up the hill (Excellent).  On the other hand, high school kids can make their way out to this mountain after school, due to its close vicinity to a few cities and large towns, and these times usually see a rise in guests (Great).  On weekends, the crowds often swell and on holidays it can get pretty crazy (Good).

Lift Infrastructure – Great – The mountain isn’t very big so the lifts they have are very nice to use.  They have 4 chairlifts and a carpet lift at Bear Creek.  Three of their lifts are quads and they are very efficient at getting people up the hill.  However, often times they do not run the one chair, which can be annoying because it would be the chair that services the park but all the park kids then have to go to the next lift.

Trail Variety – 7 Beginner, 7 Intermediate, 4 Advanced, 3 Terrain Parks – One of their black diamond trails always has moguls on it, snowboarders stay away.  Also, their terrain parks go according to ability from about 3 or 4 very small features to a full park of medium features, to a full park of large features.

Trail Quality – Good – Given the amount of snow that they receive each year, they do a great job of working with that natural snow as well as making new snow and covering all of the trails.  Some do get icy and they are best to watch out for, and as it gets darker, a lot of the trails ice up quickly.  Also, one of their black diamond trails “Sasquatch” has a 50 degree slope which, although quick, challenges local skiers who try to navigate down.

Terrain Parks – Great – The terrain parks here are small but nice.  They always have a ton of small to medium sized jumps spread around, as well as many different features such as rails and boxes and bonks.  Last season, they even set up a little halfpipe type feature in the spring.

Family Friendly – Excellent – Very family friendly resort.  Excellent instructors, great food, easy rental process, pool, hot tub, game room, and a ton of different food options. Also they have a Burton Riglet Park to help really young children discover snowboarding!

Cost – Good – The day passes can be expensive for the size of the mountain but if you’re local, getting a season pass is an ideal move because it’s cheap enough that it pays for itself in like 4 or 5 trips.  Also, the hotel is very nice, and its not going to be cheap to stay at peak times in the winter.  However, if you are local you can find lift ticket deals at ski shops nearby, such as Buckmans in Reading, PA.

Nightlife – Poor – No village at the resort and you have to drive a ways to get to any real cities, so you’re probably not going out if you’re here.

Things to do Average – Much more to do in the summer than winter around Bear Creek.  Mountain Biking, Disc Golf, Golf, Theme Parks, and more.  Really only skiing, snowboarding, and tubing during the winter.  Also pretty close to many different universities such as Abright, Alvernia, and Lehigh.

Resort Ratings System

Hey Everyone!  So before I got started with the resort reviews, I wanted to lay out the system that I will be using for the reviews.  This will show you the categories I will be looking at and what I will be looking for in each category.  It also explains how the ratings will be made.  Check it out:

Snow Quality – This takes into account both the amount of snow, as well as the quality of the snow itself, how fluffy and light or how heavy and wet it may be.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Crowds – This will look at how crowded the lines may get, if there are a lot of backups and lines or if it’s hot laps all day.  This will also look at how quickly new snow is wipe off the mountain.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Lift Infrastructure – This will analyze the amount of lifts, as well as the quality of the lifts as a whole.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Trail Variety – This will count the number of trails for each ability level, for example: 12 green, 15 blue, 10 black.  There may be a small explanation following the stats.

Trail Quality – This will look at how well the trails are kept, how well the snow holds on the trails or how icy they get.  This will also take into account the terrain park, though the terrain park will be rated more thoroughly later.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Terrain Parks – This will check out the resorts’ terrain parks and look at how much feature variety is present, along with how well each feature is crafted and how well the snow is kept.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Family Friendly – This will focus on the amenities the resort has for children and families such as daycare facilities, pools, and ski school facilities and programs, as well as how many beginner trails the resort has.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Cost – This will analyze the prices of day passes at the resort and the price of lodging at the resort.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Nightlife – This will look at what types of après ski options are available to guests at the resort.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Things to do – This will take a peek at the other adventures you can embark on from the resort, mostly focused on winter activities.  These activities could include cat-skiing, heli-skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hiking, ice skating, etc.  Some summer activities will be considered such as mountain biking, hiking, fishing, etc.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

So that’s how I’ll be doing these resort reviews.  I plan on posting a similar chart for the snowboard, bindings, and boot reviews as well.  Have a great day everyone! Hope you’re all stoked on the site and continue to follow us!

CWALT