This season, 2021-22, Vermont Ski + Ride took a page from our sister publication, Vermont Sports, and sent out the Black Diamond Reader Survey. The survey asked readers to rate the best ski areas in Vermont in 14 categories, including Best Overall, Best to Avoid Crowds, Best Snowmaking/Grooming, Toughest Trail, Best Ski Bar, Best Ski Town and more. (Scroll down for links to all categories.)
Here’s what our readers said were the ski areas that have the:
BEST BACKCOUNTRY/SIDE COUNTRY
Vermont is blessed with some of the best backcountry glades and tree skiing in the East.
For true backcountry, Brandon Gap, the first sanctioned glades on National Forest land, was everyone’s top choice. That’s thanks to the easy access from the towns of Brandon or Rochester (off Route 73), the well-mapped and marked routes, and multiple options for descents. There’s even a hut nearby – Chittenden Brook Cabin – where you can spend the night. Bolton’s extensive backcountry (which can easily spit you out on the Stowe/Waterbury side of the Greens) was a close second and southern Vermont’s managed area, Dutch Hill was third.
When it came to “sidecountry” – meaning terrain you can access from a lift. Jay Peak took top honors with Bolton Valley close behind. Both ski areas are blessed with prodigious amounts of snow and vast areas just past the boundary lines where it is easy to get lost. Bolton offers guides and backcountry training, for those who want to explore, and two backcountry huts where you can spend the night. Close behind, Smuggler’s Notch and Stowe tied for third, just ahead of Mad River Glen.
1. Jay Peak 2. Bolton Valley Resort 3. Smuggler’s Notch, 3. Stowe, 4. Mad River Glen
Opening photo: Jay Peak’s backcountry. Courtesy photo.