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: TOUGHEST TRAILs
If you wonder why Mad River Glen turns out so many great freeskiers, look no further than Paradise. The ultimate test of East Coast skiing, it’s a trail where the bumps can get big, the trees are tight and the openings between them narrower than what you might find in a typical backcountry “glade.”
For years, Paradise was a local’s secret – duck off the top of the Single chair, and traverse out through trees. Though it’s been on the trail map since 2004 it remains in its natural state with plenty of ledge to drop, icy falls, and a 38-degree pitch in places. But after a snowfall, this run earns its name. The trees hold the snow and the pitch is just right for plowing through knee-deep powder and finding soft landings.
Runner up is Stowe’s Front Four classic, Goat. Upper Goat is narrow to start with. Add in a side angle, tight krummholz on either side of the trail, rocky ledges to a skier’s right and ice flows that form just where you want to turn, and it becomes a one-at-a-time descent. You just have to keep turning in the fall line and there’s no place to bail.
While Killington’s Devil’s Fiddle also earned votes and fits into the category of more technically challenging terrain, Outer Limits got the next number of votes. Big, broad and oh-so-bumpy, Outer Limits drops 1,002 feet in vertical over 1,892 feet giving it a 29-degree grade. It’s not the steepest, or the gnarliest of trails but if you can ski Outer Limits top to bottom, we salute you.
Rumble at Sugarbush – another long, fun bumper— and the more technical steeps of Madonna Mountain’s Upper Liftline at Smuggler’s Notch also ranked high in this list.
1. Paradise, Mad River Glen, 2. Goat, Stowe 3. Outer Limits, Killington, 4. Rumble, Sugarbush 5. Madonna Lift Line, Smuggler’s Notch
Opening photo: Paradise at Mad River Glen, by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur