Top skiing day trips from Long Island
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If 10 hours is more than you care to spend in a car - even if it is to eastern North America's perennial top resort, Mont Tremblant in Quebec - not to worry. There are plenty of places to hit the slopes sliding much closer to home, and we don't mean Vermont or New Hampshire.
Generally, you won't be defying double-black diamonds or crushing multi-mile cruisers, but you will be saving lots of time, gas money and usually the cost of overnight accommodations. Best of all, you can go at the drop of a hat - or several inches of fresh powder - even after work.
What you'll save
Fair warning: You won't save much on lift tickets or on-mountain food, as resorts that cater to metro New York-area skiers tend to charge metro New York-area prices.
When to go
These resorts tend to attract metro New York-area crowds, especially on weekends and holidays. Even though they rely heavily on extensive snowmaking systems, a little warm weather can wreak major havoc. Be sure to call ahead or visit their Web sites to check snow conditions and how many lifts and/or trails are open before piling into the family minivan.
About the resorts
All resorts listed here offer equipment rentals (skis and boards), lessons and - with the exception of Hunter and Belleayre - night skiing, though not necessarily on all trails. Only the most expensive one-day lift ticket price is listed, so you'll likely pay less.
How to choose
Driving to mountains within a 100-mile radius of Long Island will get you to some halfway-decent-size resorts. Advanced skiers may still get bored, but everyone else, especially kids, should find ample action to keep them happy.
If you're willing to drive 150 miles, you can reach both the Poconos and the Catskills, legitimate mountains with legitimate expert terrain whose higher base elevations also make for more dependable snowmaking.
While each can be done in a single (long) day, you can double your pleasure and investment by overnighting at either on-site accommodations or in nearby resort communities.
IF YOU WANT ...
... to stay within 50 miles
Campgaw Mountain , Mahwah, N.J., 201-327-7800, skicampgaw.com
MAX LIFT TICKET $34
There's only one resort this close. But with only five trails, 18 acres and 270 feet vertical, Campgaw favors first-timers and other beginners, or those desperate for a quick (in more ways than one) downhill fix.
... an upscale resort
Mountain Creek , Vernon, N.J., 973-827-2000, mountaincreek.com
MAX LIFT TICKET $62
The pick of the litter in terms of Northeast U.S. resorts within 100 miles of Long Island, Mountain Creek (170 acres, 1,040 vertical feet, 45 trails, 11 lifts, tubing) is a true resort - complete with deluxe slopeside lodging - owned and operated by Intrawest, the same people behind Mont Tremblant in Canada. Boarders have their own 60-acre peak, the largest terrain park in the East.
... to take the family
Thunder Ridge , Patterson, N.Y., 845-878-4100, thunderridgeski.com
MAX LIFT TICKET $50
With 100 acres of 500 vertical feet, 30 trails and six lifts, Thunder Ridge is a long-standing, family-oriented operation about 100 miles from Long Island.
Rescued from bankruptcy last season, Hidden Valley in Vernon, N.J. (973-764-4200, hiddenvalleynj.com ) is anachronistically low-key and heavily family-oriented (36 acres, 620 vertical feet, 15 trails, five lifts, $49 max lift ticket).
... to feel like you went farther away
Mohawk Mountain , Cornwall, Conn., 800-895-5222, mohawkmtn.com
MAX LIFT TICKET $50
Located in Connecticut's scenic Berkshires, 60-year-old Mohawk (107 acres, 650 vertical feet, 24 trails, four lifts) makes you feel like you are much farther north. A good overnight option, thanks to stay-and-ski offers at nearby inns and hotels.
... to pay less than $40 for your lift ticket
Tuxedo Ridge , Tuxedo Park, N.Y., 845-351-1122, skituxedoridge.com
MAX LIFT TICKET $39
Formerly known as Sterling Forest, this modest-size resort has 35 acres with 400 feet vertical, seven trails, four lifts and tubing.
Almost twice as large, Mount Peter in Warwick, N.Y., offers free lessons for first-time skiers and snowboarders ages 5 and older (845-986-4940, mtpeter.com ). You'll pay no more than $39 (70 acres, 400 vertical feet, 11 trails, four lifts).
... to avoid the crowds
Belleayre Mountain , Highmount, N.Y., 845-254-5600, belleayre.com
MAX LIFT TICKET $54
Owned and operated by the state, Belleayre (171 acres, 1,404 vertical feet, 39 trails, 11 lifts) is the smallest of the Catskill resorts, but typically offers the best value, the most casual atmosphere and the least maddening crowds.
... to make a weekend of it
Camelback , Tannersville, Pa., 570-629-1661, skicamelback.com
MAX LIFT TICKET $53
With more than 50 percent beginner slopes and on-site condos, Camelback (160 acres, 800 vertical feet, 33 trails, 15 lifts, tubing) is a good choice for families with young or new skiers.
ALSO TRY Boasting the highest vertical in Pennsylvania, three terrain parks and a multimillion-dollar face-lift last year, Blue Mountain (155 acres, 1,082 vertical feet, 53 trails, nine lifts, tubing) is the best bet in the Poconos for more competent boarders and skiers (610-826-7700, skibluemt.com, $59 max lift ticket).
... a classic (and popular) ski spot
Hunter Mountain , Hunter, N.Y., 800-486-8376, huntermtn.com
MAX LIFT TICKET $63
For 50 years now, Hunter (240 acres, 1,600 vertical feet, 55 trails, 11 lifts, tubing) has long been New York City's resort of choice. And for good reasons: separate beginners' and experts' mountains, and since 2005, the luxurious Kaatskill Mountain Club lodge in addition to slopeside condos.
Windham Mountain (800-754-9463, windhammountain.com ) is the Catskills' "second resort," with 265 acres, 1,600 vertical feet, 46 trails, 10 lifts and tubing $65 maximum lift ticket). $10 million worth of improvements have been made over the past three years. Slopeside condos and the Winwood Lodge allow for convenient overnight stays.