Just over two hours from Montreal, three hours from Boston and six hours from New York City, the resort of Stowe is often known as the ‘Ski Capital of the East’.This charming New England village resort boasts Vermont's highest peak, Mt Mansfield at 4395', 116 trails and 83% snow making coverage. And lifts that open at 7.30am for early birds catching the powder. Mountain sports ambassador and former pro skier, Kristi Brown Lovell, who lives in Stowe, shares her insider knowledge.
What's so special about Stowe?
Stowe is a four star, four season resort supported by an active community that is deeply rooted in tradition and history. Known as the 'Ski Capital of the East', Stowe’s legendary front four trails, Goat, Liftline, National and Starr, continue to draw and test most ability levels since being carved out in the mid 1900’s. However, it is Stowe’s perfectly rolled corduroy, state of the art snow making, high speed quads and its recent lodge renovations that keeps visitors returning.
Describe a typical day on the mountain.
Rising early as you summit at the top of the quad and the sun is streaming out over the Green Mountains out to the Whites with Mount Washington in the distance. You can ease your way by warming up on Lord or Sunset meandering your way to the bottom. If its snowing, set out for first tracks on Goat or go Hollywood style and showboat down Liftline for all the hoots and hollering!
Egg sandwich and coffee at 10 then back out over to the Gondi for primo groomers on Gondolier or swoop into the Riverbed for rolling fun. After several runs it's a late lunch up top at the Cliff, which boasts both culinary and vista treats. Looking for an epic end of day? Find a guide or local to take you down the Bruce and celebrate your fun with a beer at the Matterhorn and live music.
Every day, every season offers a new experience. Even as a local, I never tire of this place. Stowe Mountain Resort is my big playground and there is an endless amount of fun and activities that keeps you coming back for more.
Stowe's highest peak is dwarfed by European ones. Is there enough snow?
Between Mother Nature and Stowe Mountain Resort’s state of the art mega snow making machines, Stowe encountered the best winter conditions of most ski resorts in the US, last season, 2014-15. Between the continuous snowfall and cold temperatures, our snow conditions were incredible with endless pockets of fresh snow everywhere you skied. The grooming was amazing and the notorious east coast ice was at a minimum. Winter enthusiasts were changing their ski vacations from the west to come to Stowe because of the great conditions.
Stowe maximizes its elevation by offering three high speed quads and gondola that zip you to the top accessing 116 trails and over 485 acres. Early birds get the snow with first chair time at 7:30am and last at 4.00pm. That’s 8.5 hours of skiing bell to bell.
How often do you get out on the hill?
The mountains are my home and I am fortunate to have Stowe as my playground. I stop counting after 100 days. My heart, head and soul are happiest when I am in the mountains.
Guess you know it like the back of your hand? What is your favourite run/route?
My secret stashes? Shhh, I never ski and tell! ;) Ok maybe just a couple of favs. If you can brave the steep and deep, Lookout is my go to first tracks. From the top down, Lookout is always a challenge, demanding a change up of rhythm and coaxing a different ride every time I ski it. And there's the added bonus to pop into the woods for some glade skiing. For an afternoon adventure, ski down the Bruce Trail to the apres fav. The Matterhorn it is a must.
Super fav of a typical day for me is standing in line with a coffee for first chair and tracks at 7:30am, lapping my go to trails with 10 down by 10am and refueling with an arugula and caramelized onion egg sandwich at the Octagon. Just make sure you ski up your appetite before 10:30 when they stop serving breakfast.
The real secret stashes you will have to come to Stowe and ski with me to find out.
Is there good off piste or backcountry?
There is incredible off piste and backcountry in and around Stowe. Just make sure you go with someone in the know or hire a local guide. Off the Gondola, you can adventure into the woods from Chin Clip. There are numerous lines but you must know where you are going so as not to get stuck in the riverbed; there is a skate ski / walk out on the road back to the resort.
And where would you go for the best view?
Stowe Mountain Resort offers the best scenic views of any mountain in the Vermont and the East Coast. Start from the top of the Fourrunner Quad in the early am with the sunrise lighting up the Green Mountains (including views of Sugarbush and Killington) stretching all the way into the White Mountains and Mount Washington. Take the Gondola and hike up to the Chin for an incredible panoramic view that spans past Smugglers, over Lake Champlain into the Adirondacks.
Stowe attracts all abilities of skiers and riders because of its diverse terrain and accessibility. There is something for everyone from easy cruising to corduroy crunching, bump bashing, woods glading and powder stashing.
How would you dress to fit in with the Stowe ski/snowboard regulars?
I like to think anything goes on the hill as far as fashion – you see it all and I, personally, like switching it up, debuting some new colour and style. If you wish to blend in, black is always a very popular colour; conservative, slimming, chic (and good for ducking ropes ;) Shh! Stowe’s locals are passionate skiers and riders first in line at morning bell dressed in functional brands (Burton, North Face, Arcteryx, Spyder) that protect in all conditions. The last couple of years, we are seeing an influx of more colour and brands (Under Armour, Oakley, Colmar, Bogner, Armada) appearing on the hill and in our local ski shops. I like watching the styles of dress with correlation to style of ski and ride. If you can ski/ride IT, you can wear IT!
The Matterhorn hands down hosts years of legendary après fun, food and festivities. There are heel marks in the tables from dancing! Piecasso is another fav go to as they will always welcome you with a smile, great food and local beers. Several new bars to town that each offer a different appeal of cozy, sport and wine bar are The Roost, The Bench and Cork. And keep an eye out for the Alchemist, opening in 2016.
Tell us about a secret place? (Only STYLE ALTITUDE followers need know!).
There are so many gems around Stowe but one of my favourites in the winter is the Cabin in the woods at Trapp Family Lodge. You can ski or snowshoe up in the winter and warm up fireside with some chilli or tea and cake. I, also, like dodging the cold by lounging at Winterfell above Edgewise. Nestle into the comfort of a beautifully appointed winter sports boutique with an espresso, glass of vino or sip of Whistle Pig, while perusing the latest must have fashion trends and cool finds.
What is the best time to come to the resort?
The best time to come to Stowe is the day you arrive till you leave! You can try to plan around weather but winter is winter. Christmas and New Year is a beautiful and very festive time to experience Stowe. February and March typically boast good weather and snow.
Summer and Fall in Stowe definitely complicate the question 'which is the best season in Stowe?'. Fortunately, living here offers the luxury of enjoying Stowe’s playground everyday otherwise it would be difficult to choose. Just get here and enjoy the magic.
Is there anything else to do in the winter season in Stowe?
Stowe offers a full year recreational playground and gastronomic experience. In the winter. if you want a break from alpine skiing, you can enjoy Trapp Family Outdoor Touring Center’s state of the art groomed crosscountry and snowshoe trails or skate in our newly renovated Jackson Arena. You can test your winter cycling by renting a Fat Bike at Iride or let someone else do the work and experience the thrill of a dog sled ride, horse drawn sleigh or snowmobile tour through our vast trails. If the winter temperature is not inviting, consider treating yourself to an indulgent spa treatment at Stowe Mountain Lodge or Topnotch Resort. Don’t forget to fuel your belly and soul with some local home cuisine at some of my favs; Hour Glass, Roost, Doc Ponds, Bench, Edson Hill and Plate.
And so where do you go on holiday?
Holidays typically involve adventures and sports sprinkled into a cultural setting. Last summer, we went hiking and camping in Iceland. Next summer we are headed to Israel. Most likely, you can always find me in the mountains especially here at home in Stowe.