Winter is quickly approaching here in the Berkshires, and some may say it has already arrived. With nightly temperatures dropping well below freezing, it won’t be long before the lifts are turning and skiers and snowboarders make their first fluffy turns down the trails and glades at Berkshire East, Jiminy Peak, Bousquet, and Catamount (as of writing this, Jiminy has started blowing snow). Combined, these ski areas offer 156 trails, 27 lifts and more than 500 acres of skiing and riding. Not only do the Berkshires offer big mountain experiences at affordable prices, but our ski areas in western Massachusetts provide destination skiing opportunities that are among the closest to New York City – just over two and a half hours from Times Square! And what will you find at some of the closest skiing to NYC? Four unique ski areas with stories all their own.
In the northeastern corner of the Berkshires lies the outdoor sports mecca, Charlemont, Massachusetts. Known for its world-class whitewater, fly-fishing, mountain biking and adventure tours in the summer, the steep frontside trails of Berkshire East loom over the village year round and provide the backbone as Charlemont transforms into a skier’s ski town in the winter. Last season, Berkshire East added a new quad lift to their uphill transportation offerings, making it easier and more comfortable to get to Thunder Mountain’s summit. Whether you’re looking for the challenge of fast and steep trails and technical grades, or relaxing long cruisers and a variety of beginner terrain, Berkshire East delivers everything a skier could ask for. Visit berkshireeast.com for more information.
The Berkshires’ most developed winter resort, Jiminy offers a big mountain resort experience, in a quaint, New England setting. The base area, while offering everything you need (including a chocolate/coffee shop) never feels sprawling or overwhelming, and while it lies between the day-use parking lot and the lifts, the walk from your car to snow is often shorter than many ski areas that lack a base village. And while skiers and snowboarders from all over find soothing comfort in the resort’s hotel and time-share options, the come to Jiminy to ride. From the base area, the Berkshires’ only high-speed six-pack lift whisks you away to 1150 vertical feet of big mountain skiing and riding. With meticulously groomed gentle cruisers for beginners and intermediates rolling off both shoulders of the mountain, and experts can find some of the longest sustained steeps anywhere in the east on trails like Jericho and Whitetail. And those willing to explore a little more will find Jiminy’s best kept secret in the terrain off of Widow Whites Peak. Whether you visit for the weekend or commit to with a season pass, you’ll be endlessly entertained by Jiminy’s big mountain experience. For more information visit jiminypeak.com.
On the edge of the Berkshires’ biggest city, Pittsfield, Bousquet gives locals and visitors a classic New England skiing experience at an extremely affordable rate. With an illustrious history (first lighted ski trails, snowmaking innovations, and visits by the Kennedys) and deals like the Sunday Saver – a full-day, all-ages lift ticket for $30 every non-holiday Sunday — Bousquet is often cited as one of the roots of skiing in the Berkshires and the US. On any day or night, you’ll find packs of kids roaming every trail in classes, race programs, school programs and free skiing. But Bousquet’s side of Yokun Ridge offers more than kid-friendly terrain – natural snow trails like Louise’s Folly and Icicles provide expert-favorite skiing when Mother Nature delivers the fluffy goods. Visit bousquets.com for more information.
With the Berkshire’s steepest, bumpiest trail (Catapult), top to bottom cruisers and the closest big mountain skiing to New York City, Catamount provides something for every skier and rider, whether you choose to stay the weekend, or make it an easy day trip. From the summit, you look down at 1000 vertical feet of every type of terrain, most of which is attentively groomed for both day and night skiing, giving skiers and riders perfect carving surfaces no matter when they decide to explore Catamount’s slopes. Pop into the cozy lodge for a warm up, with snacks, hot cocoa or a drink from the bar, and then head over to the Meadows triple for gentle cruising terrain that hides the mountain’s best snow. Beginners will love the options at Meadows too (there’s nothing worse than being constrained to a single trail when you’re learning and just want to explore) while even the best skiers will find a pit in their stomach at the top of Catapult. With truly something for every skier and rider, Catamount is not to be missed this winter. Visit catamountski.com for more information.
Follow your compass to the Berkshires this winter for big skiing, close to home (really close to home if you decide that becoming a Berkshire resident is right for you, just one more reason life called so many of us to the Berkshires). No matter which ski area you choose in our quaint, New England region, you’ll find a new and unique experience that only winter in the Berkshires can deliver. Now wax those skis and hit the slopes – winter is here!