Spring skiing in “the Bush” – Sugarbush, VT

Clay Brook at Sugarbush Valley Ski ResortSince the 1960s, when Stein Eriksen closed each week’s skiing at Sugarbush by doing an elegant somersault off the mountain at this resort, “the Bush” has remained an intimate, family-oriented destination.

Those were the days!

The equivalent of a tank of gas would buy a week’s pass to all the lifts. Called Mascara Mountain and derided by ski purists, it was THE place to see the latest celebs and their glamorous styles: purple parkas, skin-fitting silver ski pants bedecked with rhinestone studs.  For the more-grounded visiters, Sugarbush offered a buffet of slopes from lift line shushing, or meandering intermediate trails, to twists and turns through a white birch stand called The Sleeper. I loved this trail! It began with a waltz. Glide through the trees, then subtly, your quads and the trail would both tighten. Before you knew it, the challenges popped out at every turn; time for a Tango. You swoop; take a deep dip; quick turn; then Voilá! You’ve reached the open slopes, Victorious.

But today is today, and where does Sugarbush place now in the scheme of eastern skiing? Pretty darned high. What was good then is great now. The years have seen management changes with the addition of so many super-chairs that lift-lines are history. Snow making machinery is the latest; trail manicuring is king.

Fresh Powder by EmbroSpring Break is on the horizon. Grab your family and head for the hills. There is excitement for all from babies at the nursery school to grandma and pa, sitting in the sun sipping Espresso while passing judgment on the hotshots swooping down the trails; a people-watchers feast. If that isn’t enough incentive, here is why skiing at “the Bush” is so special: you will have access to “Six distinct peaks of unleashed potential. Two uncrowded mountain areas. And 2,000 acres of backcountry in the Slide Brook Basin. It’s no surprise Sugarbush recently ranked #1 in Terrain Variety by SKI magazine and the area was named “Best Ski Town in the East” by Outside Magazine.”

Lodging Choices

Sugarbush Village is the activity center for the Lincoln Peak Base area. The premier lodging there is Clay Brook Residences, consisting of 63 condo/apartments slopeside. This property has all the amenities one would expect at such a top-rated resort, including the Timbers Restaurant, providing fine dining morning, noon and night. Other attractions include lounges with fireplaces, bar and pub, outdoor heated pool and spa, game rooms, convention facilities and more.

The Sugarbush Inn is located along the access road as you approach from Warren, VT. During the ’60s and ’70s this was the main lodging choice. Condos on the mountain were just beginning to appear, so this was THE place to be. They still welcome families, serve excellent meals, and have enough game areas separate from the cozy bars where parents can relax knowing their kinder are safely occupied.

Bride and groom - Just Married on Sugarbust chairlift

Credit: Sugarbush Valley Resort

Resort Condos are available for rent. These are privately-owned units within the Sugarbush Resort property. They range in size from studio to four-bedroom tastefully decorated homes.

Tevere Hostel, situated between Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, might be a good bet for budget-minded or single skiers.. Modeled after International Youth Hostels, this lodging was started by two Americans who adopted the format after spending a few years in Rome. Reservations are by the bed, with the exception of two 4-person private rooms with baths.

The main Sugarbush website lists many other inns and hotels in the surrounding towns.

Beyond Skiing

Soaring: Vermont’s Mad River Valley provides some of the best soaring territory in the United States. Flights can be arranged through the Warren Airport. A spin with one of their professional pilots makes a great gift. I know. I gave my husband one for his birthday – he talked about his beautiful blond pilot for years! I forget her name.

Golf: Robert Trent Jones’ use of Sugarbush’s hills and glens as a pallet for this beautiful course has made it as challenging as you want it to be. Go for the glory shot and cut the corner over trees and river, or play it safely, shot by precise shot following the fairways. Any way, the views are glorious and the air is clear. Rental equipment and golf school are available.

Tennis: The Health and Racquet Club provides rental equipment and/or lessons, plus a full-gym experience.

Mountain Tours – get to know the mountain, plus rides on the Zip Line – photos and descriptions.

Summer Camps – for adults and kids wanting to perfect their athletic skills.

Plus all the shopping, dining, and other activities you would expect in a top notch resort…it’s in the valley!

Heated pool and hot tubs at Clay Brook Residences, Sugarbush, VT

Photo credit: Sugarbush Valley Resort

Added features

Buy a piece of Clay Brook Residences and enjoy the benefits. “Turn-key ownership in this premier ski-in/ski-out property will offer you four seasons to stay and play as well as amenities unparalleled: Private owners’ lounge, Concierge, underground and valet parking, valet ski and boot warming services, year-round outdoor heated pool and hot tubs, slope-side restaurant, golf club privileges, plus a Health and Racquet Club membership.”

The Green Mountain Valley School If you or your children are serious about pursuing their skiing to the international competition level, take a look at this college preparatory school in Warren. With students from all over the world, and graduates who have gone on to top colleges such as nearby Middlebury, it has great possibilities. I know nothing about its credentials, but if my offspring were still that age, I would certainly consider it.

Getting There Google Maps:  As you can see, there is no direct East/West road from I-89. VT-100 must be accessed from the North or South quite a distance away. If from the South, be sure to stop in Rochester for a super soup-and-sandwich lunch at the café right on Route 100, before going through the breathtaking Granville Gap.

Sugarbush Valley Resort

Clay Brook Residences



Tevere Hostel

Green Mountain Valley School

Other articles by Gail Hunter: Florida coast by coast series; Part I