Avoid East Coast Crowds This MLK Weekend! Overlooked Ski Areas Of The East

A typical MLK weekend at many east coast ski resorts: 45 minute lift lines, $90 lift tickets, shuttle buses from lot 29B, and the joy of skiing with 10,000 of your closest friends.  Can’t wait, right?  There is a better way.  If you live in the Northeast and you don’t have $500 to burn on a flight out west (plus accommodations, rentals/demos, etc.), here are some tips on crowd management.  These often overlooked ski areas offer great skiing at reasonable prices with limited crowds.  They don’t have the fastest lifts, shiniest ski shops, most exaggerated trail maps or luxurious accommodations, but if you’re looking to make a few turns in a relaxed atmosphere, they get the job done and done well. 

Catskills, NY – Plattekill

Located a few miles west of the more popular Hunter Mountain, Plattekill is just an extra 20 minute drive when traveling north from NYC.  Don’t worry about the extra few minutes in the car. The driving time will be more than made up for on the slopes.  Plattekill offers great natural terrain and limited crowds.  A true “mom and pop” operation, owned and operated by a husband and wife, the mountain retains a small mountain feel while offering some of the best terrain in the area.  A full day adult holiday lift ticket is $58.

Southern, VT – Magic Mountain

Located just about equal distance between the more popular (and crowded) Stratton and Okemo resorts, Magic has always been a small ski area.  More recently, Magic has developed a certain cult-like following by a group of dedicated locals and out-of-staters (aka, “flatlanders”).  The mountain’s laid back vibe, 1,700’ vertical, steep terrain, open access glade policy, and limited crowds has attracted customers dissatisfied with the cookie cutter experience found at nearby resorts.  Magic had a minor setback over New Year’s weekend, when the Red Chair suffered a rare breakdown.  Management informed us that the Red Chair has been repaired, passed the Vermont State inspection and has been running great for the last two weekends.  We’re also told the Black Chair is on track to spin this weekend.  If running, the second chair should double uphill capacity, eliminating any chance at lift lines.  A full day adult holiday lift ticket is $59 ($49 if you have a season pass to any other resort).

Northern, VT – Middlebury Snow Bowl

Located about half way between Killington and Sugarbush, the Middlebury Snow Bowl offers an escape from the massive crowds at nearby resorts.  Perhaps its location off of route 125 (not route 100) makes it harder to find, and therefore it’s less crowded.  (Editor’s note: I literally can’t find someone who has ever waited on a line here).  Operated by the nearby liberal arts college of the same name, the hill is most well-known for its ski racing history. However, in recent years a group of locals has worked with management to open up the tree skiing, providing some excellent terrain to play with.  Combine good terrain, no lines, and a full day adult lift priced at $48, and you have a recipe for a great day.

Southern, ME – Mount Abram

Located in the shadow of nearby Sunday River, Mt. Abram may be one of the east coast’s most overlooked ski areas.  The mountain recently joined the Mountain Riders Alliance to become the organization’s first operational pilot project.  Winner of the Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence (small ski area category) Mt. Abram is trying to do it right.  Offering a laid back attitude, a boundary to boundary ski policy and full day adult pass priced at $49, Mt. Abram deserves a look.

Northern, ME – Saddleback 

Saddleback is the biggest mountain mentioned in this article.  The ski area packs a lot of punch for a $59 adult lift ticket.  With an elevation of 4,120’, a 2,000’ vertical drop, and 220 skiable acres, Saddleback is a large ski resort with a small ski mountain feel.  While Maine doesn’t really ever get crowded, most skiers head towards Sugarloaf, missing out on a great alternative.

New Hampshire – Black Mountain

It’s tough to find anyone saying something negative about Black Mountain.  The biggest concern I’ve heard is a fear of letting too many people know about it.  This Yelp review pretty much summed it up: “Black may not be quite as big as nearby Attitash or Wildcat, but what you lose in size, altitude, and attitude, you gain in 1) no lift lines, 2) solid conditions, 3) lots of terrain variety, and 4) family friendly yet still fun for the experts.”  With a $49 holiday lift ticket, what do you have to lose?


Authors Note:  I’m sure I missed a few other good alternatives.  If you’re willing to share a good one, feel free to comment below.  If you’re saving it for yourself , we understand that too.


  • BoGnar

    Nice ting about east coast riders:
    they actually know how to ride and folks from Jersey actually know how to tip. Time to get more east coasters out west.

      • BoGnar

        Do you have a problem with not getting cut off by gapers every other turn and making a lot of money every night?
        Yeah, these Cali gapers suck the life out of the mountain day and night. I just want some real skiers/ boarders and partiers out here at these amazing mountains. I am tired of the “family mountain” gaper vibe that has been growing here in Tahoe. But I digress.
        Ski NH! Gun Stock (fun stock), Ragged Mountain and for a real small home town hill check out Veterans Memorial Ski Area.

  • coyo

    saddle back is one of the few mountains i would trip back from tahoe to vist, casablanca glade on a foot of pow is a full day of fun, never mind the dope park they build :D

  • TBST

    Thanks for the shout out buddies!!!! It got warm and some snow melted, but we are going to fire up the snow-guns and get the hill in shape for the big holiday weekend here @ Mt Abram!!!!

  • NJ Refugee

    Good call putting Plattekill on here, even if some locals will hate you for it. I hit it for the first time on Friday, pretty solid mountian with some great terrain. I was a huge fan of the fact that not everything was “groomed to perfection”. It’s nice to find a place that far south that still likes natural terrain.

  • Gnarpow

    “The ski area packs a lot of punch for a $59 adult lift ticket. With an elevation of 4,120 ft”…… That says enough hahaha

    • Oliver Pootro

      I skiied the bowl yesterday and totally shralpped it. If you think the bowl is a joke then you should ski with a local and have them show you the bone chilling trees and secret cliffs that will make you want to release golden nectar in your pants. RIP THE BOWL!

      • mac

        wait for real? if so thanks dude ill check it out some day, i know some people from around there

      • Magicsnowboard

        I’ve heard good things about the bowl. A few of my buddies from Magic went up when Magic’s lift went down over xmas. They said they skied good trees all day in untouched powder. I’d like to know how it held up in the thaw, but I’m pretty interested in visiting.

  • Anonymous

    mac – the write up was for small crowds on the east coast.. middlebury snow bowl fits, actually both snow bowls do.. (camden, me)

  • CB Rollins

    I support Mount Snow in West Dover, VT- Ok, they get a crowd, but their 4 fast lifts and umpteen slow ones serve a gigantic area, plus the 300 some fan guns are cranking out snow as we speak (Tip- only 6 seat Leitner-0 Poma bubble lift in North America )

  • jenk

    I may have to kill you for putting Platty up. Only hill in the Catskills with 1k vertical and it’s got nice people. I mean, yeah, Squaw is a fine fine place (and I do have a season pass) but as I’m out here most of the time Plattekill is where I call home.

    • LB

      Awesome mention of platty, sure its a great secret but i’m willing to share. Well maybe not on a powder day when the lake effect rolls in and i’m knee deep.

      A Plattekill Patroller

  • h

    stay west puufer boys. takes no talent to throw yourself off the fingers on a powder day. funny how you all never travel east, cant handle the conditions, nor the technical skiing. hahahaha

  • Dave Frasen

    This is going to the worst MLK weekend of perhaps my entire lifetime. Limited terrain, bare spots, ice, and crowds.

  • Just Another East Coast Skier

    1. Magic love.
    2. From the areal pic, Saddleback looks awesome. Would love to ski it some day

  • Todd Kutkiewicz

    My parents live in the town of Roxbury, NY which is right near Plattekill Mt. This place doesn’t get a lot of credit but it has the longest top to bottom consistent steep pitch of all the Catskill ski areas and has awesome tree skiing and the best powder skiing after a good dump. Give it a try and if you are a serious skier you will like it.

  • Vagabond

    That’s the way Plattekill used to be, it has since been written about to the point crowds have started coming in droves. Stay away!

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