There are no shortage of excellent ski areas in Northern Vermont. Large resorts like Stowe, Sugarbush, and Jay Peak get the bulk of the attention. Just down the road, Bolton Valley offers a wholesome, family-friendly, mountain experience that is rare in 2018.
Bolton Valley is located approximately 25 miles east of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. It is approximately 23 miles northwest of Montpelier. Bolton’s night skiing operation, paired with its proximity to these cities, make it attractive for after-school programs and the post-work crowd. This hill boasts Vermont’s highest base lodge at 2,200 feet. The elevation paired with impressive snow totals and excellent backcountry access make Bolton a truly unique hill.
Vermont is a huge destination for skiers in New England. At any given Vermont ski area, the chairlifts are filled with discussions about hometowns in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. Many residents of the Green Mountain state simply do not have the opportunity to be introduced to the sport of skiing. Since its inception, Bolton has encouraged locals to get out on the snow and enjoy themselves. This noble mission is the very core focus of the Unofficial Networks Ski Hill Shoutout.
Bolton has always took measures to give local families every opportunity to learn how to ski. In the early days of Bolton Valley, founder Ralph DesLauriers approached local school districts. If the schools could get the kids to the mountain, Bolton offered any interested child lessons and lift tickets for $10 for the entire season. DesLauriers estimates that Bolton Valley has taught 27,000 local kids to ski.
Bolton Valley has 71 trails across three peaks. From the main base area, take the Vista Quad to the summit. During the whole lift ride you will see an impressive 121-foot wind turbine perched at the top of the hill. This turbine produces approximately 300,000 kilowatt hours of power per year. After unloading, expert skiers will enjoy the Vista Glades or the tree lines on either side of Preacher. Newer skiers can make plenty of turns and enjoy the view as they cruise down Sherman’s Pass and Cobrass.
To lookers left you will find the Wilderness double chair where you can find some quiet cruiser runs. Turnpike is a great option for those seeking a removed and secluded feel while the Outlaw Woods offer a stellar pitch for more aggressive skiers.
To lookers right, and slightly down the access road from the main base area is Timberline Peak. This peak is accessed by a quad and features some excellent tree skiing. Adam’s Solitude and Lost Boyz are long and sustained steep tree lines. Showtime and Twice As Nice give you the opportunity to open it up and lay some trenches on groomers.
One special attribute of Bolton Valley is its abundant backcountry access. The mountain offers guided tours, high-end equipment rentals, and clinics/instruction. Son of the founder, and highly accomplished skier, Adam DesLauriers is one of the instructors. The expansive terrain is accessed directly from the resort.
The lion’s share of Bolton Valley’s premiere backcountry terrain lies on the leeward faces of its highest ridges, providing a northeast-facing snow-accumulating zone that sits 2000 feet above the Champlain Valley floor and keeps snow shaded, light, and fluffy throughout the winter season. The accessible terrain ranges from mellow stands of old-growth white and yellow birch and maple trees to steep wooded glades to narrow little couloirs and cliff zones that challenge even the most advanced skiers and riders. – Bolton Valley
Skiers have been making turns near Bolton Valley since the 1920s. Edward Bryant of Massachusetts purchased 10,000 acres and began cutting ski lines. in 1922. He formed the Bolton Mountain Club and began inviting skiers from around New England to sample the trails at his prized mountain. Skiing at Bolton gained popularity and various ski clubs would come rip around the trails. World War II put the project on hold and Bryant died shortly thereafter.
“In the 1960s, the state of Vermont began to construct Interstate 89 to connect Burlington with the state capital in Montpelier. When the state forced local farmer Roland DesLauriers to abandon his land to make room for the freeway, DesLauriers literally sold the family farm and used the money to purchase 8,000 acres in Bolton for approximately $45 per acre”. – Burlington Free Press
In 1965, Ralph DesLauriers and his father Ronald began laying the plans for Bolton Valley ski resort. Ralph was in the National Guard at this time and he “borrowed” a military helicopter, flew and flew it to Bolton to scope the terrain. He applied for a loan to get the project off the ground and the bank agreed to provide a loan if the state could build an access road to the property. Everything lined up and Bolton Valley opened in December 1966 with nine trails and three lifts. In the 1960s, Bolton offered $10 full day tickets and $8 half day tickets.
The first major expansion took place in the 1969-1970 season. The Vista Peak double was added to access more advanced terrain. This project was intended to draw more experienced skiers to the hill. The Timberline area was built in 1987 which added the most advanced terrain at the mountain.
Tough times hit in 1994-1995 and Bolton filed for bankruptcy as the resorted owed $3 million. The resort was bought and sold multiple times in the decades that followed. Former Waterville Valley general manager Bob Fries bought the resort in 2002. Burlington businessmen Doug Nedde and Larry Williams joined the ownership group in 2004 and added some land. Williams and Nedde bought out Fries in 2007 and owned the resort until Ralph Deslauriers purchased it back in 2017.
- Average Annual Snowfall: 312″
- Vertical Drop: 1704′
- Skiable Acres: 300
- Trail Count: 71
- Lifts: 6
- Snowmaking: Yes
- Rentals: Yes
- Night Skiing: Yes, 90 acres
- Adult Ticket Price: $64 full day, $54 half day, $25 night
About the Ski Hill Shoutout
Few skiers are lucky enough to fall in love with skiing at monstrous resorts like Park City and Whistler. Instead, many skiers learn the sport at modest, family-owned, local ski hills. While these hills may lack high speed quads and a bit of vert, they offer an excellent atmosphere and make skiing accessible to families. 2018 is a difficult time for small ski areas and many local mountains are being forced to shut down. At Unofficial Networks, we recognize the enormous importance of these local ski hills. Our Ski Hill Shoutout feature is a way to give some attention to these grassroots, core, ski areas and hopefully send some traffic their way.