Snowcapades: Winter Sports
By New England standards, this winter is looking positively mild-mannered — all the more reason to get out and enjoy it! Thanks to the magic of modern snowmaking machines, skiers and snowboarders can find fresh powder at any one of six resorts in Berkshire and Litchfield counties, each of which offers affordable prices and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. After the flurries have fallen, sporty types can tour serene, snow-covered countryside by strapping on cross-country skis or float off on a moonlit snowshoe hike. And for a quintessential seasonal workout, take a spin on outdoor skating rinks in Lenox, Becket, and Pittsfield. Whether or not you can land a triple axel, the crisp air and swoosh of skates hitting the ice will make you feel like a perfect 10. — Sarah Todd
Skiing and Snowboarding
Butternut Ski Resort
Butternut Ski Resort in Great Barrington prides itself on its family-friendly atmosphere and state-of-the-art snowmaking. On weekends, visitors from New York and Connecticut flock to 110-acres’ worth of trails, which range from gentle slopes to the Twisted Terrain Park, with rock jibs and rails that appeal to adrenaline junkies seeking big air. With more than 300 instructors, Butternut has lessons for skiers and boarders at every level of experience.
For an eco-friendly approach to hitting the slopes, head to Jiminy Peak in Hancock, MA — the first U.S. resort to harness wind power to supply its own energy. With 45 trails, including the 2-mile long Left Bank run, Jiminy Peak offers diverse options that are sure to satisfy everyone from newbies to black diamond chasers.
Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall, CT is the ideal resort for skiers and boarders looking for a peaceful place to sharpen their skills. Founded in 1948, the resort is Connecticut’s first snow sports center. Women seeking out a new way to mingle will love the weekly Fab Friday for Ladies, an outdoorsy alternative to book clubs and knitting groups. Members take skiing lessons and coast down the mountain in the morning, then gather afterward for a lady’s lunch.
For a trip back in time, check out Otis Ridge in Otis, MA, which prides itself on serving up “skiing the way it used to be.” Regulars in the cozy lodge warm themselves by a wood-burning stove, while the swift-moving lines and short but rousing runs lend a day at the slopes unique intimacy. The prices are retro, too: A weekend lift ticket costs $30, and rented skis, boots, and poles can be yours for $25.
The oldest ski area in the Berkshires is Bousquet Ski Area (right) in Pittsfield, founded in 1932. The small mountain has a 750-vertical-foot drop; parents who shy away from skiing but still want to give the young’uns a dose of fresh air can take the whole family tubing. Bargain deals abound at Bousquet. Best of all is the $25 Sunday Saver pass, which lets ski bums hop up and down the lift from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Come winter, Catamount Ski Area transforms from an aerial adventure park packed with forest-skimming zip lines to a charming ski resort. Crowds praise Catamount for its varied trails and picture-perfect views of the Berkshires from on high. After a good day’s run, warm up with an après-ski meal of wienerschnitzel at the Swiss Hutte Lodge, located right on the property.
Catamount Ski Area
3290 Massachusetts Rt. 23, Hillsdale, NY 12529
Open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.- 4 p.m, weekends 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., evenings 3-9 p.m. Wednesday and 3-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For rates, click here.
Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Ice Skating
For an adventure off the beaten path, don’t miss Hilltop Orchards’ moonlit snowshoe treks on January 26 and February 23. For $10, a guide will lead journeyers across snowy drifts while recounting lunar mythology. Sans snow, the trek morphs into a hike. Either way, ramblers warm up afterwards with a bonfire, wine tasting, and live music. If you’d rather explore the terrain by daylight, take to the cross-country trails for $15.
At an elevation of 1,700 feet, Canterbury Farm in Becket, MA often has a soft layer of snow while lower locations stay green. Cross-country skiers can explore 22 miles of trails and admire views of Mount Greylock; snowshoers get their own private routes. For an ice skating experience straight out of a storybook, take a lesson with master-rated champion figure skater Linda Bacon, then try out a toe loop atop Farm Pond.
Cranwell Resort in Lenox is a well-known luxury spa, but locals may not know that $16 can buy all-day access to more than six miles of trails and an outdoor skating rink. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will feel plenty luxe sliding by Cranwell’s towering Tudor-style mansion, while skaters can enjoy scenic views of the hills.
This winter, Pittsfield firefighters volunteered to reinstate a beloved tradition and create an ice skating rink at First Street Common. At last word, the rink was under construction, but its debut will be sure to supply a new generation of skaters with unforgettable winter memories, right in the heart of downtown.
A number of parks in Berkshire, Dutchess, Columbia, and Litchfield counties offer cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. Among them are James Baird State Park in Pleasant Valley, NY; Lake Taghkanic State Park in Gallatin, NY; and the tranquil Topsmead State Forest, former summer estate of Edith Chase, in Litchfield. Guided snowshoe treks at Bartholomew’s Cobble are another popular choice, as is moonlit snowshowing at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox. —Sarah Todd
1986 Fred Snow Road, Becket, MA 01223
For details, click here.
55 Lee Road, Lenox, MA 01240
For details, click here.
Rt. 295 / 508 Canaan Rd, Richmond, MA 01254
For details, click here.
First Street Common
First Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201
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