Mad River Glen – Ski It If You Can

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At Mad River Glen, skiing is in its purest form. Natural snow, nostalgia, low skier density, challenging and varied terrain, unmarked woods that let you cut your own lines, no commercialism and environmental preservation all contribute to the unique experience. Owned by a cooperative of shareholders, Mad River Glen’s philosophy is to protect and enhance the experience rather than to change it and to foster a sense of community among those who ski its legendary terrain. To further maintain the area’s unique character, shareholders choose not to allow snowboarders.

deepsnowWhen you ski Mad River Glen, it’s all about the terrain with a prevalence of glades and mogul runs to choose from. One of the unique qualities of the mountain is that many of the glades are unmarked. This allows the skier to find his/her own path adding to the adventure and excitement of the experience. All of the woods in between the single chair and Fox Trail are prime for skiing with the terrain becoming steeper and gnarlier to skier’s left. Three Falls is the most challenging of the group and is reserved for those who are a little crazy in the head and enjoy cliff jumping between narrow platforms. For those interested in backcountry adventures, the 20th hole can be found from a narrow, unmarked entrance off of Upper Antelope. Follow the traverse a short distance and you will find access to challenging narrow chutes and glades. This is often a great place to find untracked powder days after a storm. On a weekday, it is important not to ski too far to skier’s right. Otherwise, you will miss the catwalk back to Lower Antelope and will need to hike back along Route 17. On weekends, Mad River Glen runs buses to carry explorers back to the base of the mountain if you go too far. If that is not enough to quench your backcountry appetite, the mountain directly opposite the single chair (on the other side of Rt. 17) is all skiable terrain and locals hike in from several spots along the road. As part of a plan to protect this great glade skiing for future generations, the mountain sets aside “regeneration zones” of young trees and brush that will eventually replace older trees when they reach the end of their life. (Photographed in The Mad River Valley by Mike Riddell)

For those looking for moguls, your choices are abundant. Among Ski Enthusiast’s favorites include Lower Antelope, Slalom Hill, and Gazelle. Chute and Lift Line are also incredible runs that give you the opportunity to show off in front of a highly vocal audience on the single chair. Fall Line and Paradise are also legendary for their steep and varied terrain. For intermediate skiers beginning to explore moguls, Upper Quacky and Periwinkle are excellent choices. Upper Antelope is also a windy groomed intermediate trail off the single chair for added variety. Novice skiers can also enjoy Mad River Glen with skiing from lifts 2 and 3 while taking advantage of the low skier density on the mountain. It is also important to note that there are free mountain tours provided on weekends and holidays at 10 AM. You can sign up at the ticket office.

threefallsConditions at Mad River Glen are completely dependent on the weather as there is only limited snowmaking capability on higher traffic, lower mountain trails. However, with 250 inches of natural snowfall a year and low skier density, conditions are superb even days after a storm. The mountain is also well protected from the wind enhancing the snow quality.

Part of the unique experience the mountain has to offer is its nostalgia. There are no high-speed quads and little slope side development (only small homes scattered along the landscape). The mountain also boasts one of only two single chair lifts in North America. However, it does hold the title for the longest and fastest (in North America) and will get you to the summit in approximately 12 minutes. By limiting uphill capacity, Mad River Glen is able to maintain low skier density. As a compromise for this great quality, skiers may encounter a bit of a line on Saturdays and busy holidays. The base lodge also preserves this classic feel with 70’s styling and only necessary modern enhancements. One convenience worth noting is a free internet booth to check the weather, your e-mail or a score from a game the night before.

Overall, Ski Enthusiast’s trip at Mad River Glen was excellent and it is highly recommended that you explore the mountain’s unique experience. (Photographed in The Mad River Valley by Mike Riddell)