Ski Resorts in Summer
Family time rules the summer here. Over at Killington’s sister mountain, Pico, you’ll see parents hugging their children as they swoop down the twin alpine slides, twisting and banking their way downward to the valley floor. At Killington’s “Adventure Center “a waterslide, skateboard park, and a mountain bike center provide a home base for families to disperse while staying together. At the base of Killington, the Killington Golf Course rivals Sugarloaf’s for sheer mountain beauty. When you play this 18 hole course you don’t know whether to hit the ball or just pause and look around. Perhaps take photos. With 20 golf courses within an hour of the resort, you can spend a week playing a different course each day. Many do just that.
The K 1 Express Gondola rises from Killington’s base to Killington Peak. Both the Gondola and the summit chair have been equipped to carry mountain bikes. From the summit the biker has what seems like an entire mountain universe to explore. Before heading off to what I some of the prime black bear habitat in Vermont have a bite in the Peak Restaurant where the sun streams through and from the windows you can see brightly helmeted mountain bikers beginning their descent.
The access road is still quiet in summer. A waitress at The Gristmill who is accustomed to overflowing crowds in winter called it “a ghost town.” Not quite, but in summer and fall when nearby destinations like Woodstock and Grafton fill up there is almost always room at the inn — and room at the top of Killington Peak.
Killington Resort, 4703 Killington Road, Killington, VT. 05751. 800-621-MTNS.
Sunday River Ski Resort, Newry, Maine
When you come to Sunday River, in the western mountains of Maine you get a bonus — the sweet town of Bethel only six miles away. Bethel is one of those towns that drew summer “rusticators” in the 1800s, who came for the healthy benefits of mountain air, then all but faded from public view until the resurgence of a obscure ski mountain called Sunday River. Under the prodding of ski mogul Les Otten, Sunday River expanded across eight mountains with 128 trails until it rivaled even Killington for skier visits.
Sunday River in 1990 became the first New England mountain to welcome mountain bikers on its chairlifts, and adventure bikers throughout the east flocked to its slopes where over 60 miles of trails waited their daring. Some riders ride from the top 10-15 times a day, until they stop exhausted and as exhilarated as if they had skied double black diamonds all day.
This summer they can relax on Sunday River’s own Robert Trent Jones, Jr. 18 hole course. Designed to take advantage of its Jordan Bowl setting with the Mahousac Range as a backdrop, Jones compared his latest creation to courses in the west. The two resorts, Sugarloaf and Sunday River, have competed for skiers for years, now it is obvious they will both tout the prettiest and most challenging golf course in the state. Golfers will love coming here because in the heart of Bethel is the venerable Bethel Inn and Country Club’s own famed 18 hole course.
But if you never swing a club, nor wish to fly down a mountain on a bike, Sunday River can still entice with its setting. A short drive away is Evans Notch, a mountain pass cut by the Wiuld and Cold Rivers that offers spectacular views around every bend. On the return you may stop at the Artists’ Covered Bridge in Newry, beneath where locals have bathed in the cool Sunday River for generations, long before the rest of discovered how refreshing ski country beneath blue skies and summer sun.
Sunday River Ski Resort, P.O.Box 450, Bethel, Maine 04217. 207-824-3000.