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Skiing

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Wealth of Winter Activity at Vermont’s Grafton Inn

The same deluge of snow that hit Boston this winter, now topping 100 inches thanks to Tuesday night’s dusting, has also arrived at Vermont’s doorstep. Grafton Inn, one of my favorite properties in the state, recently reported that they received over 4 feet of snow in the past 3 weeks. Down the road, the Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center is offering 5 kilometers of groomed trails; Wine & Cheese Snowshoe Hikes on Saturday afternoons; dogsled rides on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; tubing on their 600-foot hill; and the use of 2 fat bikes for hitting the trails. On property, the Phelps Barn features live music every Saturday night. 
 
Never been to Grafton? Amble along Main Street past the Country Store, where I once spotted a sign posted outside asking if anyone’s seen a missing horse, and you swear you just stepped into a Currier and Ives painting. To the right is the red brick town hall, circa 1816, now home to the post office. Further up the road, past the white clapboard houses spewing smoke from their chimneys is the requisite white steeple. Across the street is the Old Tavern, opened in 1801, and once the stagecoach stop on the ride from Boston to Montreal. Ulysses S. Grant spent a night here while campaigning for his presidency and Rudyard Kipling liked the locale so much he honeymooned at the hotel in 1892. For more information on Grafton, see the story I wrote for Preservation Magazine
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/26/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Time to Ski New England

With six feet of snow on the ground in Boston, you can only imagine what the skiing’s like in nearby New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. In fact, a friend in Vermont just told me yesterday that this is the best snow he’s seen in 20 years. New Hampshire and Maine are also reporting exceptional skiing conditions. So if you have no plans yet for February school break, head to the mountains. Temps are expected to plummet this Friday and Saturday, so you might want to visit Okemo and ride on their new heated 6-passenger bubble chairlift. Or visit Jay Peak, where you can take several runs before bringing the kids indoors to their vast water park. If you need inspiration, here’s “Why I Ski the East.” 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/11/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Time to Visit Weston Ski Track

Hmm, what to do if you live in the Boston area and have just been pounded with up to 3 feet of snow? Head to the Weston Ski Track! They were closed during the blizzard on Tuesday, but reopened yesterday with 15 kilometers of meticulously groomed trails. Ski rentals are available. Located on the banks of the Charles River, they also have snowshoe trails. Spend an hour or two here and you’ll no doubt feel invigorated from the workout and winter scenery. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/29/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas and New Year’s Day Savings on Lift Tickets with Liftopia

I know where I’ll be this Christmas Day, skiing with my family on the slopes of Sunday River in Maine. It’s one of my favorite days of the year to ski, because there’s far less people on the trails and no lift lines. New Year’s Day is also universally slow, especially in those early morning hours. Hard to do First Tracks when you’re staying up 2 am the night before. Liftopia is doing their part to get people on the slopes Christmas and New Year’s Day by offering up to a 72% discount off lift tickets. A lift ticket at Jay Peak is only $42, a 42% savings. Bolton Valley, just down the road from Burlington is only $20, a 59% discount. Out West, Oregon’s Mount Hood is $50, 34% off. Check it out before you hit your favorite ski area. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/17/14 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Favorite Ski Trails in New England

New England skiing has never been better. Snowmaking technology has almost eliminated the infamous northeastern patch of ice; high-speed quads take you to the peaks in record time; synthetic fibers like capilene, polypro, and polar fleece keep you as warm on the trails as you will be later reclining in a hot tub; and new skis make carving that perfect turn a cinch. Depending on your level of experience, you have a number of runs to choose from. Check out some of my top picks in my latest blog for Liftopia

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/16/14 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Great Early Ski Conditions in Vermont

Those hoping to hit the New England slopes this Christmas and New Year’s will be happy to know that the region already has a great base thanks to recent winter storms. We skied Okemo this weekend and the conditions were the best we’ve ever experienced in mid-December. 105 of the 121 trails were open, groomed hard packed powder. No icy patches! The cross-country skiing was also excellent, especially on the Deer Run trail, where the snowed-over pines formed a tunnel next a running river. Other highlights include trying the new high-speed, six-pack bubble chairlift with heated seats, the first of its kind in North America, taking an exhilarating run on the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, and tasting those fresh baked waffles dipped in chocolate. Yummy! 

 
(Photo by Robyn Isberg)
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/15/14 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Take the Ski Bus from Quebec City to Le Massif

When I last skied Le Massif and penned a story on the mountain for The Boston Globe, I took a train from Montmorency Falls, just outside Quebec City. I learned last night at a Quebec press event in Boston that the train no longer runs in winter. However, you can still take the Ski Bus, which picks you up at your hotel in Quebec City and drops you off at Mont-Saint-Anne and Le Massif. Skiing down the trails of Le Massif, overlooking the expanse of the St. Lawrence Seaway, you feel like you’re going to plunge straight into the water. Le Massif also offers guests the rare chance to go rodeling or luging down a 7.5-kilometer trail on the northern face of the mountain. The exhilarating two-hour trip starts with a snowcat ride to the top of the trail, where you’re handed a small sled. Then you start cruising downhill, curving around banks, and sweeping over hills, all with that same glorious view of the St. Lawrence. It’s a blast! 

 
If you love Paris in the springtime, then you’ll adore Quebec City in the wintertime, where, for 17 days, the party never stops. Quebec City’s Winter Carnival is the largest in the world, attracting more than one million people. The 60th anniversary takes place from January 30 to February 15, 2015. Sled down an ice chute, view the impressive ice castle, made from 1600 blocks of ice, eat maple syrup on snow, and see some of the major events like Le Grande Virée, a dogsled race that cruises through the heart of the historic Old City. Combined with the skiing at Le Massif, it’s the ideal to experience of the joie de vivre of this French-speaking city. 
 
I’m off to see my son’s jazz band perform at his college, then spending Thanksgiving week with family. I’ll be back on December 1st.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/21/14 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Spend New Year’s Eve at a Maine Hut

Make this New Year’s Eve memorable by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing to one of the four huts in the Maine Huts & Trails system, indulging in a four-course meal, and then waking up the next morning to a spectacular vista of mountains and lakes. Not a bad way to start 2015. Choose the Flagstaff Hut and you’ll be rewarded with views of Flagstaff Lake and the Bigelow range. Stratton Brook Hut offers stunning alpine views of Sugarloaf Mountain and is a great spot to catch the Sugarloaf fireworks at 9pm. Dinner consists of soup, salad, main course, dessert, and a variety of sides prepared by each hut staff with locally sourced organic ingredients. Beer and wine will be available for purchase. The package rate of $108/adult, $54/youth (17 and under) for MH&T members, and $120/adult, $60/youth for non-members include one night of lodging in a heated bunkroom, four-course dinner with a champagne toast, a full hot breakfast and a packed trail lunch. Sounds like a deal to me. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/20/14 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, October 31, 2014

10 Best Family Ski Resorts

A family ski trip offers the rare opportunity to spend quality time with every member of your family, including your significant other. In the morning, kids can improve their skills at ski schools, while you hit the slopes with your number one squeeze. In the afternoon, children can show off their new tricks while you ski together as a family. The best ski areas have gentle slopes for little skiers, first rate instructors to enhance skills of children ages 3 and up (in group or private lessons), childcare services for kids younger than 3, and more than enough activity to keep the kids busy when they need a break from the mountain. If you’re thinking of hitting the slopes this winter with the family, check out my list of favorite North American ski areas, found at Family Vacation Critic
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/31/14 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Liftopia Offering Discounted Lift Tickets for Super Bowl Sunday

Liftopia should always be your first stop before heading to the mountain. They have deals at over 150 ski resorts in America. Pick the date and ski area you’re headed to and you could get a serious reduction on the price of a lift ticket. This week, Liftopia is offering its biggest sale of the year. You can grab savings of up to 70% off lift tickets at more than 200 ski resorts for Super Bowl Sunday. With the game starting at 6 pm EST, you have plenty of time to hit the slopes before the game. In Vermont, lift tickets at Bolton Valley start at $20, Okemo at $65. New Hampshire’s Ragged Mountain will be offering lift tickets for $48. In Utah, Solitude is offering tickets for $55. In Colorado, ski Copper for $72. The list goes on and on! While you're on the Liftopia website, check out my blog

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/29/14 at 11:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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