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Sugarbush

2000 acres of backcountry, crack-of-dawn cat skiing and plenty of steep, technical stuff like the legendary Castlerock area - if you want adventure, this 6-peak resort has it by the bucket load.

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

At a glance: • New England authenticity • Tree-skiing • “natural snow” areas

Great for: • Experts • Off-piste • Short transfers

2000 acres of backcountry, crack-of-dawn cat skiing and plenty of steep, technical stuff like the legendary Castlerock area - if you want adventure, this 6-peak resort has it by the bucket load.

Sugarbush Resort

Sugarbush takes its name from a maple tree the Vermonters tap for syrup. It’s a fitting moniker - this resort is one sweet deal and classic Vermont. There’s a tight-knit community feel to the small Lincoln Peak and Mt Ellen base villages and resort owner, Win Smith, a Wall Street vet can be spotted on the hill 100 days a year. Once known as “Mascara Mountain” for all the celebrities and social elite it attracted in the 60’s (the Kennedys were fans), today it has a much homelier feel. Even the shiniest, newest builds (where you’ll find the hot tubs and the spas) have been designed to resemble Vermont farmhouses, with an old-looking but very new schoolhouse that’s the base for the kids' ski school programs.

Nestled in the Mad River Valley, the entire region is a nature retreat, 350,000 acres of national forest where chain stores (even traffic lights) have yet to encroach. Ditch the smartphone and a week here will take 10 years off you.

Sugar wants to get skiing back to the way it used to be. It only grooms about 1/3 of its terrain, opting instead for a more rugged alpine experience. Many trails sport natural snow, twists, drops, bumps and turns, a thrilling change from well-groomed boulevards – though these it does excellently too. Sugar purposefully leaves snow guns off its famed Castlerock peak, so the experience is all natural and 100% unique.

No doubt the extra trip time to Sugarbush has kept the droves away. Yet, even in recent seasons, as new hotels and facilities lure more visitors along Route 100 (past Killington, Stowe and Mt Snow), the terrain can cope with many more.

(photos: John Atkinson and Hans Jonathon Von Briesen)

Stats & FAQ

Location: Vermont, USA

Established: 1958

Open: November - April

Downhill: 578 acres / 111 runs

View our detailed Sugarbush snow forecast or snow report and see all live webcams, piste maps, road and travel maps and lift pass prices. For a picture of historic snow conditions see the snow depths month by month with our Sugarbush snow history.

Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
Burlington International Airport (BTV)42 miles, 1 hour
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 20%

  • 45%

  • 35%

Top Altitude:4083ft / 1244m
Bottom Altitude:1483ft / 452m
Resort Altitude:1483ft / 452m
Longest run:5km
Slope Orientation:N E
Vertical Drop:2600ft / 790m
Skiable Vertical:
Night Skiing:No
Glacier:No

Snow Report

  • Top
  • 8cm
  • Base
  • N/Acm
  • Forecast
  • N/Acm

Web Cam

Sugarbush web cams
Downhill Runs:578 acres / 111 runs
Beginner slopes:20%
Intermediate:45%
Advanced slopes:35%
Lift Pass Price: $50-90 (adult single day pass)
Nearby resorts: Stratton Mountain, Killington, Okemo

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Sugarbush

2 mountains for the price of 1, Sugarbush is separated between main Lincoln Peak and taller Mt Ellen to the north, once a ski area all of its own. Between them you’ll count 6 peaks, 16 lifts, nearly 30 wooded areas and the 2000-acre Slide Brook Basin - a package that makes up one of New England’s biggest ski areas.

Most of the resort's beginner skiing is clustered around the two base areas and at lower altitudes – none of the top-to-bottom runs Vermont is usually known for. But you can’t fault the snow, or the ski school’s award-winning First-Timer-to-Life-Timer packages. Both mountains have greens to practice on, but Mt Ellen has the lengthiest. Head up to the Glen House mountain restaurant to make sure you don’t miss out on views, then take Northway to Walt's Trail, the longest green available on either peak.

The variety of terrain for an intermediate is as good as it gets. You’ll find steep, twisting, New England-style runs that are super narrow, broad open runs for wide, fast turns and more than a few introductory glades like the Sleeper Woods. All 6 peaks, with the exception of Castlerock, are yours.

A name like Sugarbush sounds like one big bunny area. Don’t be fooled, this resort has some of the tightest, gnarliest skiing in the US. This is made all the more thrilling by the fact that lots of the area goes ungroomed. Castlerock is the famed expert-only peak, but double blacks are dotted around the ski area. Mt. Ellen has Sugarbush's steepest run, FIS, while Stein’s Run on Gad Peak is an iconic mogul field. One of the best things you can do is book a guide to tuck into the 2000 acres of the Slide Brook Basin that you ride over in the Express Quad between the bases. For a real treat, sign up for “Adventures with John Egan,” a 14-time ski film star, to let a local celebrity guide you through the backcountry.

Sugarbush Apres Ski

With the exception of crazy Killington, Vermont has never been big on parties. What it does go in for are local brews and a good chinwag before a hearty slap up meal. Head to the Castlerock Pub’s patio to share tales of glory about your day on the peak of the same name, or visit the Valley House Lodge’s new Wünderbar for live music and wide-ranging views, beers and stiffer stuff.

It’s not just the ski terrain and architecture here that’s authentic Vermont. Even the cheeses and meats at the Timbers restaurant are all locally sourced and enjoyed in a round, 19th century dairy barn. If you’re up for an exploration, the Mad River Valley is home to over 20 more restaurants, bars and inns. But the best is arguably still in resort - hop in the Lincoln Limo Snow Cat and you can watch TV while being rolled to a fire-lit dinner, fondue and champagne at Allyn's Lodge, before skiing (or rolling) back down.

When you’re surrounded by this much natural beauty, you’re almost obligated to take a guided snowshoe tour of the area, which is home to bears, moose, lynxes, coyotes, deer and… turkey. Even if you don’t actually spot a critter, you’ll be taught to interpret tracks, read marks on trees and recognize animal sounds like a regular old Bear Grills. Take the photography tour if you can’t bear to keep the views to yourself. Then come in from the cold to the Health and Rec center, where there’s a climbing wall, pools, hot tubs and group fitness classes like yoga.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Sugarbush

When is the best time to ski Sugarbush?

Sugarbush’s 260” average annual snowfall is not to be sniffed at, especially when this is backed up by exceptional snowmaking and grooming (where it’s not intentionally omitted to leave natural snow). Combined, this provides some of the most reliable conditions in Vermont.

March is generally known as this state’s month, when Sugarbush sees an average 142cm at the top and 73cm at the bottom of the ski area. This is when the maple syrup begins to flow from the sugarbushes and the resort holds the annual Sugaring Time Festival, with a resort wide scavenger hunt, maple-based activities, plus cuisine and cocktails doused in the stuff.

Peak Dates

The calendar is packed for Christmas in Sugarbush with fun like gingerbread house building, s'more cookouts, festive feasts at Timbers and the Blizzard Boogie - an outdoor dance, with live DJ, hot cider and the Castlerock Ice Bar.

Everyone enjoys a traditional torchlight parade and fireworks for New Year in Sugarbush and the less traditional annual dog parade... From there it’s up to you to pick between dinner and dancing at Timbers, a blow-out at the Castlerock pub, or family time back at your inn or condo.

Get the most out of an all too short week with a Half Term in Sugarbush. Skiing on Mt Ellen’s quiet slopes in the day, taking snowcat dinners at night, and learning to identify animal cries in between will provide plenty of stories for when you’re back at the office or classroom.

Mt Ellen has usually closed for Easter in Sugarbush , but Lincoln Peak is still going strong. The slopes are quieter than ever and beers on the Castlerock patio are what spring skiing is all about.

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Families in Sugarbush

Small, uncrowded resorts like this one are always a treat for families, but Sugarbush goes one further. It often offers special deals like kids 12 and under skiing and riding free with resort lodging.

The ski school is located in a Schoolhouse building at Lincoln Peak, which may influence where you base the brood. This offers lessons to kids from 4-6 (Mini Bears) and 7-12 (Sugar Bears), while older children comfortable on expert trails can choose an adventure camp. This will introduce them to backcountry and advanced skiing on the steeps, bumps, and trees of Sugarbush’s wildest terrain.

Daycare-ski session combos are on offer with the Sugarbush Day School at Lincoln for those as young as 3 (Micro Bears).

When lifts have closed and energy’s still running high, bring the brood to the Adventure Zone for basketball, ping-pong, bungee trampolining, gaga ball and bouncy castles. Frequent fixtures in the events calendar include kid’s movie nights and cooking classes give grownups more “me” time.

GroupsGroup Holidays Sugarbush

If you’re looking for something a little different for a group trip, this pretty spot in the thick of the Green Mountain national forest should get the pulse racing. First off, there’s the thrill of skiing the unspoiled wildernesses of scenic Mt Ellen and fearsome Castlerock peak. Aside from this, you can book in for some adventure skiing with Warren Miller legend John Egan, take a group snowshoe tour in the wilds of the Slide Brook basin and end a day over a fondue with a Cabin Cat dining adventure. If there’s a birthday on the cards, the resort’s professional baker will even whip you up a cake.

A group of 20 or more can often find special rates on lodging, meal plans, equipment rentals, ski and board lessons.

More Sugarbush Holiday Resources


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