Stowe — Mountain layout
The skiing at Stowe is on two sides of a valley, now connected by the 10-passenger high-speed transfer cross-over gondola. On one side youll find the famous “Front Four”—Goat, Starr, Liftline and National—as well as the long and gentle Toll Road trail and other famous trails like Nose Dive and Hayride. The Gondola serves the Cliff House Restaurant and trails such as leg-burning Chin Clip and cruisers including Gondolier and Perry Merrill. On the other side of the valley, Spruce Peak rises to 3,390 feet. The site of Stowes new mountain village, Spruce now has top-to-bottom snowmaking on several trails and great intermediate runs. The Spruce base is also home to the child care center.
Heres a larger, more detailed trail map.
Part of the legend of Stowe revolves around its Front Four, and the fact that it features some of the steepest and most difficult runs in skidom. Having descended the Front Four is a badge of honor for Northeast skiers and deservedly so, given the nature of Goat, Starr, Liftline and National. Besides being steep, the headwalls are frequently draped with vintage New England hardpack, and the trails are liberally moguled. Experts who are gunning for all four should begin with National and Liftline. The resorts winch cats allow groomers to prepare these two from time to time, so this is a good place to get used to the Front Fours considerable steepness. Starr is not groomed, and the view from the top of this run, as it disappears in a steep 37-degree dive toward the base lodge far below, is one you won forget. If you haven met your match by this time, then you
For more off piste terrain, try the trees off Bypass. The pitch eases on Nose Dive, with more wide-open trees to skiers left off the main trail. Skiers are also known to hike The Chin— Mt. Mansfields highest point at 4,395 feet—where there is intense out-of-bounds skiing and riding. But we suggest you hook up with someone whos familiar with the area. The cliff bands and tight chutes are really nasty, plus you can easily end up on the backside of the mountain with no clue how to return to civilization.
For advanced skiers, a very nice section of glade skiing through well-spaced trees is just off the top section of Nose Dive. Chin Clip from the top of the gondola is long, moguled, and moderately narrow, but it doesn have quite the steep grade that the Front Four boast.
This group can enjoy nearly 60 percent of the trails, including much of Spruce Peak. At Mt. Mansfield, ski to the right or left of the Front Four. Advanced-intermediates will probably want to chance the tricky top part of Nose Dive for the pleasure of skiing the long, sweeping cruiser that beckons further down. Going left from the top of the FourRunner Quad, take Upper Lord until it leads you to a handful of long, excellent intermediate trails that run all the way to the bottom on Lower Lord, North Slope, Standard and Gulch.
From the quad, reaching the intermediate skiing under the gondola presents a problem. The connection between these two parts of the mountain is not convenient unless you are willing to take a run down Nose Dive, rated double-black at its top. If you don want to chance Nose Dive, its a hike from the quad area over to the gondola, or you can take the green-circle Crossover trail toward the bottom of the mountain, which allows you to traverse directly across the Front Four to the gondola base. If you want to work your way back from the gondola to the quad, take the Cliff Trail, which eventually hooks up with Lower Nose Dive and dumps you at the base of the high-speed chair.
If you feel as though you need a little elbow room after too many tight New England trails, try Perry Merrill or Gondolier from the gondola, or cut wide turns down Main Street on Spruce Peak. The resort has changed the entire experience on Upper Spruce Peak by replacing the old and cold Big Spruce double chair with a high-speed quad and adding snowmaking. The mountain is a cruisers delight, and powder days are a real treat.
Intermediates may also enjoy Stowes night skiing. The upper portion of Perry Merrill and about 85 percent of Gondolier are lit Thursday through Saturday until 9 p.m. The ride up is in the warm gondola.
There are very nice beginner trails off the lower lifts on Spruce Peak and off the Toll House chair on Mt. Mansfield. You won find yourself worrying about faster skiers, so youll be able to enjoy the experience.
One route we recommend to all levels is the 4-mile-long, green-circle Toll Road, which starts at the top of the FourRunner quad. This is a marvelous trail for lower-level skiers, but the more proficient probably will enjoy it too—more for its beauty than for its challenge. You will pass through a canopy of trees, where you can hear only quiet sounds, such as birds chirping or snow plopping from the branches. A little later you’ll find the small wood-and-stone Mountain Chapel, where on Sundays at 1 p.m. you can attend an informal church service. You just won’t find this type of intimate ski trail out West.
First-timers should start at Spruce Peak base area, which is undergoing a major revitalization. Almost all the lifts have been replaced and new learning terrain has been added.Once you