Turns out, you don’t have to go all the way to the slopes in Vermont, New Hampshire or even the Adirondacks to find some winter fun in close proximity to Brooklyn — there are plenty of places to ski and snowboard just up north in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. Here are some of our favorites.
Belleayre Mountain. Photo via Belleayre.com
Belleayre Mountain in Highmount, Ulster County: We consider Belleayre, Hunter and Windham Mountains the Holy Trinity of winter recreation in the Catskills. Belleayre is located off Route 28 in Ulster County, about an hour west of Kingston. The popular ski and snowboarding destination consists of 55 trails, eight lifts, a trail for every skill level and four lodges. And, Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park is poised to make the ski area more popular than ever.
Once complete, Belleayre Resort at Catskill will be a year-round resort destination featuring two hotels for a total of 370 beds, 96 additional lodging units, restaurants, spa, conference center and golf course.
Meanwhile, Belleayre Mountain’s opening day is usually in late November, so start booking your stay at the charming Starlite Motel in Big Indian, just four miles from Belleayre Mountain. Or, try the Phoenicia Lodge, 15 minutes away.
Getting There: The Trailways bus to Pine Bush will get you about three miles from Belleayre. Trailways also offers a Belleayre Ski Bus from Port Authority with overnight packages and other deals available. Keep your eyes on the Belleayre website for more information when winter sports season rolls around. Or, you can book a day trip with the I LOVE NY bus and ride to the slopes in comfort.
Hunter Mountain. Photo via Huntermtn.com
Hunter Mountain in Hunter, Greene County: Hunter isn’t just where you go to ski and snowboard. It’s also where you go to have a good time. In fact, last year, Thrillist put Hunter Mountain first on its list of “Best Apres-Ski Towns in America,” and while we take issue with their immediate assessment that “serious skiers don’t come to New York State,” we get what they’re saying.
That doesn’t mean the good times are restricted to outside the slopes. Hunter Mountain offers more trails than Belleayre (58), plus an overall steeper vertical drop (Hunter: 1600 feet, Belleayre: 1404 feet). Snowboarders love Hunter, too, and you go tubing down the slopes if that’s more your style.
Check out the small and friendly Twilight Lodge in Haines Falls for a place to stay for the weekend, located about 10 minutes from Hunter Mountain’s front gate. Twilight’s rooms are fun, it offers complimentary breakfast, and its location is right in the heart of Catskills Vacationland.
Getting There: Trailways bus stops in Hunter village, or book a day trip package on the I LOVE NY bus.
Windham Mountain. Photo via Wyndhammountain.com
Windham Mountain in Windham, Greene County: Windham’s 53 trails make it the smallest of the Holy Trinity. It also bills itself as the “family-friendly resort in the Catskills,” perhaps in an effort to separate itself from its more rambunctious neighbor Hunter Mountain, located about 20 minutes away. Regardless, it’s a longer drive to bucolic Windham Mountain Village, which makes it a somewhat quieter alternative.
Windham offers 1600 feet of vertical drop, plus 12 lifts, six terrain parks and 283 acres of skiable land. While you’re there, you can always book a room at the resort itself, but you can also look into Albergo Allegria B&B in Windham village for a cozy inn-and-breakfast experience.
Getting There: Trailways Bus is our best bet for non-car transportation since it stops in Windham village near the mountain. If you’re driving, go to Hunter village and head north on NY-296.
Plattekill Mountain. Photo via Plattekill.com
Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury, Delaware County: This small mountain is another hour west of Windham, which may be too far to go for some. Good. They can stay home while you bring the family to ski or snowboard the mountain’s 38 trails. Plattekill also includes four lifts, one terrain park and two miles of trails.
It might not be the biggest mountain the Catskills, but Plattekill is situated in some seriously gorgeous countryside, so plan to stay for a bit since you came all this way. You already know our feelings about the Roxbury Motel, but check out the fun and quirky Andes Hotel, too, located 35 minutes from Plattekill. The 10-room inn also has its own restaurant and tavern.
Getting There: The I LOVE NY bus also offers package deals to Plattekill. Additionally, Adirondack Trailways will get you to Arkville, about 10 minutes away from Plattekill. From there, you’ll have to cab it.
Catamount Ski Area. Photo via Catamountski.com
Catamount Ski Area in Hillsdale, Columbia County: The ski area itself is technically in Massachusetts, but Catamount is still popular among Hudson Valley full- and part-time residents alike. Located near the quiet village of Hillsdale in southwestern Columbia County, Catamount lift tickets are a thrifty $35 per adult, a real bargain compared to the aforementioned mountains. It’s a small mountain with a welcoming staff and a family-friendly environment. Slopes include 36 trails, seven lifts and one terrain park.
During the summer, Catamount turns into an aerial adventure park with 170 platforms up in trees and connected by a series of climbing obstacles. Each ticket to the ariel park is worth three hours of time spent crawling around on ropes suspended from trees and in the air. (Catamount promises that every participant is always attached.) Sounds like the perfect way to blow off steam.
Stay within 15 minutes of Catamount for winter or summer fun at the Inn at Sweet Water Farm. The rooms are elegant, and breakfast made from local, fresh ingredients is included with your stay.
Getting There: Google will provide you with complicated directions on how to get to Catamount via train from Penn Station. (Spoiler alert: You’ll still need to drive to Catamount after transferring from train to bus en route.) However, the good old I LOVE NY bus offered ski/snowboard packages for Catamount last year, and we have no reason to think they won’t do the same this year.
Thunder Ridge. Photo via Thunderridgeski.com
Thunder Ridge in Patterson, Putnam County: One of the reasons we included this small mountain in Putnam County is because it might be the easiest to get to without a car. The Metro-North train stops in Patterson and from there, a shuttle can take you to Thunder Ridge. Doesn’t get much easier than that — unless you decide to schlep your snowboard on the train. Luckily, you can rent a board, helmet and boots or skis, boots, poles and a helmet for $39.
Thunder Ridge’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system guarantees a soft blanket of fresh snow that spans over 100 acres of land, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Its 30-trail system includes options for very beginners as well as experts, three chairlifts, and four “magic carpets” (a kind of conveyer belt for getting people up the mountain while they’re standing). A full day’s lift ticket runs $52 per adult, but your cheapest option at Thunder Ridge is night skiing Monday through Friday for $25 per ticket.
Unfortunately, there are no hotels, inns or B&Bs within a short distance of Thunder Ridge. However, Heidi’s Inn is located about 10 minutes south of Thunder Ridge in Brewster. An affordable, casual motel, Heidi’s Inn can put you up for less than $100 per night during the winter.
Getting There: Take the Metro-North. Don’t be a hero. Let someone else do the driving for you.
[Top photo: Belleayre Mountain via Belleayre.com]