Jay Peak has been in the news a lot lately. It the center of a controversial EB-5 investment program which turned out to be a giant fraud. Even the money used to initially purchase the mountain itself was fraudulently raised. The mountain is currently being operated by a receiver appointed by a federal judge as a result of the SEC complaint. After a large settlement with the accounting firm Raymond James, the receiver has repaid all outstanding bills and is completing the development project that transformed the mountain from the best kept secret in the East into a luxury resort.
Jay Peak, located just a few miles from the Canadian border, is the ski resort that reports the most snow in the East. Are these reports accurate? Maybe. Their location at the northern end of the Green Mountains make them prone to receive wrap-around snowfall after a passing Nor'Easter. This snow tends to be very fluffy, leading to the best powder in the East. But this powder doesn't make the best base snow so use caution if it is early season or there was recent rain. It's common to get a layer of powder on top of glassy ice.
Jay Peak is known for its glade and tree skiing. It relies on natural snow to cover most of its trails. Snowmaking is not its strength, nor is grooming. The main trails are often icy, but the Jay loyalists don't care. You'll find the regulars in the trees whenever conditions allow. If you're looking for a ski trip to ski groomed trails, look elsewhere.
Base Areas and Parking
The mountain is divided into two base areas: Stateside and Tramside. There is parking, lodging, dining, and skiing at both bases.
The Tramside is where you'll find the water park, ice haus, and main lodge and spa. It's also home to both the tram to the summit, and the Flyer Express Quad which is commonly referred to as the freezer. Given its more northern exposure, this is the colder and windier side of the mountain.
Compared to Tramside, the Stateside area is like a day at the beach. This is the place to be to hide from the cold. While it is a bit less luxurious, it is still very well done. There are no express lifts here, but the chairs are worth the ride. Parking is also easier on this side, and this is where the regulars go.
Beginners can do well at either base lodge, but will be limited to the lower mountain terrain. Don't be afraid of any terrain off the Taxi Quad at Stateside, Metro Quad at Tramside, or Village Double in between. At the top of the Taxi Quad, take a look at the side of a nearby building for inspiration. It reads "Fear is the enemy of progression." For skiers looking to step up from greens, try Full Moon, Half Moon, and Quarter Moon off of Perril Merril via the Metro Quad on Tramside. These are short intermediate trails that are a good step up. There are also so low angle open glades in this area to try.
The map may show a lot of intermediate cruisers, but the reality is a bit different. The intermediate terrain is quickly skied off and is prone to ice. Goat Run and Northway are particularly susceptible to this. Vermonter and Montrealer off the summits have a couple tricky spots that exceed what many mountains would rate as a blue. Ullr's Dream gets marginally less traffic and is a better bet if the weather is warm enough to take runs off the freezer lift.
Intermediate skiers looking to dabble in the trees have a few welcoming options. Kokomo isn't much more than a low angle green trail but twisting around some clumps of trees. Likewise the Stateside glade off the Jet triple is intermediate friendly. Half Moon and Bushwacker on the Tramside lower mountain have trees.
If you're looking for steep groomers, the Jet and Haynes off the Jet Triple on Stateside are the place to go. In between them, UN is a narrow ungroomed trail that is quite fun, and the next trail over is Kitzbuehel which is a great option on a powder day, though it is prone to icy patches. Green Beret off of Vermonter from the summit is a classic steep ungroomed trail. JFK off the freezer lift has nice bumps and twists. Upper Can Am is a steep trail next to the Bonnie lift, and it may or may not have snowmaking depending on management's mood that year.
- Tree Skiing / Glades
Glades are where Jay shines. The options are numerous.
Off the Jet: Timbuktu is probably the most popular glade Stateside. Just keep an eye out for the boundary rope. Kitz Woods nearby are worth hitting.
Off the Bonnie: Canyonland is a good option. Deliverance is quite narrow up top and needs good snow.
Off the Summit: Valhalla and the Face Chutes are Facebook photo worthy. But they both need a lot of natural cover.
Off the Freezer: Everglade is a long glade run nearly all the way down. Beaver Pond and Andre's Paradise a popular glades that can get tracked out if the base is not deep.
Dining and Drinking
- Lunch / Dinner
Alice's Table is the best restaurant on the mountain.
The Bullwheel is the bar upstairs in the Stateside lodge. It has a cut-out of a school bus adorned to the wall. It makes no sense, but it works.
Tramside, head to the Tower Bar.
- Late Night
While hardly late night, the action moves to the condos and water park. A drink in the bar above the water park will give a warmer feeling. Pro Tip: you don't need a water park ticket to access the hot tub outside it by the bar.
Annual Special Events
Local Ski Shops
There isn't much around. There is a full service shop in the Stateside lodge. There is a shop down the street in Jay, but it's nothing impressive.
Where to Stay
If you're staying on-mountain, all the hotels are nice. You can't go wrong. But the location of the Tramside hotels is a winner for the proximity to activities.
For condos there is a classic location vs luxury trade-off. The Slopeside condos have a perfect location in walking distance to the Tramside base and water park. The Village condos are much nicer and larger.
Off-mountain, your options are very limited. For hostel style lodging filled with skiers on a budget, Grandpa Grunts is a legend. If you still want a hotel but can't afford Jay's on-mountain prices, you're going to have to drive. The Newport City Inn is about the best compromise, but don't expect much of Newport.
Adult tickets are $82. If you are a Vermont resident or have a pass to another mountain, you can get a $67 ticket. There is a ski group at Jay every Sunday that offers $35 lift tickets and $20 water park tickets.
If you're looking for a season pass at a bargain, join an EICSL club and go on their annual trip in December. Participants get 5-days lodging and an unlimited season pass. Last year's price was $575.
For more information: http://www.jaypeakresort.com/
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Edited by MimersG