Ulster County, NY | The Perfect Home Base for Skiing and Snowboarding in the Hudson Valley | A Taft Street Winter Fun Guide
by Dylan Taft
on Thursday, March 1st, 2018 at 9:10am.
Some of the appeal of Ulster County lies in the fact that during any season, be it spring, summer, fall or winter, there is an abundance of beauty from our natural geography and a ton of activities to get residents (and visitors!) outside to enjoy all of them. In a region that is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking and highly visited mountain ranges in the country (the Catskills, Appalachians and Adirondacks to name only a few), it should be no surprise that these mountains are home to some of the best skiing in the northeast. While Ulster County itself is host to only a small number of ski areas, the amount of ski centers in the Hudson Valley and surrounding areas make Ulster the perfect home base for skiers and other outdoor winter enthusiasts who crave a variety of winter fun options, without having to traverse the US to find them. Visitors to Ulster County have a myriad of skiing options available to them within an hours’ drive time, or if you have a home here, or can extend your visit, even more amazing mountain destinations await you just a bit further across the border. Whether taking a bit of a drive to hit a world class mountain, or just stopping at the closest ski park for a few hours of snow tubing fun with the family, you'll find it here in the Catskills.
Woodstock, NY, located in northern Ulster County, is a great location and home base for skiers, with multiple Catskill Mountain ski areas less than one hour from your front door, so you’re never too far from the slopes. If you can extend your travel distance and drive a few more hours, you’ll have even more mountains and resorts to take your pick from. For true, avid, professional skiers, Woodstock is still only 3-4 hours from some of the northeast’s, and the world's’, most coveted mountains, including Killington, Vermont (nicknamed ‘The Beast’) and Whiteface Mountain, where some of the 1980 Winter Olympic events were held.
So now that we know where we are staying, where are we skiing? Ulster County is home to Belleayre Mountain, a top notch local ski destination that only continues to get better and better, and also to Sawkill Family Ski Center, a small ‘mountain’ (if you could even call it that) that would be a good place for beginners to learn the basics and get their feet wet before they tackle a larger slope, or to bring the family for some afternoon fun, but these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning your next ski trip.
Ready to break out your boots and skis and see where your next skiing adventure could take you? Then let’s start right here in our backyards...
Ulster County’s premier ski area, Belleayre Mountain, is looked at as a pioneer for winter sporting in our Catskill area and has helped to spur the economic catalyst that Catskill skiing has brought about over the past 50+ years. With over 50 trails ranging from easy green runs to more expert terrain with a vertical drop of 1,404 feet, 8 lifts and 4 lodges, there is something here that everyone can enjoy, and at any skill level. Kids will also enjoy their snow tubing sessions on weekends, great for last minute snowy day trips. Belleayre also holds the title as being the home of New York’s first ski area chairlift system, created back in 1949. While they may have started with humble beginnings, Belleayre’s future looks to be anything but. In 1995, Belleayre would host 70,000 skiers and snowboarders on the mountain per season, yet today their numbers are soaring upwards of 175,000 skiers and snowboarders from around the world! A model for the ski industry, Belleayre doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon; they are currently expanding their beginner terrain area for more teaching space, adding two progression parks and several more moguls as well as updating the cafeteria and lodges. With their motto of “perfection in progress” and all the updates and expansions underway, there’s a good chance that in some years from now, Belleayre won’t just be the premier Ulster County ski mountain center, it could be a true ski resort, likened to some of the greats resorts in the Adirondacks and Vermont regions. Currently, if you are visiting from out of town, Belleayre has ski and stay packages setup with local lodging so you can extend your skiing fun for as long as you’d like. Owning a home in this area now may have even greater rewards down the line if Belleayre expands into the epic ski resort that Ulster County already thinks it is!
What may be the smallest ski area on the East Coast or, potentially in the world, (and they’re proud to say so!) Sawkill Family Ski Center has 2 runs with a 70 foot vertical drop and a magic carpet lift, as well as a snowmaking machine that is able to cover most of their runs. If you’re a more experienced skier, you might want to skip this stop, but if you’re a newbie to the slopes, Sawkill Family Ski Center would be a great place to start as it is more of a learning center where kids or adults can learn to ski before heading out onto a larger mountain. There is also an area where you can snow tube, if you’re looking for a place just right around the corner that will keep the kids occupied on a snowy day.
Skiing Beyond Ulster County:
Hunter, NY (18 miles, 30 minutes from Woodstock, NY)
Just over the border into Greene County, Hunter Mountain is one of the biggest local skiing resorts and also home to many music festivals and large events throughout the spring, summer and autumn, before the snow begins to fly. Hunter Mountain has 58 trails that range from beginner to expert and has over 240 acres of skiable terrain with a 1,600 ft vertical drop. Even if you have family members who aren’t skiers, they will be happy to come to Hunter with you as there’s plenty to do on the on mountain resort, including shopping, dining at Van Winkle’s restaurant and bar (with gourmet dining and pub food options) and even spa services. Snow tubing sessions regularly take place on Friday (family fun night passes available!), Saturday and Sunday, and its best to call ahead as times for sessions are subject to change.
Windham, NY (28 miles, 50 minutes from Woodstock, NY)
Windham Mountain also boasts 1,600 foot vertical drops on their 54 trails. Windham has plenty of night skiing options as well, with over 50 acres of skiable terrain on 9 trails, if you haven’t gotten in enough time on the slopes during the day. Also with lodging, dining and spa services on site, there’s no need to leave this mountain resort if you so choose. Their outdoor adventure park is a great option for a fun afternoon with the family, where you can snow tube, ice skate, or for adrenaline loving kiddos, ride a child sized snowmobile!
Catamount Ski Area
Hillsdale, NY (49 miles, 1 hour from Woodstock, NY)
Catamount Ski Area is located on the border of Massachusetts and New York and is one of the oldest original operating ski centers in the Northeast, first opening up in 1939. Their snowmaking covers 99% of the terrain and they have 7 lifts in total to take you up to the 1,000 ft vertical drop and to the longest run in all of the Berkshire Mountains. Catamount also has 15 trails covering over 4 miles of terrain for night skiers!
Located in the town of Roxbury, in Greene County, NY is Plattekill Mountain, which contains 38 trails and 4 ski lifts, with some pretty challenging trails and a terrain park. In the summer, when they aren’t making snow, Plattekill Mountain becomes a very popular mountain biking destination, with biking rentals, beginner packages and season passes available as well. Saturdays from 11am-7pm and Sundays from 11am-4pm, enjoy snow tubing sessions for all!
Patterson, NY (73 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes from Woodstock, NY )
Located 35 minutes from Danbury, Connecticut, you might not expect to find a ski mountain in the area, but alas, there sits Thunder Ridge, with 22 trails ranging from novice to experienced, a ski school and competitive ski racing for children aged 6- 19. Thunder Ridge even has a Metro-North Ski Train from NYC and surrounding metro areas that will take you to the Patterson train stop and then shuttle you to the mountain for free.
Mohawk Mountain Ski Area
Cornwall, CT ( 62 miles, 1 hour and 30 minutes from Woodstock, NY)
Located in northwestern Connecticut, this resort has laid claims as the first resort to have worked with local engineers in the late 1940s to create the first snowmaking system ever used at a ski resort and provided the footing for the technology that is used around the world today. With 25 trails, 8 lifts and a vertical drop of 650 feet, this little resort contains all the basics you could ask for on a ski trip.
Mountain Creek is the closest ski resort to the NYC Metro area and is a beloved local winter and summer destination (in the summer, their mountain bike park and waterpark become the main attractions). Aside from their 46 trails and 8 lifts, which are all accessible for night skiing during the December-March season, there is also a 30 lane snow-tubing park with a magic carpet lift, lessons and equipment rentals and onsite lodging with lots of amenities.
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort
Hancock, MA ( 84 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes from Woodstock, NY)
With 45 trails and 9 lifts, a rental shop, lessons and lodge amenities, Jiminy Peak Ski Resort is another great ski destination that isn’t that far of a drive from Woodstock at all. They also have a mountain adventure park with alpine slides and coasters, as well as an aerial adventure park that is opened up for summer fun on the mountain.
West Mountain Ski Resort
Queensbury, NY ( 106 miles, 1 hour 45 minutes from Woodstock, NY)
Located just outside the Adirondack Park, West Mountain Ski resort has over 30 trails on 126 skiable acres, ranging from easy green trails to expert black diamond terrain. Their snowmaking machines allow for perfect skiing conditions, even when mother nature doesn’t agree. Rentals and lessons are available and the cafeteria and full service restaurant in the lodge will keep your energy up after a day on the slopes.
Gore Mountain Ski Resort
North Creek, NY ( 139 miles, 2 hours 20 minutes from Woodstock, NY)
With over 109 trails and a 2,537foot vertical drop, Gore Mountain contains the most skiable acreage in New York and is one of the most popular Adirondack ski centers. With 15 lifts, including an 8 passenger Northwoods Gondola, you can spend more time on the slopes instead of waiting to get back up the mountain. The nearby North Creek Ski Bowl village slopes and tubing park is open at night, under the lights and there are plenty of lodging, dining and local shopping options.
Somerset, VT ( 120 miles, 2 hours and 25 minutes from Woodstock, NY)
At Vermont’s southernmost ski resort, Mount Snow, there is plenty to do in all seasons, but in winter, the mountain comes alive. In addition to the 590 skiable acres and 85 trails, other winter activities include cross country skiing, dog sledding excursions, sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, snowshoeing, tubing and more. There’s also plenty to do for those who need a break from the slopes; explore the many amenities of the lodges and vacation rooms, or visit the NatureSpa.
Camelback Mountain Resort
Tannersville, PA ( 138 miles, 2 hours 30 minutes from Woodstock, NY)
Camelback Mountain is a popular Pocono Mountain Ski Resort (the lodge, adventure park and indoor/outdoor waterpark are equally big attractions in the summer) that also has the biggest snowtubing park in the US. Their 34 trails will accommodate any ski expertise level, and with 16 total lifts, they will get you there quickly. With an 800 foot vertical rise and 100% snowmaking coverage, there’s never a bad time to ski Camelback in the winter.
Did your favorite local ski resort make our list? What’s your favorite mountain to ski near the Ulster County area? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below! Be sure to follow Taft Street Realty’s Facebook Page for even more fun, local things to do here in Ulster County!