Sad, but true.
Wherever there are active ski areas, you can bet there are abandoned ski areas, too. According to the New England Lost Ski Area Project, Vermont, alone, has 116; New Hampshire, 174; Maine, 75; Massachusetts, 173; and Connecticut, 60. And there are hundreds more all over the country.
There’s no denying that the ski industry is tough. A warm winter can be devastating. Add to that the business challenges of the marketplace along with high operating expenses, and it’s not hard to see how a ski area can fail.
My husband and I recently hiked Snow Valley, a lost ski area in southern Vermont. With 15 trails and a vertical drop of 900 feet, Snow Valley began operations in 1947. The area closed in 1984, unable to hold its own against larger areas like Stratton, Bromley, and Magic. In 2004, there was a glimmer of hope — someone bought it and was going to turn it into a private ski area. But that never happened. Today Snow Valley is being reclaimed by Mother Nature. The trails are covered with waist- and chest-high brush and trees, and the base lodge is a charred wreck, the result of a fire in 2011. Nonetheless, there’s a haunted quality about the place. Even on a warm, sun-filled day in June, with the sky a sapphire blue and the mountains a riot of green, you can practically feel the ghosts of skiers from winters past. It’s a shame the place had to close.
Here’s all that’s left of the base lodge:
We hiked up the trail marked #1 on the map. It doesn’t look too overgrown in this shot, but trust me — I could’ve used a machete. My husband called it a poison ivy festival. I think he was right. Swarms of bugs accompanied us on our trek (thank God for insect repellent) and to be honest, I was a bit wary of snakes. But we made it without incident.
We found remnants of the resort’s infrastructure.
I’m not sure what this little building was for, but there are a few small structures still in place.
Here’s another building at the base, beside what must have been the snowmaking reservoir:
Snow Valley is in a beautiful place. Here’s the view across the valley to Bromley, another Vermont ski area:
I’d like to explore Snow Valley further, but I think I’ll wait til fall when the leaves are down. The brush made this a difficult slog, and I’m sure there are many things that’d be a lot easier to see. I’ll keep you posted.
Thank you for sharing your photos and story. They are lovely. I know of a couple of such areas in Wyoming, though I bet there are more.
While I have never gotten to hike a lost ski area, I wanted to share a link to a book of photographs by a young man who died too soon doing what he loved most, skiing.
The book is called Lost Ski Areas of New England, and all the proceeds will go to causes he believed in. He created it his senior year in HS.
His death marked all of us who worked at the resort where he died, and so this seemed like a wonderful place to share his legacy.
What a tragedy! I always hate to hear about someone who lost their life while
skiing. It’s important for all of us to remember that the sport does indeed have
risks, and we’d be wise not to ignore them.
The book looks interesting and could be a good resource for anyone interested
in lost ski areas in New England. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for sharing your story Wendy and Snowymonkey. I never tried to
hike in a lost ski area but it seems to be a bit scary. Anyway, this is
such a heartbreaking story and interesting too… Also to Wendy, looking
forward to seeing the next episode of this story, thanks again!
Sadly, the mountain I learned to ski on, Mount Ascutney, now belongs on this list. I had hopes, but the last lift was to be removed this week… : (
Thanks for sharing.