Killington, Vermont certainly lives up to its reputation as the beast of the east. Not only is it the largest ski area in the northeast, but, at 3,050 feet, it boasts the longest vertical drop in New England. Killington also offers a wide variety of terrain for every level, including an entire mountain devoted to beginner skiers.
The ski resort has one of the most successful ski school programs in the world. Its Snow Sports School was recently recognized by the National Ski Areas Association for its strides in converting new skiers and snowboarders into lifelong enthusiasts. During our recent visit we got to experience the full breadth of Killington mountain, with over 152 open trails, 13 operational lifts, and a comfortable homebase at Killington Mountain Lodge.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST SKIING ON KILLINGTON MOUNTAIN
The skiing at Killington is some of the best in the Northeast. This season has already seen significant more snowfall than last year and we enjoyed a few fresh inches each day. In the past, we’ve experienced a variety of terrain for every skill level and so this time we chose to explore as many of Killington’s ski areas as possible. We started at Snowshed Basin, which is an entire mountain dedicated to beginner terrain and green circle trails. Once we were thoroughly warmed up, we skied straight over to to the K1 base area and caught the gondola to the top.
From here, we explored some of our favorite blue runs on the top half of the mountain, including Bear Trax, Launchpad, and Blue Heaven. Our top picks, however, had to be The Great Northern, a long and winding blue trail, and The Great Eastern, a scenic green trail that runs several miles long, ending at the Skyeship basin. We were also big fans of Superstar, a black diamond run designed for advanced skiers and riders looking to build their mogul skills.
Once we’d had our fill of Killington Peak, we hit up a few runs on Skye Peak and then headed over to Bear Mountain for some even more advanced terrain. Some of our favorite black diamonds here included Outer Limits, Devil’s Fiddle, and a few of gladed runs like Centerpiece and Growler. There was also The Stash, a great terrain park on Bear Mountain that had excellent features for both skiers and boarders.
STAY AT THE KILLINGTON MOUNTAIN LODGE
We first arrived in Killington at the Killington Mountain Lodge, which served as our base of operations for this winter adventure. KML is centrally located on Killington Road only a few minutes from the mountain and amidst downtown restaurants and bars. They provide convenient regular shuttle service to and from the mountain in the mornings and afternoons. Just be sure you don’t miss the last shuttle at 9:45, or you will be left to find your own way to the mountain (only a short car ride away).
We especially loved the entrance to the lodge, where we were greeted by a striking floor-to-ceiling fireplace upon our arrival. The staff is extremely friendly and warm, and were readily available for anything we needed. We also loved the Brita water filling station on the first floor, which was a great spot for us to fill our reusable ALEX Bottles, keeping us hydrated throughout our entire stay.
Our room accommodations were spacious and comfortable. We stayed in the family suite, which featured two separate rooms with three beds and double balconies. We also had a mini fridge, desk area and two TV’s. The only thing missing was an extra closet, as we had only one in the single bedroom. The rooms were easily accessible from the elevator and featured daily maid service as well.
One of our favorite aspects of KML was their continental breakfast offered each morning. It included fresh local coffee, juices, eggs, sausage, toast and much more. For us, it was the perfect setup. We were able to load up on energy before hitting the slopes, and didn’t have to waste time, effort and money on locating food on the mountain. KML’s breakfast was the perfect fuel for the first half of our day on the mountain.
After a full day on the slopes, we returned to the lodge and relaxed on the second floor “chill” area, which featured a pool table, giant jenga / connect four as well as other assorted games, not to mention the roaring fireplace where we warmed our bodies and dried our gear. To further ease our sore muscles, aching from a day well spent shredding Killington’s slopes, we headed outside to their giant hot tub pool, which comfortably seats up to twenty people and features a built-in fire pit.
THE BEST PLACES TO EAT AT KILLINGTON
The long ride into Killington left us with quite an appetite. We opted to grab dinner at the Wobbly Barn – a longtime local favorite featuring a restaurant in the basement and a nightclub upstairs. They’re known for their steaks so we ordered the Filet Mignon. These steaks were prepared flawlessly to our preferences and topped with a delicious chive butter. Pair one of these steaks with a Stag’s Leap Artemis and you can’t go wrong. They also have an expansive soup and salad bar for only $5 with every meal. Their featured soup of the evening, a Vermont cheddar potato soup, was excellent.
Lunch on the mountain is best had at the newly renovated and eco-conscious Peak Lodge. Situated atop the K1 summit, Peak Lodge features panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows and great views of the mountain and valley. This isn’t your typical mountainside establishment. The menu was incredibly complex with amazing dishes which we sampled in its totality.
We opted for lunch at the Peak Lodge every day we spent on the mountain, and so we were able to sample a wide selection of their small plates. You can’t go wrong with the Ahi Tuna Tacos and Truffle Fries. Our favorite drink on the menu was the Peak Bloody, which was served with bacon and shrimp. The Peak Lodge was a win on its atmosphere, service and its food. If you’re skiing Killington, make sure you stop by to dive into their great food, or even just to enjoy a brew by the fire.
For the remaining two nights we spent at Killington, we dined at Preston’s in the Killington Grand Hotel, and at the Birch Ridge Inn, a local favorite. We enjoyed the chic atmosphere at Prestons, along with their signature cheese plates, which offer a tantalizing variety of local Vermont cheeses, including a sharp cheddar and goat. Our favorite cheese plate featured a mouth-watering melted Brie cheese.
The Birch Ridge Inn is a favorite spot for locals and out-of- towners alike. Though it is conveniently situated right off the main road, it’s nestled amid the woods, giving it a quaint air. When you arrive by car, drive straight through a covered carriage driveway, which barely provides room enough for one car. At Birch Ridge, even the arrival is an exhilarating experience!
Upon arrival, we were greeted by owners Bill Vines and Mary Furlong who have been coming to Killington for over 30 years. They shared their inspiring story of how they left corporate America to build an inn that catered to the needs of the sophisticated traveler. We sampled several small plates with large flavor, including lamb chops, gnocchi, and a meatball appetizer with buffalo sauce that was excellent. The Birch Ridge provided us with a perfect ending to a fantastic Killington ski excursion.
LEARNING KILLINGTON MOUNTAIN SUSTAINABILITY
Killington is more than just a dream playground for ski and snowboard enthusiasts. The impressive ski resort is also known for their dedication to sustainability. Their mission goes well beyond satisfying customers and generating a profit. It is also to be innovative and environmentally responsible in their business practices. And they’ve been recognized for their success in these efforts.
In both 2008 and 2013, Killington’s parent company, Powdr Corp., was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for their green power purchasing. The National Ski Area Association awarded Killington resort with the Golden Eagle Award for their environmental stewardship with the Cow Power Program in 2013. And in 2014, Killington Resort received the Vermont Ski Areas Association 2014 Green Mountain Award for Environmental Excellence, named the Greenest Overall Resort in Vermont.
From installing electric vehicle charges at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel and using only recycled materials for the resort’s paper products, to grander programs like using water conservation methods in snowmaking and participating in the Cow Power program, a local and renewable energy source generated in Vermont by local dairy farms, Killington has worked hard to earn these titles while still maintaining its “beast of the east” status in winter recreation.