by Martin Griff, originally published in firsttracksonline.com
Stowe, VT – Stowe Mountain Resort’s stellar reputation as a skier’s mountain was built in part upon the steep pitch of its renowned Front Four trails. A decade-long frenzy of construction at its tamer Spruce Peak base area has put the northern Vermont resort on the map as a world-class, all-season vacation destination.
True confession: I have never skied the double black foursome, but I have looked at them through a window at Front Four Private Residence Club at Spruce Peak and it’s much less intimidating than the view from the top of the trails. I’m guessing that despite lift line bravado, most snowsliders would also prefer to experience Goat, Starr, Liftline and National as a vision from the selection of comfy confines that about a half billion dollars of Stowe investment provides.
Stowe is a two-mountain experience. As one drives towards the resort, Mt. Mansfield is on the left. Mt. Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont at 4,393 feet with a skiable vertical drop of about 2,360 feet. It is the home of the “Front Four” and other challenging trails, along with a selection of intermediate trails and the 3.7-mile meandering Toll Road for beginners.
Workers in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal public relief program Civilian Conservation Corps cut trails on Mount Mansfield in 1933, putting Stowe on the map as a ski destination. Mt. Mansfield with its iconic red gondola is what one thinks of as the traditional Stowe ski experience. The Mt. Mansfield side is also where most guests park.
Spruce Peak is off to the driver’s right. It has a vertical elevation of 3.390 feet with a skiable vertical drop of about 1,830 feet. Much of that skiing is on easy and intermediate rated trails. Spruce Peak is the center of much of Stowe’s investment in high end development. Parking at Spruce Peak is for those who pony up big dollars for a spot in an underground parking garage.