By Julie Brooks
Although the unseasonably warm temperatures down here on the Cape may have put thoughts of spring skiing out of your mind, it's not too late to sneak in one or two more weekends up north before you put away your skis and uncover the grill. Skiing conditions are expected to improve by next week, with colder temperatures and more snow forecasted.
I recently enjoyed a weekend of skiing with my family at one of Vermont's lesser-known mountains, Burke Mountain, located in the beautiful Northeast Kingdom area of Vermont.
Burke's less expensive lift ticket and food prices, and very short lift lines, are probably the result of its being a bit further of a drive than the rest of the resorts further south in New Hampshire and Vermont. It's actually only about a half hour's drive past Franconia Notch, NH, where Cannon Mountain is located. All in all, it takes about 5 hours, including a couple of stops, to get from the mid-Cape area to Burke. But the heaven-sent 21st century miracle of portable DVD players and headphones for the kids makes the drive not only bearable but enjoyable.
Pictured above is the brand-new high-speed quad lift, which zips you up to mid-mountain in 4 minutes and 10 seconds. Thanks to this lift and Burke's low profile, we experienced few lift lines, even on Saturday during school vacation week. And the few we did wait in were less than five minutes. This allowed us to really pack in a lot of runs in our two days of skiing.
At mid-mountain,(see view on right), you have your choice of five fantastic green slopes, which are perfect for family skiing. My kids' favorite was the Dashney Mile Terrain Park, which had bumps and a couple of jumps for snowboarding. The kids' ski school, called Bear Chasers,(pictured below) was well-organized and the kids learned more skiing in two mornings than I have in 20 years. Burke also offers snowboard classes and day care.
Burke Mountain, in the heart of Vermont's spectacular Northeast Kingdom, is conveniently located just 7 miles from exit 23 off Interstate 91, in the village of East Burke, a genuine Vermont village with a general store, great places to eat and plenty of welcoming smiles!
Eating at Burke
A modern American bistro featuring contemporary regional cuisine, The Tamarack Grill is located on the third floor of the Sherburne Base Lodge, and offers entrees between $15.95 and $19.95.
We were very pleasantly surprised by the lodge food. (See menu board pictured below.) It was about 25% cheaper than other ski resorts we had been to and the menu was varied and tasty, with healthier and veggie options done well. You can also bring your own food and eat it in the Igloo, which has nice tables.
Burke Mountain is home to Burke Mountain Ski Academy, a residential ski racing and snow sports school, which has produced more Olympic medalists than any other American ski academy. Incidentally, the Academy actually owned Burke Mountain until its recent purchase by the Ginn Company of Florida, which has plans to build a hotel, golf course, and more.
Overall, we found Burke Mountain's upper terrain to be superior to most other resorts we'd been to in recent memory, and the lower green slopes were great fun for us all to ski.
Here's hoping this gem of a mountain has an extended season of spring skiing.
Where to stay:
We stayed at nearby Inn at Mountain View in East Burke on the mountain top facing the Burke Mountain ski area. Run by Marilyn and Dr. John Pastore, the inn is one of the best in the state, and the 440 acre farm is part of a network of hiking and biking trails which Marilyn helped create. John created an animal sanctuary on the property, the only one for large abandoned farm animals in New England. The inn is worth the trip anytime of year.