Pricing, Trail Variety, No Lines, Atmosphere
Lift Speed/Arrangement, Food, Lack of Multiple (+2) Day Pricing
A family friend with 20+ different mountains under his belt described Belleayre as the best overall option for nearby skiing when comparing it to Wyndham and Hunter, the other two mid-sized mountains near NYC and Westchester County. We had never tried any of the three, opting to go to either Southern VT or Gore/Whiteface most of the time. We decided to start with Belleayre this year, given the drive is just about 2 hours (mindful of speed limits) from Northern Westchester.
We have already gone to Belleayre twice this month and I have to say we are positively impressed with the experience. The mountain offers something for every skiing level, except the top experts and those looking for the next most difficult trail.
Variety of Trails. Nice split between beginner and intermediate trails. Most of the beginner trails are at the bottom of the mountain, while the Superchief lift would take you to the intermediate terrain on the left. The right side of the mountain (seen from the bottom) has nice challenging terrain. Moving to the right side at the top is hard. Best to go down to Lift 7, and then up from there. Then, for moving further left, ski down to the Tomahawk lift, and spend a nice day on the more challenging terrain there.
Conditions. They are always a function of what you experience in those few skiing days. We had a lot of snow in the days before, so everything was well-covered. So well that it got really powdery on Friday, after 6 inches of snow during the day. Aside from that, it appears the mountain is well groomed, snow guns cover a vast majority of the mountain, and there are some natural trails, which also cater to the expert crowd.
Lodging. Nearby options available, if you are willing to go farther, say 45 min, you can venture into Woodstock for 60s surroundings or Kingston, former NY capital, where all the convenience hotels, fast food restaurants, supermarkets, and shopping are.
Staff. Everyone seemed nice. I know, this should not make or break your experience, but a nice smile is always preferred to a grumpy noise.
Pricing. The pricing at this mountain is unbeatable for families, when staying in the area. With the promotion 1 adult pays 1 kid (up to 17yrs) skis free available from the area lodging association, for $54 on holidays two people ski. Have not seen anything comparable for a mountain this size. You stay one night and you can get a voucher for two days. Even cheaper if it is not a weekend nor holiday.
Atmosphere. Very relaxed. No lines at lifts (were were there in the middle of Presidents' Week), maybe Superchief gets a bit of traffic, but when it is stopped for some mechanical issue, which I assume is not that infrequent since in 3 days we saw it go down twice, once for 10-15 min and the second time for a few hours in the morning. Crowd seems a combo of locals, families, college students, most low key. No pushing around at all.
Lift Speed/Arrangement. Seems the design could be improved, since there is a lot of traffic at Superchief and almost none at Tomahawk. Also, there is too much walking to be done at the top to get to the other side of the mountain. Gives the impression to be an inverted mountain in its layout, with many trails generated at the top, landing in fewer at the intermediate lodge. Just look at the map. Something needs to be thought about communicating the trails at the top in a better fashion. Lift speed is not great, but I should also say that since there are no lines, this is minor issue, the arrangement is more worrisome.
Food. Pretty standard cafeteria fare. Greasy. Too bready. A lot of fat. Expensive as well. Seems a constant at every mountain. I wonder why we are not seeing a better food offering at these cafeterias that matches how are consumption patterns are changing... Which is also easier to prepare... Food for thought... No pun intended! As of today, you are best served bringing your own lunch despite the hassle, or be prepared for what you are going to get.
Multiple Day Tickets. Any idea why the system cannot do more than 2 days at a time? I wonder that too....
Nighlife in Area. None. This is a State Park, so you will need to go to neighboring towns for that.
Overall, a great experience close to home. Can ask for more.