Incredible terrain, friendly culture, fanatical following
Aging infrastructure, parking
I've skied at Hickory since I was a teenager (yes, that would be a long time ago!) and even after skiing all over the Northeast and the Rockies, it is still one of my very favorite places to go. Now, after a five year hiatus, the mountain is re-opening with an influx of capital from an investment partner to perform some much needed maintenance and put in some upgrades that will modernize the area without detracting from its unique character. I have spent one day each of the last 5 weekends up at Hickory clearing trails to prepare for the season and the mountain is looking good! And, in the interest of full disclosure, I am also a longtime and continuing shareholder (that would be 1 stock certificate) from the days when buying a share entitled the holder to special pricing on season passes. I am not, however, an authorized representative of the area, nor do I get any compensation from them other than the vouchers provided to work day volunteers.
The area really caters to beginners who can enjoy the gentle slopes serviced by the T-bar at the bottom of the mountain, and the expert, die-hard, adrenaline junkies who tackle the challenges of Winfall, The Hare, Jackrabbit, Topnotch and Grand Teton up top. This mountain is not for the faint of heart! Just riding the upper mountain surface tows is not like anything else you are likely to experience.
Both poma lifts are high-speed tows, with detachable sticks. Poma 1 is manageable by beginning intermediate skiers, but few riders make their first trip up without incident. The attendant pulls the lever, clamping the stick onto the cable flying up the mountain above you. The stick pulls rapidly away, the spring inside the two hollow sections stretches out, and then, lift off! New riders often end up sprawled in the snow after travelling a surprising 10' or so in the air. Once you figure out the take off, the trip up to the top is fast and there is a midpoint off-loading ramp for intermediate skiers not ready for the steep bumps of Jackrabbit or Topnotch, and expert skiers looking to get quickly over to Poma 2.
While Poma 1 will get you from the base lodge up to the bottom of the Hare, Poma 2 starts at the bottom of Winfall and takes you up to the top of the mountain to access Winfall, The Hare and Ridge Run. Only advanced intermediates should attempt to ride Poma 2. Not only is the take off more challenging than Poma 1, the ride straight up Winfall requires good balance and strength. And, if you should fall before the top, the only way down is Winfall, a very steep, rugged bumpy trail.
While there are plans to put in snowmaking and a chair lift, I'll be happy to have the pomas run reliably, a real issue in the last years the area was open. The new management has made maintanence and improvements for the existing tows a priority for this season.
Bumps, rocks, logs, stumps, trees, steeps!!! What's not to love about this place!! Simply an incredible place to ski for those that are up to the challenge.