- Overall Rating 5
- Family Friendly 5
- All-Mtn. Terrain 5
- Terrain Park 4
- Nightlife 3
Pros: Great learning terrain, family friendly, tree skiing, lots of steep sections
Recommended For: Family Friendly, Empty Nesters
Date Visited: Jan 1, 2009
I will never forget skiing at Swain as long as I live. That is where I learned to ski when I was just 4 years old, and I skied there continuously until the end of high school. I go back now on occasion, but do not visit much because I am able to get sharply discounted tickets at other mountains close-by.
The beginner terrain selection is some of the best in New York State, and there are three hills served by a beginner quad lift that allow you to step up in difficulty gradually. The Lower Robinson beginner run is almost as steep as the blues there and so forth. Mile Sweep is a great easier mile-long tree-lined cruise, with a little challenge at the end. The upper section had thinned-out tres on the right side, which is a great introduction to tree skiing.
Intermediate skiers will most enjoy Clark and 80-Acres, two wide cruising trails with steep upper sections, or they can venture into three "woodsy" trails: Promenade, Dozey Doe (my favorite), and Ben Blakley, or check out the NEW "The Glade," for some good tree skiing with an easy-to-moderate pitch. There are also 6 new natural intermediate trails on the west side to be installed in the past three years, the best of which being Twister and Maverick.
About 50% of Swain's trails are rated as black-diamond, so you have a ton of possibilities. The best introduction to black diamond skiing is on Rattler, which has a steep top and bottom section with rolling terrain in between, then Old Main or Wheel's Run (home to the race course, and awesome cruising). For years as a kid, I was scared of the steep pitches of Upper Brewer and Upper Robinson's Run... so be sure to check them out for some groomed (or mogulled) steeps. Then there's Last Will, the upper section being mogulled heavily and almost never groomed, with an interesting converging double fall line that deepens as you go down (carved by water running down the middle of the hill), and then the great rolling terrain of the lower section (known as "Testament"). If you want some unmarked tree skiing that is a real challenge, try the section of woods near the top between 80-acres and Rattler, but be sure to duck in some spots. Or you can try the woods between Upper Robinson's and Upper Brewer... there's a few old zig-zagging service roads in there too that are fun.
Swain provides great skiing and riding, and has a new beginner carpet lift, 3 Quad chairs, and a double-chair affectionately knows as "Turbo," because it is fast and serves the most terrain options. The lodge has one of the best set-ups in WNY, and has a very family-oriented atmosphere.
The Zero-G terrain park is located opposite Clark on Pines, with rail features on Old Main, and some other features sometimes located on 80-Acres and Upper Robinson.
You will definitely enjoy yourself at Swain, and is the BEST place in WNY to learn to ski. And come after a snowstorm... the best skiing is on the natural trails and in the woods in my opinion.