A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
If you have the urge for a day, night or even weekend trip to the ski and snowboard slopes, but you’re not up for the drive to the Berkshires, Adirondacks or Green Mountains of Vermont, just stay close to home. You have several choices of modest-sized ski areas in the Nutmeg state. You have four choices these days, but an old favorite is expected to make a comeback down the line.
Connecticut ski areas most certainly don’t offer the vertical drops and skiable terrain that those to the north do, but they are family-friendly, welcoming, well lit at night and worth your time to feed your ski and ride habit virtually in your backyard.
The ski areas are all within an easy drive of the major cities of Stanford, New Haven and Hartford so choosing to ski and snowboard day or night or both won’t make much difference.
Walter Schoenknecht, the visionary behind Vermont's Mount Snow, created Mohawk Mountainin the Southern Berkshires, near Torrington (a bit over an hour’s drive from Hartford). This is the oldest and largest ski area in Connecticut, and has dubbed itself "the home of snowmaking." That moniker, by the way, is claimed by a good dozen ski resorts across the country. But Walter was indeed an early adapter and tinkerer.
Schoenknecht was a snowmaking pioneer and already was figuring out how to make snow in 1948. The resort's 24 trails all are covered by snowmaking today, and most of them are available for night skiing. Mohawk is a private corporation working in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection at Mohawk State Park. Mohawk State Forest has cross-country trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at the top of the mountain but are not maintained or connected with the ski area.
Mohawk's summit is 1,600 feet above sea level, and affords a vertical drop of 650 feet, with the longest trail 1.25 miles. A triple, four doubles and a carpet provide access to the area's trails, 95 percent of them covered by snowmaking over the ski area’s 107 acres of skiable terrain.
Ski Sundown is is located in New Hartford, about 45 minutes away from its namesake. The resort was one of the first to welcome snowboarding in 1984. There are 15 trails, 14 of them lit for night skiing, and all covered by snowmaking.
Tom's Treat, the easiest trail, also is the longest, at one mile. Vertical drop from the 1,075-foot-high summit is 625 feet. Sundown also has two terrain parks, Stinger and Sensation. The trail network is served by three triple chairs, a double, and a conveyor. Sundown is smaller than Mohawk, offering sliding on 65 acres of terrain.
Mount Southington in Plantsville is about a 30-minute drive from Hartford or New Haven, at Exit 30 off I-84. The area has 14 trails and an alpine park, with 51 skiable acres of terrain, two double chairs, two T-bars, two handle tows and a carpet. Vertical drop is 425 feet from Mt. Southington's 525-foot summit. There is 100 percent snowmaking and all trails are lit for night skiing. Southington has long welcomed racers to the mountain and hosts a variety of racing teams, training programs and competitions.
Powder Ridge in Middlefield has an up and down financial history, having closed after the 2008 season but re-opened in 2013. Still, it had long been one of the area’s most popular places to ski and ride because of its proximity between New Haven and Hartford. The ski area has a respectable vertical drop of 500 feet and there are 15 well-groomed trails served by three chairs. The skiable terrain is 80 acres. Snowmaking is good all over the mountain and night skiing is very popular. The park features not only skiing and snowboarding, but also snow tubing and a terrain park. There are plenty of year-round activities, too.
Woodbury Ski Area is an interesting story. It’s a very small ski area in Litchfield County. But, it’s been closed since 2016. Happier days for skiers and riders may well lay ahead as the area was acquired by Quassy Amusement Park, a Connecticut institution that’s been operating for more than a century. The current owners plan to bring back the ski area’s original name – Tapawingo – and plan to operate a tubing hill this winter, with skiing and riding in the near future. Just not yet.
There are five resorts in the state of Connecticut: Mohawk in Cornwall, Ski Sundown in New Hartford, Mt. Southington in Southington, Powder Ridge in Middlefield, Woodbury in Woodbury. Woodbury is closed as a ski area, but plans a reopening in the next few years under new ownership.
Mohawk Mountain Ski Resort is Connecticut’s largest ski resort and is known as the best of what Connecticut skiing has to offer.
Ski season generally starts later at Connecticut ski resorts than in the northern New England states, but most of the Nutmeg State’s ski resorts are equipped with snowmakers that will make up for lighter snowfall. Along with skiing, many resorts offer fun activities that the entire family will enjoy year-round. Good enough for your next family ski vacation?
Sure, you can. Connecticut is an ideal destination for snowboarding as well as other winter sports activities such as downhill and cross-country skiing and tubing.
As far as the rest of the New England states are concerned, Connecticut has the most temperate climate. The winter, marked by daily high temperatures below 46°F, stretches from early December until early to mid-March. The coldest month is January.
Cornwall is known as “Home of the Covered Bridge. ” It is a quiet little town in northwest Connecticut that is home to Mohawk Mt. The West Cornwall Covered Bridge is still in service today.Shops you may enjoy include the Wish House for products by local artisans, Michael Trapp’s antiques and architectural fragments, pottery and many more. Visit Suzie’s Bakery for homemade sweets.
Weathersfield was founded in 1633-34 and earned its name of “Ye Most Ancient Town.” Quiet streets, with brick-paver sidewalks shaded by mature trees set the scene here. You’d never know you were just a snowball’s throw from busy I-91 and close to Mount Southington and Powder Ridge Ski Areas. Try pizza and ice cream at Village Pizza and the Main Street Creamery; orLucky Lou’sthat occupies a renovated Colonial, complete with a bar where Red Sox and Yankee memorabilia live side by side. Maybe the only place.
Four Connecticut ski areas (Mohawk, Sundown, Mt. Southington, Powder Ridge) are located in the western half of the state and all are within a short distance of major interstates (I-95, I-84, I-91) and each other. Bradley International Airport provides easy access via a number of air carriers. Still, the good old automobile is your best bet.
Connecticut’s few ski areas are cherished by those who live here as they give residents the chance to ski and ride at times that are convenient without having to make the several hour jaunt north. You may not “live” at one of these ski areas, but you certainly can play here for a while.