So you really want to go to Sugarbush ski resort but it is two hours and 20 twenty minutes away from your ski cabin. What’s even worse, there are three other ski resorts within a twenty-five-minute drive and none of your friends shares your enthusiasm about driving along scenic Route 100 in Vermont. What do you do? Here is a step-by-step guide.

  1. Wake up early and take over a laptop or iPad.
  2. When your friends wake up–and it is best to do when they still shows signs of a slow recovery from the last night’s “Too-bad-there-are-only-24-bottles-of-beer-in-each-case” party–pretend to be exhausted from reading local snow reports.
  3. Show a facepalm or any other sign of disappointment of your choice, and in very dramatic tones explain that there is no powder anywhere within a twenty-five-minute drive.
  4. While your friends struggle to accept that they are going to ski or ride today, start packing gear to escape a “point-of-return.”
  5. Convince yourself that your brand-new navigation is badly outdated and paved zigzags called roads are nothing short of Das Autobahn; most importantly, keep the navigation screen away from the passengers until you pass a time mark when it doesn’t make any sense to make a U-turn.
  6. Enjoy the ski resort because it is totally worth a drive.

This guide has worked twice, and both times the author managed to escape the wrath of his buddies because Sugarbush ski resort delivered on its promise: “Be better here.” Though the resort is probably better situated for intermediate to advanced skiers and riders, with 111 trails and 16 lifts, Sugarbush has lots of pure Vermont skiing and snowboarding fun for all levels. Beginners should head toward the Gate House Express quad lift: it serves a couple of easy green and blue trails and seems the ideal launch pad for mastering ski turns. A black diamond trail is also marked—it’s quite easy, judging by the way a friend with intermediate skills handled it—as well as a glade to test your skills. In addition, a couple of the beginner trails are located on Mount Ellen.

If you’re comfortable on your skis or snowboard, you have many more options to explore. For starters, take the Heaven’s Gate triple lift to the top of Lincoln Peak. The views are breathtaking, and Jester is one of the best cruisers, not only at Sugarbush, but in the entire East. If you are up for serious physical exercise, I wholeheartedly recommend taking the Paradise or Ripcord double black diamond trails. The gigantic moguls, when coupled with icy crust, will push your stamina to the limit. Another good choice is Egan’s Woods, a very dense glade where you will have plenty of time but narrow spaces in which to work on ski turns. A note of caution: if you ski in wooded areas, do so with a couple of friends. It is very easy to make a wrong turn, hit a tree branch, and sink in deep snow.

If risk taking and adrenaline are must-have ingredients in your “best day” formula, head toward Castlerock Peak. If you approach it from Lincoln Peak, a very short but steep and moguled trail leads to the Castlerock double lift chair serving the area. If you can’t make it down that trail you really have no business being on that double chair—stick to intermediate trails. Once you get to the top, breathe in, breathe out, and hit the narrow, twisting trails. A couple of runs—with never-ending moguls—on that peak will be a good physical test for your legs.

If your style calls for Vermont backcountry skiing, a guided tour of Sugarbush Slide Brook Basin is a unique feature worth exploring. Not only you will test runs of more than two thousand vertical feet—all in the woods—you will also have the chance to learn about winter survival skills. And, finally, they have the only cabin cat in New England.

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