STRATTON, VT — A recent trip to Stratton Mountain in Vermont was both nostalgic and rewarding and was a vivid reminder why the snow sports resort has always played a prominent role in New England.

It was a sizable gap between visits, mostly because of a transition from kidless ski bum (OK … ski writer) to the dad that had to stay local while the children perfected their skills. Smaller, regional hills had become the focus of columns and leisure trips and the young ones became enamored with the 1,000 vertical foot market.

But they always heard stories about Stratton and had been requesting a trip there over the past two or so seasons. It became time in 2024.

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The love of Stratton can be traced back to the late 1980s into the 90s when there was more cunning than skill. One confession must turn to a fake college ID that used to be accepted for a $25 lift ticket, even though I was in my late 20s and early 30s. The trick was to find the oldest lady at the ticket windows who would never question the scheme.

I even found a pair of super-stiff straight Olin 205-cm cruising skis at a shop at Stratton for $179.

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More than the bargains, though, was a true affection for the place — from Black Bear to Upper Down Easter and World Cup to goofing in front of Tommy Hilfiger’s parking spot at the club and making Stratton a regular stop on the Eastern Ski Writers Association circuit into the 2000s.

Oh yes and partying to the music of the Stratton Mountain Boys and then dinner at Rick’s Tavern down Route 30 in Newfane.

So it was with a lot of anticipation that we closed out the month of February with a trip to Stratton.

I wasn’t paying that much attention to the surroundings until we hit Brattleboro. I smiled when a saw the same gas station on the corner just before the downtown strip was still the cheapest in town and frowned when the diner that once featured prime rib hash was no more.

All good things must eventually come to an end and that included a gasp when, further up Route 30, the aforementioned Rick’s was now a cannabis dispensary. It was once famous for curing the munchies with the best pizza in Vermont and an arcade-style bowling game but now, I guess, it just causes the munchies.

Alas, arriving at Stratton was reassurance that the majesty was still there as the mountain dominated the backdrop on the access road. Better yet, it was the weekend after a peak vacation period and the crowd didn’t seem overwhelming.

It turned out that, the wait at the gondola averaged about 15 minutes all day on a Saturday, so we concentrated on that half of the mountain. The gondola line was still an opportunity to people-watch.

Mike’s Way was the essential warmup trail and, after a couple of top-to-bottom runs off that, it became an artery through which cruising trails like East and West Meadow, Janeway Junction, Interstate and Drifter were rediscovered.

Mid-mountain trails like Suntanner also quickly became kids’ favorites. The small glades there were a bit slick, but they are on the list for next time.

Stratton has evolved into a state-of-the art resort (the kids were in awe of so much lodging, and the many shops and restaurants) while maintaining the old-school charm that drew snow sports enthusiasts there in the first place.

The trails — even the double blacks — still feel welcoming and the history of bringing snowboarding to the forefront is still felt in the air. The memories of riding the lift with Tricia Byrnes (who shares the same hometown as me) and watching Shaun White perform maybe the best big-air move of all time at the U.S. open were prominent, but the overall awareness that Stratton was still a major player in the industry was soothing.

It was just great to be back at Stratton and pass down that atmosphere to another generation.

We’ll be back for sure.

For prices, a guide to lodging and amenities and a trail map, see:


Chris Dehnel is a Patch editor who has been writing about skiing and snowboarding since 1999. He is a past-president of the Eastern Ski Writers Association and a contributor to several books on the Northeast skiing and riding scene. His Snow Business column appears periodically during the season.

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