Massachusetts Ski Areas: Ranked

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Who Would Find This Useful?

Every skier has their own style. The more skilled someone is at the sport, the pickier they are likely to be when choosing slopes to shred on. I’ve been a skier since I was nine years old. Over the years, I’ve honed my craft into what it is today. What used to be fear of different challenges on the terrain is now excitement—exuberance, even. I live for steep trails, moguls, glades, terrain parks, and anything else that can make my day at the mountain feel fresh and new with each run.

Having said this, I recognize that I do not represent all skiers. If you’re a beginner or someone who just started learning, it doesn’t actually matter much at all where you decide to slap on the boots and click in the heels. Your needs are likely to be limited to a bunny hill, a good instructor, and maybe even a lower chairlift with beginner terrain access, something virtually every mountain has. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t direct anyone to this guide until they at least feel comfortable descending an intermediate trail (blue square). 

But for those like me who live in the area and are seeking the next adrenaline rush, look no further. Using an elaborate list of factors and a pragmatic point system, I have put my scrutiny forward to create the ultimate hierarchy of Massachusetts ski areas for the intermediate to expert skier.

Factors, Ratings, and the Mountains (The Boring Stuff)

To my knowledge, there are eleven ski mountains in the state of Massachusetts currently open to the public. I have been to seven of them and also to one that is now closed. I have not been to Bradford, Nashoba Valley, Otis Ridge, or Ski Ward, and unless I get an opportunity to explore these hills without a chip in my pocket or much driving, I can pretty much guarantee I’ll never go to one of these petite ski areas. So, in that respect, I don’t think it would be fair to rate these places, but I can assure without fail that they would be on the bottom of the list; they just can’t compete with the big guns. 

The factors that matter to me as a skier are as follows: vertical drop, skiable acreage, the presence of a high-speed chair, overall snow conditions, the quality and quantity of glades, the quality and quantity of moguls, the quality and size of terrain parks (if any), steepness, chairlift count, and ticket prices. The only other factor I could think of that could have an impact on some folk’s choosing is whether or not a mountain has night skiing. For me, however, I’m not likely to ski for a whole day and night at a resort, so one or the other suffices. 

For quantifiable statistics, I cross-referenced the ski area’s website, Wikipedia, and On the Snow’s database, a website denoted for ski mountain stats, to obtain the most ideal consensus for this ranking. For “weekday ticket prices” (I used weekday because this is usually when I ski), I used the prices that would be charged to me if I were to go skiing the following day of my research. Some mountains charge customers an extra fee for the card scanned at the gates (get rid of ticket-checking employees, make customers pay for the new system—how could they go wrong?). This was included in the price.

Each factor was given a rating of 1-10, depending on the quality and presence of that factor. For vertical drop, I denoted a point for every 100’ starting at 200’. For example, if a mountain has a vertical of 678’, then it would receive a 5, one unit down from the century. For skiable acreage, I allowed a point for every 20 squared feet starting at 20-40. Mountains either have a high-speed chair or they don’t, and with this, they could either earn a slim 0 or a fat 10. Some may wonder why this factor has so much impact, to which I can assure you this chair can be the difference between getting ten runs in or twenty in a given period. The more skiing there is in a session, the better.

For ticket prices, any price under $100 was given a score of at least 2, with one point given for every additional decade under 90. Chairlift count was scored in a relatively straight-forward manner; the quantity of chairlifts is the score. This excludes chairs that I have never seen function. Carpets and tows do not count. Overall snow conditions, steepness, terrain parks, glades, and moguls were all scored intuitively rather than meticulously.

Last to note, I was originally using the measurement of trail count rather than skiable acreage to account for how spacious each mountain is, but I soon came to find this statistic stands for nothing but a skew to genuine data. For example, Butternut and Bousquet claim to have the same amount of trails despite how much bigger Butternut seems to be.

For this reason, I threw away this stat and added in skiable acreage instead. This still wasn’t perfect as it seemed some mountains overclaimed, listed their plot acreage as skiable acreage, or had acreage accounting for trails that have not been open in years. With this, I pulled the intuition back out of my pocket from the non-quantifiable statistics to give an “allowed” acreage based on my experience and comparison to the other mountain’s claims. 

Anyhow—enough with the gibberish. Let’s get to it.

The List

7. Blue Hills

Massachusetts Ski
Photo by r/Boston (Reddit) from Blue Hills summit

Location: Canton

Founded: 1935

Times Gone: 10(ish)

Vertical: 309’ (2)

Skiable Acreage: 60 (3)

Chairlift Count: (1)      

High-Speed Chair: No (0) 

Overall Snow Conditions: (5)

Steepness: (6)

Weekday Ticket Price: $40 (7)

Moguls: (2)

Terrain Park: (2)

Glades: (1)

Overall Score: 29

Truthfully, I would have likely never tied the pass onto my jacket from this quaint, little hill if it were not for my family ties. My brother worked as a cashier in the lounge for a few years before my Mom started working in the kitchen she now manages. I’ve even helped them out and have worked a handful of shifts myself. I have nothing bad to say, really, it’s just a tiny mountain. 

Blue Hills conservation area is a 7,000 acre collection of protected hills about seven miles directly south of downtown Boston. Of the 22 peaks within, Great Blue Hill stands the highest at 635′ with an observation tower at the top and the base of the ski area 350’ feet below. The skiing plot occupies the western face of the hill. A jaw-dropping view of Boston’s skyline is to be seen from the summit, perhaps one of my favorite views from atop a skiing mountain. 

Only one double seated chairlift is needed to give skiers access to this 60-acre plot, and no, it’s not high speed. Management does a fair job maintaining the snow. The terrain park is minimal, and some light glades can be found on the southern edge of Beer’s Bluff when it’s open. The mountain serves a metropolitan area of a major city, so $40 for a weekday pass is to be expected. I do have a soft spot for this mountain, and I think it’s rooted in the surprising punch that Big Blue and Beer’s Bluff pack in, both mimicking black diamonds of a more legitimate mountain. With a good snow, you can expect Big Blue’s northern edge to be carved with moguls.

6. Blandford (Currently Closed)

Massachusetts Ski

Location: Blandford

Founded: 1936

Times Gone: 10(ish)

Vertical: 465’ (3) 

Skiable Acreage: 132—90 Allowed (4)

Chairlift Count: (2)

High-Speed Chair: No (0) 

Overall Snow Conditions: (6) 

Steepness: (5) 

Weekday Ticket Prices: $20 (9) 

Moguls: (1)

Terrain Park: (1) 

Glades: (2)

Overall Score: 33

A staple to the Springfield metropolitan area for 84 years, it was hard to see this place close down in 2020. Operated by the Springfield Ski Club until 2017, this mountain holds the surprising award for the longest club-ran ski area in North America. For skiers like me who reside in the Westfield area, this mountain’s fifteen-minute drive proximity solidified it as a go-to mountain. Springfield ski club sold the mountain to Ski Butternut in 2017, and because of how close the purchase was to the start of the season, they were not able to bring things to code for opening until the next year. 

I bought a season pass that year of re-opening, and as much as I liked the mountain, I was disappointed to never see North Chair open. I returned the following year to work as an instructor, and not to my surprise, nothing had changed. North Chair appropriately gives access to the north side of the mountain and much of the intermediate to advanced terrain. I was lucky enough to bushwhack these trails only after a good snow storm on one instance. So, if I had to guess, I would say this failure to stay open was surely rooted in the “curse of North Chair,” if you will. 

This chair was not counted in it’s score nor was the acreage it gives access to. The mountain as a whole was relatively moderate, not packing in anything too crazy. Management did a decent job at keeping up with the snow conditions, and the prices were more than reasonable. With the hold this place had on the city, a wise investor may be the only thing that stands between this mountain staying closed and it’s resurgence. Expect Blandford to open back up in the next five years, and if North Chair is fixed, expect it to stay open.

5. Bousquet

Massachusetts Ski

Location: Pittsfield

Founded: 1932

Times Gone: 10(ish)

Vertical: 750’ (6) 

Skiable Acreage: 200—100 allowed (5)

Chairlift Count: (2)

High-Speed Chair: No (0)

Overall Snow Conditions: (6)

Steepness: (7) 

Weekday Ticket Price: $24 (9) 

Moguls: (1)

Terrain Park: (3)

Glades: (4)

Overall Score: 43

You can accredit all the times I’ve been to this historical landmark in Pittsfield (and probably a lot of other people too) to their unbeatable $10 all night skiing deal on Thursdays. Bousquet gives the feel of a small mountain such as Blue Hills but packs in the legitimacy of a medium-sized mountain with a 750’ vertical and notable pitch.

Bousquet claims more skiable acreage than any of the other mountains on this list, which bothered me quite a bit. There’s just no way this can be possible. Even with Jewett, Folly, and West Grand, trails I’ve never seen open, it only takes a quick glance at a map to see Jiminy is at least twice the size of Bousquet (Ské, as we’ve learned to call it). Generously, I allowed them 100 acres. Their middle chair has yet to move an inch in my sight, and I suspect it’s no longer in operation. This was also omitted from the data.

Grand Slalom, the main trail under western lift, provides a promising pitch, and as appropriate to its name, slaloms are often left out from the racing team for freestyle skiers to toy with. They have a modest terrain park, their prices are fair, and with a good eye you can likely find some inconspicuous glades and moguls. The snow maintenance is good, although I’ve found it to be mostly concentrated to the western side.

4. Catamount

Massachusetts Ski

Location: Hillsdale, NY

Founded: 1939

Times Gone: 1

Vertical: 1,000’ (9) 

Skiable Acreage: 119 (5)

Chairlift Count: (4) 

High-Speed Chair: No (0)

Overall Snow Conditions: (8)

Steepness: (9)

Weekday Ticket Price: $40 (7)

Moguls: (4) 

Terrain Park: (3) 

Glades: (3)

Overall Score: 52

A Massachusetts mountain in New York? But how? Contrary to what some may believe, the mountains came before the people who threw imaginary borders over them. This geographical anomaly is split almost symmetrically between New York and Massachusetts. It’s the last major mountain in the state I went to, and only recently did I finally get there. Even up until a few days ago, I was sure this area had a Massachusetts address, and I was disheartened to find New York actually claims this postal entity. But half the mountain is in The Commonwealth, therefore it is in Massachusetts, and so it counts to me. 

“I can’t believe how windy it is!” I think I said fifteen times on the frigid January day. And it’s true; the trails at Catamount are more sinuous as a whole than at any other mountain I’ve been to, gravitating me to hug the edges of these paths with each turn.

With a cruise down Ridge-Run to Mountain-View, you can switchback in a way foreign to most other mountains, the latter trail often becoming a black tunnel on otherwise sunny days. They have an adequate variety of chairlift access, their snow conditions are up to par with Berkshire East and Jiminy, their prices are a bit higher than their competitor down the road at Butternut, and their double black-diamond trails offer an intimidating pitch that I was not able to try myself due to insufficient snow levels.

3. Wachusett

Massachusetts Ski

Location: Princeton

Founded: 1969

Times Gone: 30(ish)

Vertical: 1,006’ (9) 

Skiable Acreage: 110 (5)

Chairlift Count: (3)

High-Speed Chair: Yes (10) 

Overall Snow Conditions: (8)

Steepness: (7)

Weekday Ticket Price: $62 (5)

Moguls: (5)

Terrain Park: (6)

Glades: (2)

Overall Score: 60

You’ve probably heard of this one. This 2000’ mountain’s isolation gives it a complete monopoly over central and eastern Massachusetts, eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire. Going six times a winter with my high school’s ski club, I learned to ski here.

A family-friendly mountain, Wachusett ties Butternut with a clean score of 60. The vertical is remarkable for its location, the acreage is abundant, the snow is maintained well, and a rugged skier’s needs can be filled with its occasional glades and moguls. Wachusett has a professional standard terrain park, but users need to pay a fee, sign a waiver, and watch a safety video to use it. There is a free alternative, but it’s jumps and rails just don’t compare. It’s relatively steep, but not to the level of double black-diamonds. The Polar Express quad is high-speed, something that may make up for their high prices. I have no doubt this is the most trafficked ski area in the state.

3. Butternut

Massachusetts Ski

Location: Great Barrington

Founded: 1963

Times Gone: 15(ish)

Vertical: 1000’ (9)  

Skiable Acreage: 100 (5)

Chairlift Count: (5)

High-Speed Chair: No (0) 

Overall Snow Conditions: (10)

Steepness: (6)

Weekday Ticket Price: $25 (9)

Moguls: (3)

Terrain Park: (9) 

Glades: (4)

Overall Score: 60

Butternut holds a coveted spot in my heart. This timeless mountain advertises as your “family friendly” ski area, and this may be an understatement. Upon my dissatisfaction with my job instructing at Blandford in the winter of 2019-2020, I decided to take on being a lift operator here instead. The staff are affable, friendly, and quick to assist anyone in need. Many of them are well known for their long-time stints at this welcoming getaway.  

The vertical and acreage is nearly identical to that of Wachusett. No remarkably steep slopes can be found, but I suppose this ties in well with the “family friendly” clause. As snow layers over the season, some moguls and accessible glades can be found. Their terrain park is a blast and is even extended to the western edge of Cruiser. With five chairlifts total and four of them giving way to the main mountain, skiers won’t get bored appeasing to one starting point. Their $25 weekday deal is unbeatable and has me going back time after time.

Most notable of all is their unmatched ability to keep up with the snow. No matter the weather, they always seem to find a way to keep the terrain smooth and forgiving. I appraise them for this, and with the killer weekday deal, this certainly makes up for the pitch and high-speed chair at Wachusett.

2. Berkshire East

Massachusetts Ski

Location: Charlemont

Founded: 1953

Times Gone: 2

Vertical: 1,180’ (10)

Acreage: 180 (9)

Chairlift Count: (4) 

High-Speed Chair: No (0) 

Overall Snow Conditions: (9)

Steepness: (9)

Weekday Ticket Prices: $45 (7)

Moguls: (10) 

Terrain Park: (3)

Glades: (10)

Overall Score: 71

Located in the northeastern corner of Berkshire County, this mountain is a rugged skier’s Disney World. I recently went after a fresh snow storm, and I would’ve been shocked to find there was a single square inch not covered in pristine, fluffy snow. Moguls are formed wherever possible, and glades fill each and every corner of the wooded plots. Bike trails intended for summer use also serve as inadvertent glades, allowing even children a taste of these unique trails. Also offering downhill mountain biking, treehouse tours, a zipline, a mountain coaster, and white-water rafting in the Deerfield River, Berkshire East (often compressed to “Beast”) is a mecca for outdoor recreation of all seasons in the Berkshires. 

Beast has the highest vertical of all eleven public mountains. The prices are reasonable, and management does a decent job looking after the snow. Not much of a terrain park is to be found, however.

  1. Jiminy Peak
Massachusetts Ski

Location: Lanesboro

Founded: 1948

Times Gone: 2

Vertical: 1,150’ (10) 

Skiable Acreage: 170 (8)  

Chairlift Count: (7) 

High-Speed Chair: Yes (10) 

Overall Snow Conditions: (8)

Steepness: (9) 

Weekday Ticket Price: $89 (3)

Moguls: (7)

Terrain Park: (5) 

Glades: (7)

Overall Score: 74

And the drumroll…Jiminy takes the cake. I think this is the general consensus among skiers. Jiminy is the closest a mountain in Massachusetts can be to one of northern New England. It’s a tad bigger than Beast and has the luxury of a high-speed chair that so many mountains in southern New England lack. If Wachusett and Berkshire East had a baby, I imagine it would come out resembling something of Jiminy. 

I’ve only been to this mountain twice, but each time was merry as can be, even if the higher prices have deterred me from going more than once in a season. The Berkshire Express lift will keep you on the snow as much or even more than you’re on the chair, and the trails provide a near perfect symbiosis of pitch, glades, and moguls. If you’re a tree hugger like me, you’ll be pleased to know 33% of their energy is created from their windmill, and if you want to grasp the reality of how enormous these turbines really are, take a swoop down Outback. Any skier who lives near this area needs to give it a visit.

Final Thoughts

These are all public mountains, meaning a simple exchange of currency and something at least imitating skis or a snowboard on your feet will get you up the lift. There are other established ski areas without this feature such as Greylock Ski-Club and Eaglebrook Ski School in Deerfield. These areas are for purposes beyond monetization, however, and I’m not likely to ever traverse them. But who knows how these slopes would compare? I certainly don’t.   

To reiterate, every skier skis differently and has different preferences. This hierarchy was created with what I look for in a mountain, which may not be what you want. And even if it is, keep in mind that this list is still subjective to my experience. Obviously, I can give a more accurate analysis to mountains I have been to more times, and if you took a good look at this list, you probably also noticed I’ve been to Jiminy Peak, Berkshire East, and Catamount much less than the others. Regardless of the variables, there aren’t really any other lists like this on the internet, so here is a good place to start, no matter who you are.

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Published by Nicholas J. Devlin

I'm a freelance writer from western Massachusetts. Horror, comedy, and all the unholy things my parents told me to stay away from are my favorite. Oh and I like the outdoors.

4 thoughts on “Massachusetts Ski Areas: Ranked

  1. Pretty fair but I would add one more category. Crowds/lift lines. This factor tremendously effects the experience. I’ve skied Jiminy and Berkshire East a lot. The crowds at Jiminy keeps me away. Frequent Long lift lines and crowded slopes. Very rare at Berkshire East. Also Berkshire East is in Franklin and not Berkshire Co. The Eaglebrook ski area is run and known as a school not a club. I’ts club though has the 2nd longest running winter carnival in the country next to Dartmouth.

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