This East Coast Mountain Has 155 Trails, a Massive Vertical Drop, and Its Own Half Pipe

It's not nicknamed "The Beast of the East" for nothing.

<p>Wirestock/Getty Images</p>

Wirestock/Getty Images

Killington Ski Resort in Vermont more than earns the nickname “Beast of the East.” After all, it’s home to the second-highest summit across the entire Green Mountain range. But that’s not its only superlative. It’s also the largest ski resort on the East Coast, with six mountain peaks, 21 lifts, 155 trails, a half-pipe, and the highest vertical drop in New England at 3,050 feet. It also has some of the most sophisticated snowmaking in the state, allowing it to open earlier and close later than other ski areas in the region. But hang on, because there’s more.

Killington is also famous for its après-ski scene and boisterous nightclubs, making it a popular weekend destination for skiers from the Tri-State area and beyond. As a native New Yorker, I’ve been to Killington numerous times over the years, and was eager to see how the resort had changed. During my visit in December, I was glad to see lots of on-mountain improvements, including a modern new K-1 Lodge and faster gondolas. But I was also heartened to see that Killington still prides itself on its nightlife and that all the venerable clubs were still packed with snow pant-wearing revelers on weekends.

  • The biggest ski resort in the Northeast, with powdery terrain that appeals to beginners, experts, and everything in between.

  • The king of snowmaking in New England, thanks to huge improvements in recent years.

  • Epic après-ski scene. The main access road is lined with lively restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

Indeed, Killington sits about 3 hours from Boston and 4-½ hours from Manhattan — there are even day-trip buses that depart from Union Square before dawn. But, Those who stay longer will be rewarded with some 1,509 skiable acres of diverse terrain, no shortage of places to grab a drink with family and friends, and a sister mountain – Pico – located just 10 minutes by car, with an additional 58 trails to zip down. Here’s how you can plan a fantastic trip of your own.

When to Go

It didn’t seem that long ago when Killington was reliably blanketed in snow by the holiday season. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case in a few years. However, the best snow conditions typically come between late January through March, when mother nature and snowmaking machines combine to work their magic.

Where to Stay

Killington Grand Resort Hotel: This is the only full-service hotel on the mountain, a quick walk across the ski bridge to the Snowshed Lodge. While not super luxurious, the Killington Grand Resort Hotel has a large heated outdoor pool, two hot tubs, a gym, and a spa. The 532 units (which are privately owned and rented out by Killington) are styled in a traditional mountain aesthetic and vary in size from two-person studios to a 10-person penthouse with an in-room sauna.

Mountain Inn Killington: About one minute away by complimentary shuttle is the Mountain Inn Killington,  a modern rustic hotel with a liquor distillery, a cozy bar and restaurant, and a heated outdoor pool. The clean and functional rooms have shiplap headboards, bedside lamps with USB chargers, and, in some cases, mountain-view terraces. Continental breakfast is included, and pets are welcome. Depending on how much gear you have, it’s also close enough to walk to the base lift.   

Killington Mountain Lodge: If you want more breathing room, the Killington Mountain Lodge, part of the Hilton’s Tapestry Collection, is less than 2 miles away. The pet-friendly hotel has a handsome lobby with a stone fireplace, vintage ski decor, a 20-person outdoor hot tub, a well-equipped gym, and plush lounge areas for reading or playing board games. The 102 rooms are modern and bright.

Where to Eat

There are dozens of restaurants in Killington, mainly serving American staples like burgers and meatloaf in a tavern-like space. Here are two standouts.

The Foundry at Summit Pond: This is arguably the best-looking restaurant in town, housed in an old post-and-beam structure that sits on a lake. The dining room is rustic and romantically lit, with wrought iron chandeliers and aged wood floors. The food at the Foundry at Summit Pond gets high marks, too, with elevated American fare like a beet salad with burrata, tuna tartare, rabbit stew, and rack of lamb. There is an extensive wine list and an assortment of Vermont craft beers.

The Garlic: The Garlic bills itself as a tapas and martini bar, but there’s nothing small about the portions at this upscale Tuscan-inspired tavern. The chicken parmigiano and pasta specials are enormous, and it’s not unusual to see diners leaving with doggie bags. The pub-like atmosphere is festive and warm, with garlic braids hanging everywhere.

Where to Après Ski

It’s no secret that Killington likes to party. The apres ski-to-pub crawl is an honored tradition here, and with nightclubs closing as late as 2 a.m. on weekends, don’t expect huge lift lines on Sunday mornings.

Mogul’s Sports Pub: Pool tables, cheap beer, crinkled dollar bills thumbtacked to the walls – Mogul’s is the quintessential ski-town dive bar. The parking lot fills up early with skiers looking to grab a pint (or two) before dinner. If you get stuck here, the BBQ pulled pork sandwich is a local favorite.

Pickle Barrel: You haven’t experienced Killington nightlife without going to the Pickle Barrel. Spread out over floors, four bars, and two stages, the party has been raging here since the 1960s. Expect fun-loving crowds, long lines, and spilled drinks.

Wobbly Barn: A short hop away is the town’s other nightclub mainstay: The Wobbly Barn. Owned by Killing on Resort, the venue packs them in with live bands and DJs on weekends. It also has a terrific steakhouse on the lower level that gets rowdier as the night progresses.

Off-mountain Activities

Ride a snowmobile: Speed across snow without having to strap on skis. Snowmobile Vermont offers one-hour, two-hour, and kid-friendly tours around Killington with a fleet of high-tech Polaris models. Helmets and boots are provided; warm snowsuits are available for an extra fee.

Go tubing: Who says tubing is only for kids? Race your friends at Killington Tubing Park, located across East Mountain Road from the base lodge and resort. Tubing sessions are one hour long and can be booked in advance.

Get a massage: Rejuvenate your sore muscles at Spa of the Woods, a full-service wellness center with a well-equipped gym, dry sauna, eucalyptus steam room, indoor pool, and hot tub. An assortment of treatments are available, including a Himalayan salt massage and acupuncture.

How to Ride

Tickets: Ikon passes are accepted (no reservations required), and a variety of season passes are available. Day passes for the 2023/2034 winter season start at $136.

Rentals: There are numerous ski and snowboard rental shops along Killington Road and on the mountain (though you’ll pay extra for that convenience). If you’re driving east along Route 4, the First Stop Board Barn stays open till midnight on Fridays, takes online reservations, and will even deliver the equipment to your hotel or condo. If you’re driving the other way, Killington Sports has an extensive selection of the latest 4D goggles, MIPS helmets, and other top-notch accessories (but no gear).

Parking: Free parking is available at all the base lodges. On weekends and peak days, there is preferred parking at K-1 and valet parking at Snowshed for $40.

Skiing and Snowboard Info

Mountain Stats: Killington has 21 lifts serving 155 trails spread across 1,509 skiable acres. A large number of trails (17 percent) are marked for beginners (green), 40 percent are marked more difficult (blue), and 43 percent are most difficult (black diamond). There are also several terrain parks and an 18-foot modified halfpipe later in the season.

Lessons: There are lessons for all ages (children as young as 2 to adults), skill levels (first timers to advanced), and programs (groups, private and specialty camps, such as learning how to master moguls).

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