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March 26, 2015

A well-kept secret and a fun feeder hill

By Karen D. Lorentz

On March 3, I discovered a hill I had never skied. Not the biggest nor the steepest but simply one of the best experiences and a definite ego boost.

I was part of a journalists’ trip to visit Vermont’s smaller and mid-sized ski areas and on this day, they had fired up the quad chair just for us!

Due to “operator error” on my part (tired legs and not remembering how to ski in five inches of powder in flat light), the snow snakes got me twice the day before and my ego was a little bruised. But Tuesday March 3 was divine as we were treated to “hero snow” groomed to corduroy perfection, a sunny day, and cruising heaven.

Where were we? The Quechee Ski Area.

Never heard of it? I’m not surprised, but I bet you’ve seen it if you’ve ever traveled Route 4 from Rutland or Woodstock to I-89 or New Hampshire.

We passed it for years and the sunny south-facing slopes always intrigued me. I even put the area on my bucket list when I learned it was open to the public, but I just never got there. Now I look forward to meeting the kids and grandkids there. What a great family area!

Good to know

Quechee does a mighty fine job of snowmaking and grooming. The 100 acres of skiable terrain have 100 percent snowmaking with daily machine grooming (in summer grooming is by cows). Quechee is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays so without traffic midweek, conditions remain amazingly good throughout cold winters.

The area features easy black diamonds (bragging rights for wannabe experts), plenty of blues, and a learners’ area with handle tow. Plus there’s a T-Bar and adjacent practice slope.

The vertical is 650 feet with most trails and slopes having consistent pitches, which is particularly nice in my book. There are open glades for the intermediate skier and even a terrain park!

The ski area was private when opened for the 1970-1971 season, but in the mid-1980s it opened to the public, with blackout dates. However, when the Quadzilla chairlift replaced a double chair in 2005, they eliminated the blackout dates.

While the members of the Quechee Lakes Club (a landowners/homeowners association, not a country club) regularly use the ski hill as one of the many amenities available to them, it remains mostly undiscovered by the general public.

There is a base lodge with rec center for kids, three floors of seating, food service, and ski shop. Alpine, snowboard, and cross-country group and private lessons are available, along with rental equipment. On weekends, free sleigh rides are offered from the base lodge to the lifts.

There are 12 km of groomed cross-country trails on the golf course and another 15 km of groomed trails in the wooded wilderness area for more advanced cross-country skiers or snowshoers. There’s no fee for Nordic trail use, so if you have a large family or group that wants to do different things, the area can accommodate you nicely, with rentals available at the base lodge. There’s also an ice skating pond and sledding hill open to the public with no fee.

There are lots of events from torchlight parades to cardboard box derbies, with an emphasis on fun for families.

Reasons to discover Quechee now

This is a great time of year to start a youngster (or anyone) out on snow. It’s warmer, days are lighter longer, and it’s sunnier than in January and February, plus the snow is softer. There are very reasonable rates for lift tickets and six and under ski free.

On Fridays, two (any age) can ski for $30 with a $10 voucher for lunch in the base lodge included. So grab a child or friend and go discover a fun hill! With an average attendance of 100 persons on Fridays, anyone can have the same wonderful midweek experience we had.

Quechee is scheduled to close April 4 so check your calendars and plan a visit before the season’s over.

Directions: If arriving from the west (Killington, Woodstock), take Route 4 east to the Taftsville covered bridge. Turn left and cross the bridge, bearing right up the hill onto Quechee Main Street (a scenic rural road along the river) and go about two miles to the ski area on your left.

If approaching from the east (I-89, White River Junction), follow Route 4 to the blinking light, turn right and go over the Quechee covered bridge, then turn left and continue along Main Street one-plus miles to the ski area on your right.

For more information, visit: www.quecheeskiarea.com.

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