Don’t-miss Mountain: Catamount Ski Resort

Written by Natalie Akers

At my elementary school, entering third grade unlocked a rite of passage; We were finally old enough for the after school ski program. Each Thursday at 3pm, we loaded our gear onto the school bus and drove 45-minutes across the NY-MA border for the unmatched experience of night skiing at Catamount Resort. I remember riding the lift up past the accessible gently-sloped lower trails into the forested boundary of Catapult – the first double-black diamond I’d ever laid eyes on. Today, even after years of skiing steep backcountry in the Cascades and the Alps, I am challenged to manage descending Catapult with “style.”

Catamount Resort Night Skiing

If you only have time for a bite-sized review of Catamount Mountain, know this: Catamount boasts both a comfort-zone and challenge for every visitor. Situated on the border of New York state and Massachusetts, it is incredibly accessible to folks in the tristate and Massachusetts. And this year, the new owners (the Schafer Family who own Berkshire East) have completely leveled-up the mountain’s game. Do not miss it.

Though the Schafer Family has protected Catamount’s tried-and-true indy mountain charm, they’ve made some important updates that mean faster-access to a wider variety of trails. The sweet-but-outdated doubles were replaced with a brand new quad and the new summit triple. Family’s can enjoy extended night tubing. And all operations, from grooming to snow-making, food and beverage to the rental shop, have a breathtaking facelift. (Note: I mean this. In my high school racing days, Catamount had a reputation for slush at the bottom and ice on top. They’ve totally turned the snow-quality around!)

Catamount Ski Resort Lodge

I want to put an extra plug in for the lodge updates. For family’s who may require or appreciate a good lodge-hang, Catamount offers a multiplicity of food options including BBQ, Mexican-inspired cuisine, and a barista-approved coffee shop. There’s no need to pack the soggy PB&Js. Given the deal of skiing on the Indy Pass, I indulged in tacos while my ski partner went for soup and a burger. Turns out the tequila is safe (and delicious) to drink in moderation.

How to Ski Catamount
If you’re just starting to ski or ride, Catamount’s brilliant layout concentrates the gentlest-slopes to the east (skiers right). You can hang all day on either the Meadow Triple or the Promenade Triple and be satiated with 15+ beginner and intermediate trails. There are narrower trails that weave between trees, helping beginners learn their turns without the speed, and wide thruways. Stop (at the trail’s edge!) and watch the terrain park riders spin and flip. Catamount is known for its extensive park features. Or stay on this side of the mountain for extended night skiing. Beginners can also take photos on the summit and safely descend on Ridge Run, which is the easiest way down.

For more experienced or adventurous visitors, I generally ride the north-eastern facing aspects first. These trails, situated on skiers left, can be accessed by riding the new Ridge Quad or Glade Triple. Pick the lift with less line. From there, I suggest hitting some of the intermediate trails like Upper to Lower-Sidewinder or Shawenon. Don’t be intimidated by the gorgeous ice-laden trees on top of Catamount. This is the sign of some active snow-making and night-temps that keep any new snow light and firm. This is also your photo op. Soak in a gorgeous view of three states (CT, MA, and NY), then head down and lap the triple again. As the sun moves, I generally move to the north-facing slopes (skier’s right). Before my legs are shot, I try my luck on Catapult, and run the often perfectly-grooved race-slope before they set up gates.

When you’re not skiing/riding
If you’re not staying in the wonderful rooms at Catamount, head over the border to Massachusetts for New England at its best. Don’t miss “Mom’s Country Cafe” in Egremont, MA where you can pick up delicious sandwiches and snacks to go, or take a diner meal in. You can also swing by “The Barn” in Egremont where locals catch live music, or “Race Brook Lodge” in Sheffield. Though I’m biased, I think of Great Barrington as the hub. Baba Louie’s is a townie-approved sourdough pizza joint; Xicohtencatl is my vote for Mexican cuisine, and Bizen is the authentic japanese restaurant worth the price and wait. Pro tip: If your lodging doesn’t offer a hot tub, the Community Center in Great Barrington is a fantastic facility. Their day-pass option allows visitors to soak and sauna sore muscles after a full day on the mountain.

Catamount is a don’t-miss mountain on the Indy Pass for its accessibility, note-worthy facilities, and the remarkable diversity of terrain packed into 1,000 vertical feet. But perhaps most notably, it’s a family-run mountain worth supporting. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, owner Jon Schaefer started “Goggles for Docs,” a massively successful effort to provide healthcare workers with new goggles as a form of effective eye protection.