Beartown Ski Area offers local beginners a place to start out with winter sports.
The slopes at Beartown Ski Area are just the right size for children and beginners learning how to ski and snowboard.
Nestled at the end of Beartown Road in the woods of Beekmantown, lies a ski lodge, slopes and cross-country trails awaiting the many visitors of Beartown Ski Area, each winter hoping to improve their skiing and snowboarding skills.
One weekend in September, the Beartown volunteers so kindly invited me out to the lodge to explore the property and see what goes on as they prepare for the much anticipated ski season.
I went on an adventure through the cross-country trails, climbed the ski slopes and spoke with volunteers who worked to clean up the area. The friendly staff was nothing but helpful when it came to showing me around Beartown and explaining how everything works from year to year.
Since 1958, Beartown Ski Area has provided North Country families a place to fall in love with outdoor winter sports and enhance their skills. A group of volunteers back in 1957 worked to clear the first slopes and install a rope tow. Since then, the ski area has continued to grow through the hard work and dedication of volunteers who keep this nonprofit organization running for the community. Most of the volunteers today are the sons and daughters of the men and women who ran Beartown back when they were children.
Many young people in surrounding towns grew up learning how to ski at Beartown. Whether they wanted to cross-country ski, try slalom-style skiing or snowboard, Beartown had it all. Not to mention, finding a great view of Lake Champlain and the mountains at the top of the hill.
The slopes at Beartown are not as high as other mountains in the surrounding area, such as Whiteface, Titus or Gore. However, they cater to youth skiers and snowboarders and people beginning to try these sports; the smaller slopes help ease them into whichever sport they wish to pursue. Almost every adult I spoke with at the ski resort started skiing at Beartown and usually followed in their parents’ footsteps with that. In many cases, the tradition has now carried over to their own children.
After a chilly afternoon on the mountain, come inside the lodge for a snack and a cup of hot cocoa served by the friendly staff.
With a T-bar, lighted trails for nighttime skiing, snowmaking and grooming machines, cross country trails, a ski team and a warm lodge with a snack bar, it’s hard not to find something for the whole family to enjoy throughout the winter months.
During those perfect snow condition days, the slopes can be crowded; no reason to worry, though, because there are National Ski Patrol employees on duty, carefully monitoring the slopes.
One advantage of the community-oriented atmosphere at Beartown is the individualized ski lessons given by the staff. Volunteers, like Judy Booth, spend time with more than 70 students each winter working on their skiing and snowboarding skills, so they can continue on their own. Each of the instructors I met was nothing less than passionate when they spoke about teaching local children.
If students perform well in their lessons and want to continue with their training, most of them will usually go on to join Beartown’s ski team. Mike Colin has been the coach for many years and helps prepare kids for competitive ski situations.
The ski team travels around to different areas to get a sense of what it is like to ski at other mountains besides Beartown. Skills the students learned at Beartown carry over to the bigger mountain, however, and give them a chance to compete against other children.
When the ski team is away and Beartown is open, there might be a birthday party back at the lodge. The lodge is open to the public to host parties or other special events for a small fee. For tubing parties, community members can rent out one of the trails, so party attendees can tube down the hill without any worry of running into skiers or snowboarders. Volunteers monitor the hill carefully to ensure everyone’s safety.
In addition to hosting events and skiers, Beartown has multiple fundraisers throughout the year to keep the business afloat considering it is a nonprofit organization.
The annual swap shop fundraiser is usually the most popular one in the community. People bring in their used ski and snowboard equipment and set a price for it, volunteers tag everything, and shoppers purchase the items they need for the upcoming season. Beartown receives 20 percent of the sale on each item, and the seller takes the rest. It is a good way for people just beginning to find gently used equipment at a reasonable price, while helping the ski area earn money to keep the organization running.
Other fundraisers include a holiday wreath sale, gaining corporate sponsors and collecting donations from generous community members.
For beginners or children looking for a comfortable and friendly skiing environment, Beartown Ski Area has something to offer the whole family.
Where is your favorite place to ski or snowboard?