Joys of ‘backyard’ skiing at Mohawk Mountain

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Sometimes, you don’t appreciate what’s in your backyard.

Take Mohawk Mountain ski area in Cornwall, for example. It doesn’t have a huge vertical drop (650 feet),  the longest trail is just over a mile and its trail count is only 24.

No high speed lifts, summit lodge or ski in, ski out condos.

Just a simple, down home Connecticut ski area that’s been around for 67 years.

I’ve been skiing Mohawk for years, but something happened to me yesterday. I had a Mohawk Moment; a deeper appreciation for this area steeped in ski history.

Incredible snow conditions, excellent grooming and perfect Bluebird Day weather helped me relish the few hours I spent at Mohawk. And it was all less than an hour from my driveway.

Yeah, yeah, I love steep and long trails, but yesterday I overcame my Big Mountain snobbishness for the subtle pleasures of Mohawk from its classic ski lodge to the slow (but adequate) chairlifts.

In the woods you can see paths where old T-bars pulled skiers up to the 1,600-foot summit. The 68-year-old Pine Lodge has been restored with an outdoor patio and fireplace. There’s hand carved wooden signs for trails like Housatonic, Timber and Arrow Head. Inside the main lodge antique skis, boots and old photos line the walls. And this being the 21st century, naturally there’s WiFi.

Mohawk’s claim to ski history is snowmaking, In 1949, Mohawk’s founder Walt Schoenknecht teamed up with three people from the Milford-based Tey Manufacturing Company to blow the first machine-made snow. That primitive garden hoses spraying mist system has been replaced with towering fan guns that blanket Mohawk’s slopes.

I ski Mohawk a few times each season. But what I noticed this year was how the area has improved itself from the new pads on the chairlifts, more snowmaking towers, cheaper lift tickets and manicured grooming.

While the runs aren’t long, Mohawk does have some moderate drops on trails like Ledges. Pinnacle, Timber and Arrowhead. Sure, the runs ends in a few minutes, but they do give you enough turns to make you satisfied until the next one.

For 30 bucks midweek, you can ski or snowboard from 8:30 AM to 10 PM; not that anyone would do that, but it’s an excellent deal nonetheless. A 4 to 10 PM pass costs $25. As your would expect, on weekends it costs more; 58 bucks for an adult ticket.

Unlike most Connecticut ski areas, Mohawk does makes an effort to be affordable. It also offers a number of special discounts including free passes for active military personnel.

On Saturday night, for example, firefighters, police officers and EMT ski/ride for half-price; that’s 12 bucks. Details here.

If you haven’t been to Mohawk in a few years it’s worth a return visit.

CONDITIONS

Most major ski resorts across the East have not yet hit the 100 percent open mark. Sure, resorts have been picking up several inches of snow each week, but we haven’t had those magical Big Dumps that makes everything open and wonderful. Snowfall is below average in Vermont. At the fabled stake at Mount Mansfield, Vermont, snowfall depth is 40 inches.

Northern areas in Vermont like Jay and Stowe are near the 100 percent open mark. Southern VT resorts like Okemo, Stratton and Killington that have huge snowmaking arsenals have expanded terrain for all ability levels.

New Hampshire and New York areas have about 75 percent of their trails open with packed powder conditions.

QUICK TURNS

Okemo in Vermont, that is celebrating its 50th birthday today, has added a number of cool live cams. You can find them here.

BEST DEALS:

Here’s a lovely deal from Mount Snow in southern Vermont: Two lift tickets for $49 on Valentine’s Day, Friday, Feb. 14. The resort says it will be offering couples, “or anyone else for that matter,” a day on the mountain for less with two lift tickets for $49 when purchased in advance online at his site.

 

Categories: General
Jim Shay

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