The closest big mountain experience to New York City is Hunter Mountain in the gorgeous Catskill Mountain range. In addition to being just a two-and-a-half hour drive from the city, it’s just one hour from both Albany and Stewart airports, two from LaGuardia, and two and a half from both JFK and Newark.
The resort is on three separate mountains in the town of Hunter. Hunter Mountain itself is the second highest peak in the Catskills and the highest in Greene County. Base elevation is 1,600 feet and peak elevation is 3,200 feet.
Though it’s a smaller resort with just 58 trails and nine lifts, Hunter Mountain maintains bragging rights with some of its off-slope activities. It is home to the largest snowtubing park in the state and the highest and longest zipline canopy tour in the country (open year-round).
Hunter Mountain has 240 skiable acres; 1,600-foot vertical drop; 30% beginner; 30% intermediate; 30% advanced; 10% expert.
- Advanced: Ski black-diamonds (Upper Highlands and Upper Hemlock) at the top of Hunter One. Others include The Colonel’s Alternate, Taylor’s Run, Milky Way, Lower Crossover, Hellgate, and Bleeker Street. Experts will enjoy the double-black diamonds on Hunter West: Annapurna, Westway, Clair’s Way, Which Way Glades and, lower on the mountain, Racer’s Edge. Find freestyle black-diamond terrain on Empire Park, Park Avenue, Park Avenue West, and Drop-Off.
- Intermediate: In the middle of Hunter One sit four blue square trails: Lower Highlands, Central Park, West Side Glide, and the curvy Rip Van Winkle. Others include Lower 42nd Street, Upper 42nd Street, 7th Avenue, Broadway, White Cloud, and the long Belt Parkway.
- Beginner: Green circle trails on Hunter One include Briar Patch, Boston Road, and Fordham Road. Elsewhere, find Fifth Avenue, The Battery, B Flat, Off-Broadway, and KMC Drive. In the “Slow Zones”, beginner trails include Learning Zone, Bucky’s Run, Gramercy Park, Madison Square, Central Park North, Gateway, and Mossy Brook.
Lift tickets begin at $75 for adults (18-64), $59 for children (7-17) and seniors (65+) per day, midweek (excluding holiday periods). Weekend and holiday tickets begin at $85 for adults and $68 for children and seniors. Toddler prices (ages 1-6) are $10 a day. Holiday periods for the 2017/18 season include December 27 to January 1, January 13 to 14, and February 17 to 19.
Discounts are provided for U.S. Military personnel, nearby students, multi-day passes, afternoon-only skiing, and passes purchased online in advance. On Sundays, sleep in and purchase $35 lift tickets after 12 p.m. Other deals and season passes are also available.
Food and Drink
In terms of food, Hunter Mountain provides a solid mix of grab-and-go places, casual quick-stop spots, and sit-down fine-dining with seasonal menus:
- Van Winkle’s Restaurant: With fine dining (filet mignon and rack of lamb) and pub fare (pizza and mozzarella sticks) in the same on-site Kaatskill Mountain Club Hotel restaurant, everyone in your party will find something to keep them toasty in an equally warm ambiance. Menus change seasonally. Executive chef and manager Tim Lang is a Culinary Institute of America graduate.
- Scottie’s Summit Lodge: At a 3,200-foot elevation, dine on soup, chilis, hot dogs, baked potatoes, burgers, and sandwiches without leaving the slopes at Scottie’s Summit Lodge
- Pika’s Waffle Stop: Make a pitstop on the slope at the bottom of the Empire Terrain Park for Belgian Liege Waffles, made with a special Belgian sugar and dough instead of batter
- The Main Bar: On the main floor, north side of the lodge, at the Main Bar, you’ll find drinks with television screens for the game, live bands, and DJs
- The Sushi Bar: Popular on weekends is the sushi bar on the second floor across from the Main Bar. Cocktails are available.
- Andre’s Slopeside Barbecue: Andre’s provides a summer barbecue feel in the winter with burgers, hot dogs, and chicken
- Coppertree Restaurant: Find a noodle bar, pastas, soups, chilis, sandwiches, and the Island Bar with an outdoor deck, sensational view, and specialty mixed drinks
- The Marketplace Food Court: On the main floor of the lodge, slopeside, find ski resort classics like soup, chilis, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, and french fries alongside burritos, wraps, and made-to-order stir-fry
- Prospect Restaurant: One of our favorite places for après ski in New York, Prospect Restaurant at Scribner’s Catskill Lodge offers 270-degree views of the mountains, a daily menu of “playful mountain cuisine” (think hearty vegetables; lobster with bacon, truffle, parsley root, and pears; fish tacos on paratha with tomatillo salsa and charred avocado), and seasonal fresh-baked pastries and desserts.
Rentals and Gear
Hunter Mountain Rental Shop next to the Learning Zone and Hunter One offers Burton snowboards, boots, and binding; Head skis, boots, and helmets; Rossignol skis and boots; Salomon skis and boots; Goode ski poles; and more. Rental rates begin at $40 for one-day rentals of skiing or snowboarding equipment for adults and $33 for children. While the majority of the equipment available is to-learn or beginner, there is a small fleet of performance equipment to rent. It’s recommended to pre-order the performance equipment as it is limited.
Hunter’s Sports and Recreation Center sells top-of-the-line equipment (including Atomic, Fischer, Full Tilt, Head, Line, Nordica, Rossignol, Scott) and clothing (Bogner, Icelandic, Lole, Neve, Nordica, Obermyer, SunIce, and more). The store also provides Fischer Vacuum Boot Fittings. The Board Room Snowboard Shop sells gear, apparel, and equipment from Arbor, Bonfire, Burton, Giro, Oakley, O’Neill, Planet Earth, Ride, Salomon, Skullcandy, Spacecraft, Spy, and more.
Lessons and Clinics
Hunter Mountain is offering a special Peak Discovery Program in which beginners ages 13 and up can receive a special deal for three days of lessons, rentals, and lift tickets. Beyond that, adults (13+) can take private, group, progression, or seasonal lessons at different levels. Kids programs include the use of a special SunKid conveyor lift. Group lessons are separated into Explorers (ages 4-6, skiing only) and Mountaineers (ages 7-12, skiing or snowboarding) and seasonal programs are available for the kids, too.
Athletes on Hunter’s competition teams (ages 7-20) are encouraged, but not required, to participate in races and competitions after finessing their skills with tasks and drills in the resort’s programs. Camps and workshops are available (for example, in February 2018, work on moguls in “Intro to Bumps”).
Skiing and Snowboarding Alternatives
While Hunter Mountain may not have as many alternatives to skiing and snowboarding as larger ski resorts in the East, what they do have, they don’t skimp on.
- Snowtubing: The largest snowtubing park in the state is at Hunter Mountain. Lanes are almost 1,000 feet long. Two-hour sessions are $20 a person in the 2017/18 season. There’s also a snack bar and a firepit.
- Ziplining: With the highest and longest zipline canopy tour in the country, Hunter Mountain offers five miles of zipline, heights of up to 600 feet, and speeds of up to 50 miles an hour. There are three thrill levels: Adventure Tower (the easiest - four stories of climbing, rope bridges, and cable walks); Mid-Mountain Tour (the middle - short ziplines, rope bridges, swinging bridges, and more); and Summit Skyrider (the most adventurous - criss-crossing, zipping from peak to peak and back again). Reservations are recommended.
- Spa: Hunter’s Mountain Club Spa offers luxury treatments using custom products with natural ingredients from the Catskills. Treatments include massages, facials, and seasonal body polishes.
Stay slopeside at the ski-in, ski-out Kaatskill Mountain Club in a suite with a full kitchen and access to a year-round indoor and outdoor heated pool, two hot tubs, a sauna, a steam room, fitness center, a fireplace, the full-service Mountain Club Spa, and more. Also part of the Kaatskill Mountain Club are condominium options, Liftside Village at Hunter and The Pinnacle. Explore the area’s hotels, motels, B&Bs, and inns for additional off-site options. Thompson House in Windham (about ten miles away) is on our list of best ski hotels in New York for its suites with Jacuzzis, a lobby fireplace, an ice rink, and its proximity to Hunter and two other resorts.