With my sister having a house in the Hudson Valley, I have used this location to my advantage over the years. At about an hour away from major Catskill Ski Resorts like Hunter, Windham and Belleayre, it's not super close. However, that sure beats driving the three hours back home to central NJ. It's actually even closer to the Berkshires with Ski Butternut being inside an hour and Catamount Mountain Resort even closer than that.
The Cat is Out of the Bag
For some reason, I have not made my way east toward the Berkshire ski resorts, until recently when I visited Catamount Mountain Resort. Although it is the closest ski resort to my sister's house in Red Hook, I had heard it was a little dated. That said, I was fine with spending a bit more time in the car to ski the Catskills instead of heading there. However, since I have the Indy Pass this season I decided to give Catamount a try. Couldn't hurt, right? Hell NO! With a brand new base lodge right next to the refurbished original one, new trails and a sweet outdoor après-ski setup only steps from the lift, Catamount Mountain is having quite a renaissance.
New Base Lodge Highlights Catamount's Capital Improvements
Catamount Mountain Resort was recently purchased by the Schaefer family who also own nearby Berkshire East. Since that time, the new ownership has made many improvements to the resort earning them a spot on recent Forbes list of the six best North American ski mountains at 1,000 vertical or less. The article cites many reasons for their success including a family friendly atmosphere, trail variety and plenty of capital improvements.
The capital improvements are evident the second you pull into the lot. Driving down the short driveway toward the mountain, your eyes are instantly drawn to the beautiful new base lodge. Situated adjacent to the old one, which they also renovated to match, the architecture on both is stunning. With A-Frame roof lines and a wood exterior visitors are graced with a modern take on the rustic mountain feel you'd expect from a ski lodge.
The original Berkshire lodge got an overhaul in 2019 that included new windows, a new floor and a new roof. It's architecture is stunning and designed to match the new Catamount lodge. Only open for a brief period last season prior to having to shut down due the pandemic, it is basically brand new. Equipped with 350 seats, food stations and a new bar it is going to be the hub for some good times once the pandemic ends. Right now though, that hub has shifted outdoors to the base area.
Outdoor Areas Provide a Safe and Fun Area for Après-Ski at Catamount
In the interest of being Covid-friendly Catamount has stepped up their game even more. The area they have created in just outside the back of the lodge is a fun and safe way to enjoy the mountain atmosphere.
"We found that if you setup fire pits, people tend to stay outside," said Rich Edwards, Market Director at Catamount.
It's so true. As I passed through the lodges throughout the day, there were very few people inside other than to get food. Most decided to congregate outside, opting to warm themselves around the fire pits while eating their lunch or having a beer. The environment was safe. Visitors were mindful of other's space while still maintaining the fun mountain atmosphere that we are accustomed to.
Catamount has also built two new Cabana Villages for the season that are located in a couple of areas around the base. There are 30 cabanas that are the equivalent of a mid-sized shed, and can be rented and used as a place to set up shop for the day. It's really a brilliant idea not only for the current pandemic but also moving forward. Currently the cabanas are equipped with a table and benches for seating of up to six and heat to keep you all warm. Ultimately they give people another option to maintain their personal space while having lunch or celebrating après-ski with their closest crew. In the future, I could see these two dedicated areas almost becoming hut villages where some fun could be had once the ski day ends.
New Trails at Catamount Offers a Variety of Terrain
Heading into last season, Catamount cut eight new trails. This ultimately added a ton of variety for skiers of all abilities. The addition of Christopher's Leap along with Ripper and Lynx gives them four bonafide double diamonds to go along with their signature double, Catapult. Christopher's Leap and Lynx were not open the day I was there but looked pretty gnarly from the top. Ripper and Catapult, however, were skiable that day. Boy are they fun. In fact, they are as good anything I've skied south of Vermont.
The terrain expansion doesn't just include big boy trails though. There are new, more challenging trails off the popular blue Sidewinder trail that include another blue and a less steep diamond. They even cut some greens on the Massachusetts side of the mountain which are accessed by the new Promenade Triple.
Overall, this provides an excellent skiing and riding experience for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities.
Indy Pass Helps Find the Soul of Skiing
It may have taken me awhile to get to Catamount Mountain Resort, but thanks to the Indy Pass I was finally able to check out this OG ski resort with plenty of soul. Having been around since 1939, it's not new by any stretch of the imagination. However, the new ownership is striving to make it feel that way. The upgraded lodges are fantastic! The new trails and snowmaking insure that skiers and riders won't get bored. And, the setup outdoors with firepits and rentable huts maintain the fun of après-ski at Catamount. All this in mind, Catamount may be old school but it's comeback is for real and I can't wait to see what's next.
If you are thinking about paying Catamount Mountain Resort a visit, you absolutely should. It is definitely worth a day trip if you are coming from the NYC metropolitan area or Massachusetts. When you do, be sure to rock you Après All Day Beanie while chilling by the firepits. Not only does it look good but it will give your dome some extra warmth while you're drinking those post ski beers and listening to music.