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Killington. "Megamountain," "The Beast of the East," and plain "huge" are apt descriptions of Killington. Powder Corp. operates Killington and its neighbor, Pico, and over the past several years has improved lifts and snowmaking capabilities. Thanks to its extensive snowmaking system, the resort typically opens in early November, and the lifts often run into late April or early May. Après-ski activities are plentiful and have been rated the best in the East by national ski magazines. With a single call to Killington's hotline or a visit to its website, skiers can plan an entire vacation: choose accommodations, book air or railroad transportation, and arrange for rental equipment and ski or snowboard lessons. Killington ticket holders can also ski at Pico Mountain: a shuttle connects the two areas.
The Killington–Pico complex has a host of activities, including a lift-served tubing park, snowcat-drawn sleigh rides, world-class on-snow events and festivals, mountain biking, hiking, golf course and an 18-hole disc golf course. The resort rents mountain bikes and advises hikers. The K-1 Express Gondola takes you up the mountain to Vermont's second-highest summit.
In terms of downhill skiing, it would probably take several weeks to test all 192 trails on the seven mountains of the Killington complex, even though all except Pico interconnect. About 80% of the 1,017 acres of skiing terrain can be covered with machine-made snow. Transporting skiers to the peaks of this complex are 29 lifts, including 2 gondolas, 11 quads (including 7 high-speed express quads), 5 triples, and a Magic Carpet. The K-1 Express Gondola goes to the area's highest elevation, 4,241-foot Killington Peak. The Skyeship Gondola starts on U.S. 4, far below Killington's main base lodge. Savvy skiers park at the base of the Skyeship Gondola to avoid the more crowded access road. After picking up more passengers at a mid-station, the Skyeship tops out on Skye Peak. Although Killington has a vertical drop of 3,050 feet, only gentle trails—Juggernaut and Great Eastern—go from top to bottom. The skiing includes everything from Outer Limits, the East's steepest and longest mogul trail, to 6½-mile Great Eastern. In the glades, underbrush and low branches have been cleared to provide tree skiing. Killington's 22-foot Superpipe is one of the best rated in the East. Instruction programs are available for youngsters ages 3–8; those 6–12 can join an all-day program. 4763 Killington Rd., Killington, VT, 05751. 802/422–6200; 802/422–6200 snow conditions; 800/621–6867 lodging. www.killington.com.
Pico. When weekend hordes hit Killington, the locals head to Pico. One of Killington's "seven peaks," Pico is physically separated from its parent resort. The 52 trails range from elevator-shaft steep to challenging intermediate trails near the summit, with easier terrain near the bottom of the mountain's 2,000-foot vertical. The learning slope is separated from the upper mountain, so hotshots won't bomb through it. The lower express quad can get crowded, but the upper one rarely has a line. 4763 Killington Rd., Killington, VT, 05751. 802/422–6200 or 866/667–7426. www.picomountain.com.
Mountain Meadows Lodge. For cross-country skiing, Mountain Meadows Lodge on Kent Lake has 34½ miles of trails and a 1-mile loop with snowmaking coverage. Thundering Brook Rd., 285 Thundering Brook Rd., Killington, VT, 05751. 802/775–7077 or 802/775–1010. www.mountainmeadowslodge.com.
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