*** This article was originally posted ont the now defunct ActionXSportsNews.com which was run by a WICed Fest member. The article has been slightly modified to fit within the WICed Fest site. ***
General Mountain Information
Burke Mountain is located in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (NEK) about fifteen minutes off of Interstate 91 (7 miles from exit 24 to be exact). The drive from the New York area took roughly six and a half hours due to the fact that the NEK had a snowstorm the night before and the roads were only partially plowed. The drive home took six hours exactly. Folks from Boston and southeastern Massachusetts reported that their drive was roughly four hours.
Trails and Snowmaking
Burke Mountain is located on 250 skiable acreas. The summit sits at an elevation of 3,267 feet with 2,011 feet of vertical drop. The resort average 217 inches of snow annually. In addition, the mountain accommodates snowmaking on 80% of its trail system.
Burke Mountain claims four lifts, however only two are quad lifts that the majority of visitors will use. The other two consist of a J-bar surface lift on the learning hill and the other is the POMA lift on the ski racing trail. The Sherburne Express High-Speed Quad services the lower portion of the mountain and is perfect for lapping the terrain park (more on that later). The Willoughby Quad is a fixed grip quad chairlift that accesses the summit of the mountain.
**Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this article, Burke Mountain has added a high speed quad – the MidBurke Express – that services their summit. This is a HUGE plus!
According to their website, Burke Ski Resort has three terrain parks: Open Slope which houses their big air contest and rail jam; Dashney Mile which is located on the lower mountain and contains intermediate level terrain with a variety of hits, jumps, rails, and terrain features; and Carter Country which is located on the J-bar hill and includes smaller beginner features.
A group of WICed Festers visited Burke for three and a half days in early February of 2011. A small group of us arrived midday day on Sunday and were treated to $20 lift tickets from noon to close. A pleasant surprise indeed. The conditions were stellar, no doubt due to the fact that Burke had received over 24 inches of snow in the last 72 hours. For the remainder of the afternoon, we rode most of the mountain and found plenty of powder stashes. The lifts were essentially empty and the people we did run into were very pleasant.
After the day was over, we were able to check into our condo. Since the lodging property we used was not owned by Burke Ski Area, it will not be part of this review. However, I do recommend contacting Liz over at Burke Slopeside Lodging. She did a terrific job of helping us find a lodging and lift ticket package that met the requirements of our group.
The next three days were spent riding the entire mountain. Over the course of these three days, we found the mountain to be both challenging and well-groomed. The trails were always in immaculate shape, no doubt due to the fact that the conditions were perfect for the last week or so. Even late in the day, none of us worried about catching an edge on a boilerplate ice patch. That’s not to say that we haven’t experienced that at Burke previously – this is the East Coast after all. However, on this trip, the conditions were stellar and even after a long day we could still lay down hard toeside turns with the expectation that you would not have a blow out.
Trails and Lifts
The terrain was, for the most part, challenging. The trails marked blue would definitely be considered blacks at other resorts. They had some nice steepness to them and their were also some great cutbacks cut through the mountain that allowed for some beautiful, scenic trail riding. The blacks were generally left ungroomed and, while fun, tended to be mogul fields. Not exactly the kind of thing you looked for on a snowboard. The glades were also very fun and fairly abundant, however you had to get on them early as they get skied out fairly quickly during the morning. The main problem we found was that the mountain is fairly small. We were able to explore the entire mountain during the first full day of riding and that left very little in terms of exploration for the next few days.
The lift system at Burke would be rated medium to poor. While the Sherburne Express is a high-speed quad, it only services the lower portion of the mountain. This lift is great for lapping the Dashney Mile Park and for parents who are teaching their children to ski or snowboard. The average skier or snowboarder, however, will find this lift only useful if you are trying to get to the Willoughby Quad. The Willoughby Quad is a fixed grip quad chairlift that accesses the summit of Burke. It is a fairly slow ride to the top that takes about 15 minutes or so. This lift makes it undersirable to access the summit on a windy, cold day. Overall, this lift is the largest drawback to Burke. (Editor’s Note: See mention about the new MidBurke Express above.).
While Burke claims to have three terrain parks on their website, our group only experienced one – The Dashney Mile. That being said, the terrain park was quite challenging for even experienced riders. There was a good mix of jumps, rails and terrain features. The flow of the features was also quite good with the only complaint being that some of the jumps were placed too close to some of the rails in such a way that you were not able to hit the rail and still maintain speed into the jump. Other than that one complaint, the terrain park was well thought out and provided enough challenge for all of the riding abilities in our group.
- Minimal lift lines
- Steep terrain
- Quality grooming
- Large amount of natural snowfall
- Friendly people
- Slow summit lift (see MidBurke Express)
- Smaller mountain (minimal trail variety)
- Only one terrain park available
- Lodging cannot be booked through resort
- No recreation center (pools/hot tub) available on-site
Overall, Burke is a great mountain to visit. As with any mountain, there are pros and cons to your visit. While we probably won’t visit again in the near future (the size is detrimental to an annual return trip), Burke is on the short list of ‘must visit’ resorts on the East Coast. The annual snowfall, challenging terrain, terrific grooming and lack of crowds are all great reasons to visit this quaint little mountain.
NOTE: One of the chief complaints of this review was the smaller size of Burke. It is important to point out that Burke is working towards expansion in the future.