Introduction ~ History ~ Layout ~ Lifts ~ Trails and Slopes ~ Lodge ~ Visit ~ More Information
**Note - this is not an official page of Beartown Ski Area, rather a NELSAP Article. For more information on the resort, please call them directly at 518 561 3938, or visit their website, thanks**
Beartown Ski Area is a classic, family ski area that has operated for nearly 60 years. Located in Beekmantown, near Plattsburgh, it features a 140' vertical drop, 2 main slopes and several additional trails served by a 1971 Hall T-bar and a 1977 Pomalift. In addition, there is a terrain park, halfpipe, lodge with snack bar, snowmaking, and ski patrol. It is a not for profit ski center that relies heavily on volunteers for its operation. Paid staff helps run the lodge, snack bar, lifts, and manage the hill, while volunteers do the rest. Despite its small size, it offers the Beartown Ski Team, which trains children on how to race, and many of the students end up quite successful.
This page is intended to introduce the area's history, layout and features, with the hopes that NELSAP fans will check it out and add it to their skied list. Click on most images for a larger version. Most of the photos were taken on February 1, 2014 on a trip visit.
|Beartown was founded in
1957 by the Clinton County Ski Council. The first order of business was
to find a suitable location for a ski area. Malcolm Collin, Bob Ladue
and Bob King scouted around the surrounding communities, until they
discovered the location for Beartown. $300 was used to purchase the land
from Norris Reyell (who would later manage the area), and Ford V-8
Engine was purchased to construct a rope tow. The area opened in
February, 1958 with a simple slope and rope tow and no facilities.
The following year, more improvements came to Beartown. The former Plattsburgh Air Force Base's mule barn was torn down and recycled, with the wood used to construct the base lodge.
Throughout the 1960's, additional trails and slopes were cleared. In 1971, a 939' Hall T-bar was constructed on the slope, with a vertical drop of 132'. The lift had a capacity of 1150 skiers per hour and ran at 450' per minute. It was built next to a rope tow, which ran in tandem until the early 1980's, then the tow was removed.
In 1977, a Poma brand Platter lift was built on the North Slope, replacing a rope tow. This lift had a vertical of 107', operated at 421'/minute, was 626' long and had a capacity of 720 skiers per hour. A few other rope tows were scattered across the hill, but they were all removed by the early 1990's.
Snowmaking was added in the 1960's, as was night skiing, which continues through today.
To the right is a picture of some of the early founders and members of Beartown. At the lower right is Malcolm Collin.
|As you face the ski area and move from left to right, the Orchard Trails and Halfpipe are on the left, then the T-bar and Main Slope/Terrain Park, then connecting trails to the North Slope and Platter, and then the North Slope Trails. Behind the ski area is a decent selection of snowshoe and cross country trails that are available for a small fee.|
|Riding p the Hall T-bar, Main Slope on the right.||Upper portions of the T-bar, and Upper Main Slope.||The Platter lift.||A chair swing overlooks the Main Slope and Lake Champlain. Possibly from Paleface.|
Riding the Hall T-bar.
Trails and Slopes
|Looking up the Slope, Platter on the right.||Main Slope.||Top of Main Slope, Lake Champlain in background.||North Slope|
Skiing from the top of the Main Slope to North Slope.
The lodge is cozy and offers a very affordable snack bar.
NELSAP Visit Feb 1, 2014
Here is Jeremy's trip report from February 1, 2014.
While researching for my new book, Lost Ski
Areas of the Northern Adirondacks, I am trying to hit up all of the open ski
areas throughout the region. On Saturday I drove 2 hours north to hit up
Beartown Ski Area, located on Beartown Road in West Chazy, NY. It is always
exciting to ski a new area regardless of size.
Only the Main/North slope and connectors were open, but another 3-6" should open everything else up as the base is rock hard and solid.
Arriving at 930AM, the area was not yet open but was by 10AM. I had introduced myself to Deborah, who runs the snack bar, who then introduced me to mountain manager Eric, and the Beartown Race Team coach Mike. I also met Matt who works on maintenance at the mountain. Everybody was welcoming and friendly, and within 20 minutes I felt like like I had a great feeling about how great a place Beartown is for families.
Conditions were groomed packed powder, and the Race Team was practicing on the Main Slope. The team is geared towards children, and you can tell how much fun they were having. Mike was telling me how much the parents appreciate having Beartown nearby, to get the kids out of the house and to get some exercise.
Lift tickets are affordable, at $20 for adults, and you can make a lot of (short) runs on the T-bar. The poma wasn't open but was going to open in the afternoon for more race training. While there is nothing steep at Beartown, the trails are ideal for kids and those learning to ski. Lake Champlain is visible from the summit, and the trails face east.
The base lodge is cozy, and breakfast/lunch is about as cheap as you can get in 2014!
I would definitely recommend Beartown to families, those learning to ski, or for those like me like to add another area to their skied list - and of course, those of you who like to support smaller ski areas so they will be there in the future.
NELSAP was originally informed Steve Bailey in 2002. Here are his details from that date.
|The ski area is called
Beartown and it is located in Beekmantown NY, which is just outside of
Plattsburgh, on Beartown Road. It has a T-bar and a Poma which serve
about 4 slopes (although the ski area will insist that they have 9
trails!) Total vertical drop is about 150 ft. (I think). It is run as a
not-for-profit facility by a volunteer board of directors from the area.
The area has been in operation since the 50's, and has an active ski
team with about 70 youth ages 4-11. We are open on weekend, Thurs and
Fri nights, and on school vacations. Definitely a beginner area.
One interesting tidbit - Tim Howley, who is the current co-president of the Board of Directors, learned to ski here and said he and his friends used to refer to the area as 'Terror Ridge' when they were kids.
Finally, this past December 2002 we lost one of our founding fathers, Malcolm Collin who passed away just before Christmas. Mal helped scout out the site, build the ski area, secured funding for our lifts, snowmaking and grooming equipment, and was still active and a vice president on the Board of Directors. Mal was active and involved in the ski area from the time the ski area was just an idea in 1957, through its opening in 1958, right up to the time of his death. The last time I saw him was at the November 2002 board of directors meeting, where he was scheming ways we could get $15,000 to pay for our new groomer. We will all miss him very much.
Above is a view of the area. You can see the wide slopes and a few narrower trails in the woods.
||A picture of the area.
The T-bar is at the left edge of the picture, and the Poma
is at the right edge. The left slope is the 'Main hill and the right
slope is the 'Race hill'. There are 3 more
trails to the left (out of the picture) and 3 more
trails to the right. On the race hill, it is hard to see but there are
slalom gates set up and they are conducting
race team practice.
A picture of the base lodge.
Steve sent us a copy of their brochure from 2002 as well, which tells more about the area. Rates were erased by me as they are no longer applicable.
Now that you've read about Beartown, go check it out for yourself! If you do, be sure to mention you learned about the area from NELSAP!
Last updated: February 2, 2014
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