The Rebirth of Snow Valley, VT

Snow Valley, Vermont is coming back! Yes, this long abandoned ski area with tons of history and interest for NELSAP readers, will be reborn as a private ski area. This is great news, as one of our favorite areas will be skied again! As a request, please refrain from visiting this area for the time being. It is on private property and the new owner is working hard to bring it back, and there is a lot of work taking place. Be patient though, and read through this article for some exciting news for NELSAP and Snow Journal enthusiasts. 

To learn more about Snow Valley and view some older photos, click here.

I visited this area on July 8, 2004, and met the new owner Chris Franco. It was a foggy wet day, but great to explore the area.

For the past 20 years, Snow Valley in Winhall, Vermont has steadily deteriorated. Left in near perfect shape at its closing the early 1980's, lifts have rusted, trails grown in, and buildings collapse. Vandals have damaged much of the remaining buildings: smashing windows, writing grafiti, and of course, who can forget the old rotten mattress in the base lodge? Meanwhile, the area's natural beauty has been slowly become inaccessible, with the old trails being taken over by thick growth. Snow Valley Fast Facts:

Year Opened: 1938
Year Closed: Approximately 1982
Lifts When Closed: Poma (installed c1960), Beginner Tow, Borvig Double Chair (installed c1977)
Trails When Closed: 15
Vertical: Approx. 700 feet
Snowmaking: Yes
Grooming: Yes
Night Skiing: No
Other Former Lifts: 2 rope tows, 2500' Roebling T-bar
Other Facilities: Cross Country Skiing

It was time for a change. The area was being sold by its former owner, and in 2004, Chris Franco purchased the former ski area and acreage around the mountain. Chris appreciates ski history, and said that learning about Snow Valley on NELSAP helped him purchase the area! It is great to hear that our site has helped to bring a lost area back to life.

Chris has many plans for the mountain over the next few years. First off, this area will be private, a non-commercial area, for family, friends, and other guests. In a nutshell, a majority of trails will be cleared over the next few years, with a T-bar likely being installed in 2005, close to the site of the original lift. The original lodge will need to be torn down due to its deterioration. However, a new lodge will be built on the foundation, with the original fireplace remaining in place. 

Here's a blueprint of the trails. However, some trails are missing, and others depicted here will not be reopened.

Here's a trail map showing which trails should reopen. So far, Steeplechase (1) has been cleared (pictures below), as has part of the narrow Boomerang (2). Another narrow twisty trail is partially cleared, St. Cristopher. Note that some slopes on the left won't reopen - a road will be built in that area leading to a house near the summit. Also, a few trails near the bottom of the old double won't reopen, since the double is not going to be part of the area.

The chair is not needed - too much maintenance, and if it breaks, skiers are left stranded. With T-bars, one can just ski away!

The historic lodge has suffered for years with vandals and the weather. Collapsed buildings have been already removed for safety reasons. While it would be nice to save the lodge, it is unsafe. However, a new lodge will be built in its place, utilizing the old foundation and fireplace. For some of you who remember the old, collapsed (and now removed) portions of the lodge, the newly exposed room on the left hand side may be intriguing. So whats in this room?
The old bathrooms! Check out what 20 years + of vandals and weather can do!

Back to the mountain. The original T-bar base building is still standing, though in bad shape. Inside, the original bullwheel still hangs. Chris plans on removing the bullwheel and using it as a chandelier in the new lodge. What a great idea! Saves the history while giving the bullwheel a new function.
Looking up Steeplechase (the main slope), one can see significant clearing. No new trails have been cut, just existing ones. To the far upper left, you can see the narrow cleared Boomerang trail. Also, look closely on the right hand side of Steeplechase - note the snowmaking pipe. Snowmaking will not be utilized at the area however-it will be natural snow only. Snow Valley does live up to its name, with over 120 inches per year falling.

Halfway up Steeplechase is a huge natural rock jump. This was used 60 years, and will soon be used again. Watch out for the daredevils!
About three quarters of the way up Steeplechase, a few birch trees were left when the slope was cleared. This enhances the character of the slope, and will provide for a scenic backdrop. Much of the trails are being cut with tree islands and scattered trees. Most NELSAP enthusiasts love this type of trail design! 

At the top, two original T-bars were found. It is amazing, these lifts are nearly 60 years old! In the background is the totally grown in T-bar line.
Finally, at the summit we find the original T-bar unloading station. It is in amazing shape as well. Parts of this structure will be re-used when the new T-bar is installed.

For this upcoming winter, Chris Franco plans on having skiing on Steeplechase, Boomerang, and perhaps part of St. Cristophers. It will be served by either snowmobile or snowcat. So, the question is - will you be able to ski it?

The answer - yes! NELSAP and Snowjournal will be working with Chris to have a day of skiing for our members this winter! We hope to be part of this exciting reopening. Stay tuned to NELSAP and Snowjournal this winter for this exciting news!

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