The closest big mountain ski resort to New York City, Gore has long been overlooked by skiers heading to Vermont or Lake Placid. Just exactly why that is remains something of a mystery.
Gore is owned by the State of New York and operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, which also operates two other New York ski resorts – Belleayre and Whiteface. As one might expect from a government-run facility, prices tend to be slightly cheaper than many of Gore’s competitors. However, those lower prices belie the fact that Gore is amongst the best ski resorts in the East.
From the summit, skiers can take in long views of the Adirondack High Peaks and Green Mountains. As they descend farther, they ski almost to the banks of the Hudson River. Gore’s scenic appeal is undeniable. However, so too is the quality of its skiing.
No matter how one measures, Gore is serious skiing. Gore boasts skiing on four peaks and seven distinct faces. Its 2537’ vertical drop is fifth highest in the East; only Whiteface, Smuggler’s Notch, Killington, and Sugarloaf are more prominent. With 444 acres of terrain, it is the largest ski resort in New York state and amongst the largest on the East by acreage.
Gore’s many sides are serviced by a modern and efficient lift network that includes an 8-passenger gondola and 2 express quads. Wanderers will love Gore as skiing from one trail complex to another leaves skiers with the impression that the resort is even bigger than its already impressive acreage. Recent trail improvements have made navigating easier, though a few notable flat spots still exist.
Intermediate skiers can explore each of Gore’s seven faces, but many stick to the excellent, long and varied blue trails of the Northwoods Area. These runs offer a 1,700 drop and are served by the Northwoods Gondola. Beginner skiers have more limited options, but can also navigate from the top of the gondola.
Just a few hundred yards from the base of the North Creek Ski Bowl section of the mountain is the village of North Creek. North Creek has a proud history as a ski town. The first ski trains from New York City stopped at Gore in the 1930’s. The village main street is dotted with shops, restaurants and two hotels.
Comparisons between Gore and its sister resort - Whiteface - are inevitable. However, other than being owned by the State of New York, Gore and Whiteface have little in common. Unlike Whiteface, it is difficult to ski the entirety of Gore’s impressive 2,537’ vertical drop in one run. Whiteface is tall and narrow; Gore is shorter and wider. The ski resort is chopped up into seven separate pods of terrain with vertical drops on each pod varying from between 700 and 1700’. Longer runs are possible, but require skiing from a higher pod into a lower one and usually some degree of traversing.
Navigating between these different areas can be a bit confusing at first. However, Gore's trail network is actually quite well laid out. A series of short connector trails makes moving around the mountain fairly easy, but does require a little studying of the trail map and the ability to keep up speed on some of the flatter connecting sections.
Located at the summit of Gore Mountain, the Straightbook area is home to the resort’s toughest advanced and expert trails. A fixed grip quad services approximately 900 vertical feet of steeps, headlined by two of the hardest trails in the Northeast (The Rumor and Lies) and a handful of sporty black diamonds. Gore claims The Rumor is the steepest trail in the East.
The front side of the mountain is known as the Northwoods Area. It is home to a bulk of Gore's terrain and is serviced by the 8-passenger Northwoods gondola and the new Adirondack Express II Quad. Here skiers will find long intermediate trails cut through a hardwood forest.
Every ski resort has its secret stashes and the High Peaks Area at Gore is that spot at Gore. The terrain on this portion of the mountain is affectionately known to locals as “The Dark Side.” The runs here were amongst the original trails on the mountain, meaning they were cut by hand not by a bulldozer. These north-facing slopes both hold the snow and offer long views out at Mount Marcy and the Adirondack High Peaks. The trails are rugged and steep. The expert Lower Steilhang trail stands out as the best trail in the High Peaks area and is a prime example of a New England-style, narrow, ski trail.
The Topridge area is a relatively recent addition to Gore’s skiable terrain. Three main trails are serviced by a triple chair. All of the trails face South, meaning temperate skiing on a cold day or slush and bare spots on a warm one.
Home to Gore’s most mellow blue terrain, the North Side has several easier intermediate runs and a single beginner trail. This face is serviced by its own fixed grip quad chair, which is the slowest ride on the mountain.
Burnt Ridge is Gore’s newest development. The Burnt Ridge area offers several long trails with 1,400’+ of vertical drop and great views of the Hudson River. The trails are a mix of long glades and advanced intermediate terrain. Sagamore is the longest black diamond run on the mountain.
Only a few hundred yards from the village of North Creek, the Ski Bowl is serviced by the Hudson Triple Chair and has a community bunny slope serviced by its own short triple chair. The Ski Bowl is open only during midwinter due to its low base elevation and limited snowmaking.
The North Creek Ski Bowl is the site of the original skiing at Gore. Many of the trails at the Ski Bowl are the historic runs of 1930's North Creek, including several gladed runs. Rising almost 1,000 ft from the outskirts of town to the summit of Little Gore Mountain, the skiing at the Ski Bowl is surprisingly legitimate.
A new development is planned for the ski bowl, but at present only a few homes have been built.
Only 11% of Gore's terrain is marked as easiest. Consequently, beginners sometimes feel confined to either the North Creek Ski Bowl or the Northwoods Area. Venturing to the top of gondola or to the one green trail on the North Side (Pete Gay) are about the only two places outside the immediate base areas that are beginner-friendly. Still, even this limited beginner ski terrain is more than some of Gore's competitors like Sugarbush or Whiteface.
First timers learn to ski on the Bear Cub run or Starting Gate, both of which are served by their own surface lifts. The "Snow Train" magic carpet is particularly popular with kids. Beginners then progress to the Sunway chair where they can ski the lower portion of the Sunway trail or exit at the midstation to ski Jamboree.
The Pete Gay trail on the North Side is the only upper mountain beginner run that doesn't head back to the base area. The trail's gentle pitch, dips and rolls make it a favorite with novices.
The North Creek Ski Bowl is another option for novices, but there are no beginner trails leading down into the Ski Bowl from the main mountain, so once there a car is necessary to novices to return to the main base area. The Village Slopes is a fantastic bunny slope (something lacking from the main mountain) and is serviced by its own triple chairlift. After mastering their technique on the Village Slopes, beginners can progress to the Peaceful Valley trail from the summit of Little Gore Mountain.
The Gore Mountain Ski School is housed in the Northwoods Lodge near the base of the gondola.
The bulk of Gore Mountain's intermediate skiing is found on the frontside of the mountain in the Northwoods Area. Intermediate skiers can explore all of Gore's seven faces, but many blue skiers will stick to the Northwoods. Were this part of the mountain a separate resort, it would be impressive in its own right. Two main lifts come up from the base - the Northwoods 8-passenger gondola and the new Adirondack II Express Quad. The gondola goes to the very summit of Bear Mountain while the quad goes to the Saddle Lodge.
The runs from the summit to the Saddle are amongst the weakest on the mountain. They receive a tremendous amount of traffic and are invariably scraped down to ice. Foxlair is classified as a blue, but its final pitch down to just below the saddle is on the more difficult end of the intermediate spectrum.
There are a dozen or so blue trails below the saddle which can be skied in various sections. Crossing from one run to another provides a seemingly limitless number of possible runs, all of which are long enough to be legburners.
Twister is the class of the group, zigging and zagging its way uninterrupted from just below the Saddle Lodge. Under the quad chair, Showcase follows the liftline with a series of dips and rolls. The lift towers are numbered and whipping down the trail at high speed can feel like a countdown to liftoff. Another favorite run is the oft-overlooked Quicksilver trail.
The Staightbook Area has only two intermediate options - Cloud and Upper Steilhang. One of the earliest trails on Gore Mountain, Cloud is accessed by poling around the old gondola summit building and past the entrance to Rumor. Cloud runs from the summit until splitting into Lower Cloud and Headwaters. Upper Steilhang runs parallel to Cloud, but most skiers inexplicably pole over to Cloud instead of the far more interesting (and less crowded) Upper Steilhang. Both trails ski to the North and offer spectacular views of the Adirondack High Peaks in the distance. The trails merge into Lower Cloud near the entrance to the super steep Lower Steilhang.
Turning right from Cloud on Headwaters brings skiers back to the Straightbrook Quad. Continuing straight on Lower Cloud returns skiers to the Saddle Lodge. Be foreward - the last several hundred yards of Lower Cloud are extremely flat. It is advisable to carry as much speed as possible from the Straightbrook Area to reach the Saddle without skating or poling.
From the bottom of the Straightbrook Quad, intermediates can follow the Tannery trail to reach the Topridge Triple.
Topridge has only one intermediate option - Pine Knot. This trail is the main route from the top of gondola (Bear Mountain) to the advanced steeps of the Straightbrook Area. As a result, it is often icy. Moreover, Pine Knot's series of double-fall line turns makes it amongst the harder blue runs on the hill.
After reaching the Straightbrook Quad, blue skiers can turn left to head down the much flatter and wider Tannery trail to reach the Topridge Triple. From there, the Topridge Triple carries them back to the summit of Bear Mountain and the gondola summit station.
The High Peaks Area is home to some of Gore's most interesting blue terrain. The trails in the High Peaks are amongst the oldest on the mountain. They were cut by hand and follow the natural topography of the hill while offering long views of tallest peaks of the Adirondacks in the distance.
Dropping off to the skier's left from Lower Cloud are two short blue runs which are accessed via the Cloud trail - Santanoni and Little Cloud. These short headwalls empty into a runout that leads to the High Peaks Double. Continuing past the chairlift is the flat Wood Out connector trail which leads to the North Side.
The North Side is home to Gore's gentlest intermediate terrain. Many blue skiers head straight for the gondola and run head-on into some of the mountain's more challenging intermediate terrain. Instead, low level intermediates would be advised to take the Adirondack Express from the base to the Saddle Lodge. There, the entrance to the more gentle slopes of the North Side are just a few hundred feet away.
In addition to being overlooked by intermediate skiers anxious to ride the gondola, the North Side is bypassed by veteran Gore skiers who prefer the more challenging terrain elsewhere on the hill. As a result the North Side's blue runs are generally uncrowded. Additionally because all the runs are north-facing, they tend to hold the snow better. Low traffic and cold snow combine for outstanding surface conditions. Low level skiers will enjoy the diminished crowds, lessened crowds and better snow. The only downside to the North Side is relatively limited vertical drop (750') and a slow lift.
Of the three blue trails on the North Side, Tahawus is the least straight and most interesting. The beginner Pete Gay trail on the skier's left of the pod is the second best trail out of the set.
The Echo trail on Burnt Ridge is one of the best blue runs on the mountain. It is a long intermediate cruiser with no trail junctions. This allows for high speed turns the whole length of the trail.
From the top of the Burnt Ridge Express Quad, skiers can head over the back and down to the base of the North Quad on the newly-cut Hedges trail. This fun short trail meanders through a grove of trees that overhang the trail, giving it a tunnel-like feel.
Many intermediate skiers bypass the North Creek Ski Bowl altogether. After a long, slow flat pole over on the Pipeline Traverse, many a blue skier who had intended to head for the Ski Bowl simply decided to head to the base of Burnt Ridge instead. In skipping the left turn over the bridge to the Ski Bowl, however, they missed out on some of Gore's least crowded and most relaxing intermediate skiing. The Oak Ridge trail from the top of the Ski Bowl links with Moxham for a fun blue run through the hardwoods.
If Gore's expert skiing had a shortcoming, it would be a lack of sustained vertical. Unlike sister resort Whiteface whose black diamond runs last several thousand feet, the biggest vertical drop of a true steep run at Gore is under 1,000 ft. However, Gore lacks in sustained vertical, it more than makes up for in pitch. Its runs are steeper than anything at Whiteface outside its off-piste terrain in the Slides.
The Northwoods does not have any black diamond trails. It does, however, have a handful of advanced tree runs. The best of these is Twister Glades, which is amongst the longest gladed runs in the East.
The Straightbrook Area has the highest concentration of Gore's advanced terrain. Although the vertical drop is short (only 900'), the runs are plenty challenging.
The steepest of these runs is The Rumor, the steepest trail in the East according to the resort. It is an unrelentingly steep pitch that requires the ability to carve sharp, short radius turns into hardpack. When The Rumor isn't hardpack (and it almost always is), it is a bump field. In either case, it is a monsterously difficult trail. A sign at the top proclaims"Falling will result in an uncontrollable slide to the bottom." Well said.
Directly next to The Rumor is its sister trail - Lies. Lies is less steep than Rumor, but its double fall line pitch makes it a more interesting and, quite frankly, better trail. Just before the entrance to Lies is a small, almost hidden sign for Upper Darby. This double black diamond is rarely open because it has no snowmaking and is a rocky, steep chute. However, catch it early on a powder day and it's fantastic because so few skiers find it.
On the other side of the Straightbrook Area are two more black diamond slopes - Hawkeye and Chatiemac. Hawkeye is an unremarkable black diamond run that cuts across the face of the mountain and down to the Straightbrook Quad. Chatiemac, on the other hand, is Gore's best single black diamond run. It zigzags its way the entire 900' with consistent pitch and narrow, fun turns. It's classic New England skiing.
The Double Barrel "glade" (really just the old red gondola lift line) parallels The Rumor and it is quite steep. The entrance often requires a short drop in from one of the old gondola pilings.
The trails of the Topridge Area face south meaning that the runs catch the early morning sunshine. They are best skied in the morning before they soften up too much. Of the two black diamond runs, we prefer Topridge to Uncas because of its steep final headwall.
Even shorter than the Straightbrook Area, the "secret" steeps of the High Peaks Chair are an often-overlooked part of the Gore experience. Lower Steilhang is a narrow, winding trail with several rock faces and steep pitches. The several single black diamond runs next to it are less steep, but more skied. These runs are rarely groomed.
The North Side has no black trails, but is home to the Tahawus Glades. Beginning atop Burnt Ridge, these glades feature well-spaced trees and two very good steep pitches in the top section. Prior to the cutting of the Hedges trail, Tahawus Glades was the only way to get to the bottom of the North Side from the top of Burnt Ridge. Now that there is a cleared run, however, even fewer skiers venture into this outstanding gladed run.
The Burnt Ridge is home to Gore's longest black diamond run - Sagamore. Although the trail drops 1,300'+ from start to finish it has several dead flat stretches and is certainly not a Whiteface-style sustained steep run from top to bottom. The final pitch is the most interesting because of several small cliffs on the skier's right. Just look for the orange poles to huck these small (3-5' cliffs).
The North Creek Ski Bowl has one black diamond trail - 46er. Unfortunately, there is no snowmaking on 46-er so it is rarely open. When it is open, though it is a suberbly steep liftline steep. The tree skiing in the Ski Bowl is also excellent when natural snowfall allows.
One of the best kept-secrets at Gore is its expansive network of gladed terrain. Gore boasts an impressive set of tree runs, including the longest glades in the East.
Not only does Gore have a large number of glades, but the tree-skiing it does have is incredibly varied. Every face of the mountain has glades and Gore does a wonderful job of maintaining (i.e. cutting) the underbrush along these routes. Most of its glades are for experts, but a handful are marked blue for intermediates. One of the best things about Gore's glades is how incredibly differently they ski. The glades near the Summit (e.g. Chatiemac and Straighbrook Glades) are a mix of conifers and hardwoods that feature tighter, steeper lines and small cliff bands. Farther down the hill, the lower mountain glades (e.g. Chatterbox, Twister, Boreas, Cirque Glades, together with the tree runs at the Ski Bowl) are comprised of hardwoods. They feature more widely spaced trees and are less steep. These low angle glades are still difficult, however, because their length makes them true legburners.
Our favorite glade is undoubtedly the Cirque Glades, a long and moderately pitched slopes that offers stunning views of an ancient rock formation. The entrance to the glade through is a fantastic keyhole notch in the rocks accessible from the Burnt Ridge Quad. Another favorite is the oft-overlooked Chatiemac Glade in the Straightbrook Area. Chatiemac Glade is one of the steeper tree runs on the hill and the line on the skier's left funnels through a narrow opening in a breathtaking ice waterfall.
New for 2014-2015 is the almost mile-long Abenaki Glade. This run (which next year will be partially converted into a standard trail) faces due north and holds the snow better than just about anywhere else on the hill. It also allows skiers coming from Burnt Ridge to avoid the long, flat Pipeline Traverse if heading down to the Ski Bowl.
A few backcountry ski trails do exist near the resort. Several of these backcountry trails were amongst the original ski trails during Gore’s “Ride Up, Ski Down” days before World War Two. They are maintained by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and a parking lot is available at the trailhead off Barton Mines Road. The Garnet Hill Lodge can arrange guided backcountry ski experience on Raymond Brook Trail on Barton Mines Road back to the hotel.
Gore's base lodge serves typical cafeteria food. There is ample seating even at peak times, At the far end of the base lodge is the Tannery Pub, Gore's bar. Service can be slow at peak times, but the food is good and the beer is cold. The bar features some of Gore's original red gondola cabins which have been split in half and transformed into booths.
The Saddle Lodge is Gore's only upper mountain eatery. Located near the summit terminus of the Adirondack II Express. On clear days, the Saddle Lodge's 2 story glass windows offer tremendous views of the Adirondack High Peaks. Despite the building's humble appearance, the food is surprisingly noteworthy. A slider bar serves small hamburgers, buffalo chicken sandwiches, and pulled pork sandwiches with spicy mustard and onions.
The village of North Creek was New York’s original ski town. Set directly upon the banks of the Hudson River, the beautiful village came to prominence as a destination for first ski trains from New York City in the 1930’s. Thanks to a long access road to the Barton garnet mine high up on Gore and Pete Gay Mountains, skiers were able to enjoy “Ride Up, Ski Down” service right from the train station with the train cars serving as the original lodge.
Much has changed since the early days of skiing at Gore and North Creek is overlooked by many Gore skiers because it is about a mile past the resort’s access road. Today, the North Creek Ski Bowl lifts are just on the outskirts of town. It’s a village teetering on the edge of a fullscale revival, but not quite there yet. A few hotels, shops, restaurants and bars line the main street, but so do a few vacant storefronts.
For shopping, we recommend a stop at the Hudson River Trading Company on Main Street, which has Adirondack themed gifts and novelties. The reproduction 1930's Gore trails signs are a fantastic keepsake.
The village of North Creek is home to several restaurants and bars. The Trappers Tavern at the Copperfield Inn is a popular choice for burgers and draft beers. Just outside of town is Basil and Wick's. Basil and Wick's is housed in a large Adirondack log-style building astride Route 28. It is an apres-ski favorite with local skiers for its reasonably-priced food and large bar with flat screen tvs. The Tannery Pub in the Gore base lodge is the most happening apres-ski hangout.
For breakfast in North Creek there is Cafe Sarah on Main Street. We recommend their pastries and breakfast burritos. If driving in from I-87, we recommend a stop at Jacob & Tony's Meat Store of the North. Their sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches won our award for the "Best Breakfast Sandwich in Ski Country."
Nightlife options in North Creek are limited. Downtown North Creek has two main bars. The first, The Barking Spider is a narrow tavern with a fantastic sand shuffleboard table, relatively inexpensive food and drinks. It is a favorite with Gore staff and ski patrol, but be prepared to bring your own party since the bar is relatively uncrowded apart from apres-ski.
For a more upscale option in downtown North Creek try BarVino, a wine bar offering tapas fare. BarVino has a great selection of wines and beer on tap. Portions are more generous and more reasonably priced than many tapas restaurants.
Gore offers snowtubing at the North Creek Ski Bowl on 800 ft. runs served by a handle tow. The tubing lanes are lighting for night operation. The cost is $18 for 2 hours. Private parties are available in the lodge. Lighting for evening activity. Children must be 36" or taller.
2017 UPDATE: We are told that Gore is no longer offering tubing. Please check ahead before visiting. Tubing is available, however, at nearby West Mountain.
The Saratoga and North Creek Railroad runs a winter service from Saratoga to the North Creek train depot in downtown North Creek. The scenic 1 hr 45 min journey winds along the banks of the Hudson River. Food and cocktails are available on the train as is an observation car.
Garnett Hill is one of the Northeast's premier nordic ski centers. Garnett Hill in North River, just 10-15 minutes from Gore.