Greek Peak Ski Area
Greek Peak ski area's many faces and pods of terrain makes this small Central New York resort feel bigger than it is. With three distinct peaks and backside terrain, Greek Peak offers a ski experience that has made it an attractive, less-expensive alternative to skiing in the Catskills or Adirondacks.
Greek Peak's ski terrain is laid out across a wide horseshoe shaped basin. A small stream separates the base area from the chairlifts and it's just a short walk from the parking lot or lodge to the lifts. Four chairlifts depart from the central base area and radiate out to each of three separate peaks.
The peak to the looker's right has the bulk of Greek Peak's skiable terrain. This area is serviced by two lifts - a new quad chair (Chair 1A) and a double lift (Chair 1). Here, skiers will find four parralel advanced slopes, which become progressively steeper until crescendoing at Olympian. The 40 degree pitch of Olympian's headwall a test even for seasoned skiers. Also accessible on this face are several beginner trails and a wide intermediate slope (Elysian Fields), which is the first slope opened by the resort each season.
Greek Peak's central peak is recessed farthest from the base area. The bottom terminus of the double chair which services this terrain is actually a few hundred yards uphill from the true bottom of the mountain. As a consequence, it is best to ski down to the bottom of the double chair from above rather than trying to access it by walking or poling up from below. At the summit, the short, but steep Atlas trail is the obvious choice as it is directly under the lift and provides access to the off-piste skiing in Aesop's Glade.
On the looker's left side of the base area is Greek Peak's learning terrain. A gentle bunny hill - the aptly-named Alpha Slope - is serviced by its own double chair (Chair 3). At the top of the double chair skiers can continue forward over a small rise to the base of another double chair (Chair 4). Chair 4 provides access to several steep mogul runs as well as beginner and intermediate terrain. The top terminus of Chair 4 is also the access point to the resort's backside terrain - Greek Peak East.
Greek Peak East offers a handful of long cruisers that are unquestionably the resort's most interesting intermediate trails. Arcadian Gate and Mars hills are a welcome relief from some of the straighter blue runs on the front side. A few trees remain unfelled in the center of the trails, adding a interest and providing a more New England feel. As both the base of Chair 4 and the entrance to Greek Peak East are somewhat hidden, the crowds tend to be smaller on this part of the mountain.
Greek Peak East is serviced by its own triple lift (Chair 5) and has a small parking lot at its base. Skiers with season passes and multi-day tickets can drive down the road slightly from the main base area to park right next to the chairlift. However, there is no ticket window at this base.
Greek Peak Beginner Skiing
At Greek Peak, beginner skiers have freedom to explore the entire resort. Greek Peak offers beginner runs from the top of each of its four peaks, with the longest run topping out at a mile and a half.
Greek Peak's learn to ski terrain is located near the base lodge. A magic carpet lift services the Boardwalk trail for true first timers, while Chair 3 services the Alpha Slope - Greek Peak's main bunny slope.
Greek Peak's three faces are connected by a series of gentle novice trails. From the top of the quad (Chair 1A), Karyatis Way winds its way down through a forest of pine and hardwoods before splitting into several green options at the base of the intermediate Elysian Fields run. The alternate green run from the top of the quad - Epicurus Way - connects the looker's right peak with the center peak.
Chair 2's main beginner run is Castor - a wide green slope perfect for improving technique. Novices have two options from the top of Chair 4. The first option, Marathon, bring skiers back to the center peak. The second, Mars Hill, takes skiers to the top of Chair 5 rising up from Greek Peak East. From there, the Poseiden trail returns skiers to the main base or the Crisaean Way trail brings skiers to the base of the triple.
Beginners will find that most of Greek Peak's green trails serve more connectors than as interesting runs in their own right. They tend to be flat and somewhat dull. The best of this undistinguished pack is the lone green run to Greek Peak East (Crisaean Way to Lower Arcadian Gate).
Greek Peak Intermediate Skiing
Intermediate skiers will enjoy Greek Peak's mainly open blue slopes. Each face of the mountain offers "more difficult" runs and several of Greek Peak's black diamonds are suitable for advanced intermediate skiers.
Intermediate skiing at Greek Peak consists more of open slopes than narrow cruisers. Due in part to the resort's limited vertical drop, most of the blue trails follow the fall-line rather than having a series of switchbacks; there simply is not enough vertical or pitch to warrant cutting trails rather than slopes. The resort rightly saved its best sustained steep pitches for the four advanced trails off of the quad (Chair 1A).
The Elysian Fields/Stoic combination off of the quad provides sustained advanced intermediate pitch for the entirety of its descent. The skier's right portion of Elysian Fields is often allowed to become moguled and is not reached as easily by the snowguns on the skier's left. As a result, when conditions are good the right side of Elysian Fields becomes a fantastic blue bump run - perfect for practicing mogul technique.
We also love Upper Arcadian Gate from the top of Chair 4 heading down to Greek Peak East. The resort has left a handful trees in the middle of the run which make for fun high speed turns through between these widely-spaced hardwoods.
However, the best intermediate trail at Greek Peak is also likely the shortest. Lower Atlas is easily missed. The entrance to the skier's right of the beginner Pollux trail is small. Lower Atlas is a brief, but fun and narrow trail that empties out near the base of Chair 4. It's a short shot, but it is narrow and hugs the natural topography, making for a fun ride.
Greek Peak Expert Skiing
For a resort of Greek Peak's size, it has remarkably good expert skiing. The double black diamond Olympian trail is one of the steepest runs in New York State.
Somewhat surprisingly for a resort which caters to a family market, Greek Peak has quite decent advanced skiing. The resort receives enough natural snowfall to allow for soft moguls to form in midwinter. Thankfully, Greek Peak does not groom down all of its mogul runs, but permits a good number of trails to bump up.
The greatest concentration of advanced skiing is off of the quad (Chair 1A). Here, skiers will find Greek Peak's signature expert run - Olympian. With a headwall whose pitch approaches 40 degrees, it's fair to call Olympian steep. It is certainly the steepest trail in the region and amongst the steeper pitches in New York State. After the headwall, the trail flattens out before one final plunge ends in a low-angle runout to the base. Expert skiers will appreciate the fact that Greek Peak will only grooms the top section infrequently; having a truly steep mogul run, certainly helps the resort attract families and groups with mixed ability level skiers.
Directly next to Olympian is Odyssey. Odyssey is narrower than Olympian but not quite as steep. Unfortunately it is often closed for ski racing. Odyssey serves as the home race course to the Cornell Alpine Ski Team and it is common to see collegiate racers running gates on the trail.
The last two advanced trails served by the quad are Iliad and Alcmene. Alcmene is a narrow liftline black diamond that follows the quad liftline. Iliad is a wide slope under Chair 1. The resort often grooms only half of the Iliad trail, giving skiers the option of carving high speed turns or trying their luck at the moguls. The groomed section is appropriate for strong intermediate skiers, who may struggle with the top pitch, but will find the bottom 3/4 of the run to be decidedly blue in character.
Another great set of expert runs is found off Chair 4. Zeus - the liftline run - is short, but has a tremendous first pitch. Greek Peak's newest double black diamond trail, Hercules, is the second steepest run and affords a great view of the Hope Lake Lodge on the way down. Hercules, however, is a wide trail and does not hold the snow particularly well. It tends to become icy and windswept when conditions are less favorable, but is a favorite in the spring.
One advantage to skiing off Chair 4 is it allows for faster laps. Greek Peak's lifts are notoriously slow, but Zeus and Hercules have very little run out. The shorter line length means more vertical.
Greek Peak also has a number of gladed expert and advanced runs.
Greek Peak Backcountry & Off Piste
Greek Peak's off piste skiing is limited three gladed runs. There is no backcountry skiing of any note available at or near the resort.
Although all of Greek Peak's gladed trails are rated as double black diamond, these tree runs are generally suitable for advanced or even strong intermediate skiers. Greek Peak does an excellent job clearing underbrush and thinning out its glades, which helps make them skiable for much of the season with Greek Peak's 120"+ of natural snowfall.
Greek Peak's largest glade area, Aesop's Glade holds the snow better than any trail on the mountain. Unlike Labyrinth and Also's Glade which offer only two to three different cleared lines, Aesop's Glade is a true tree-skiing area.
The glade is divided in two by a workroad. Be sure to watch out for this flat spot because popping out of the woods into the flat cat track can be a jarring compression. The upper section is challenging, but mellows out below the cat track into a well-spaced glade suitable for advanced intermediates.
Greek Peak's newest glade, Labyrinth is sandwiched between the expert Zeus trail and intermediate Trojan trail. It is prehaps Greek Peak's most technical glade and although the pitch is not steep, it is often riddled-with moguls and should is not suitable for those uncomfortable making tight turns.
Located on the back side of the mountain, Also's Glade is accessible from the top of the triple chair serving Greek Peak East. It receives the most direct sunlight of any of Greek Peak's glades. As a consequence, cover can be an issue in the spring or in leaner snow years, but the snow is softer in mid-winter.
The run parallels the intermediate Mars Hills trail and the two runs have similar grade. The glade has been cleared from a hardwood forest and it follows a set of twists and turns before popping out just above the final pitch of Mars Hills. The most difficult run on the backside is a combination of Also's Glade and then a quick cutover at the exit of the glade to ski the moguls on Arethusa Way.
Greek Peak Mountain Restaurants
Greek Peak has a cafeteria and bar. Both are located in the base area, a short walk from the quad chairlift. A new sundeck overlooking the slopes is planned for winter 2014-2015.
The Taverna cafeteria in Greek Peak's main base lodge. It serves traditional ski food - hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and hot chocolate.
Trax Pub & Grill
Trax Pub & Grill is Greek Peak's newly-remodeled base lodge bar. It features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the slopes and flat-screen tvs. The wood-fired pizza is a popular choice as are the almost two dozen beers on tap. The selection includes many local microbrews, including those from nearby Ithaca Beer Co., famous for its "Flower Power IPA." Trax has indoor seating for 250 people and it's a great place to watch the game.
For the upcoming winter, the resort is opening a new 7,000 square foot outdoor heated deck overlooking the slopes.
Greek Peak Village
Greek Peak has a small condo village on a hill across the street from the ski area. The Hope Lake Lodge and Cascades Waterpark is also located across from the ski resort and adjacent to the condo complexes.
Greek Peak's village is located across the street from the ski area and is the site of Greek Peak's accomodations. The village does not have a pedestrian core, but rather is a collection of condominiums anchored by the Hope Lake Lodge.
The city of Cortland is the closest nearby town and offers some bars and restaurants. Slightly farther away, the city of Ithaca, home to Cornell University, has a pedestrian downtown on the Ithaca Commons.
Greek Peak Restaurants & Bars
Apart from the food at the ski resort itself, Greek Peak has several on-site restaurants in the Hope Lake Lodge. Nearby Cortland offers more dining options, while Ithaca (25-30 mins away) has a number of world-renowned restaurants. Apres-ski is limited to the base lodge bar.
Dining at Greek Peak Resort in the Hope Lake Lodge
Acorn Grill - the main restaurant at the Hope Lake Lodge, the family-friendly Acorn Grill serves dinner 7 days a week. The food is simple, American fare.
Bobcat Lounge - the bar at the Hope Lake Lodge, the Bobcat Lounge specializes in local craft brews and light fare.
Edgewater Cafe at Cascades Indoor Waterpark - located in Greek Peak's indoor waterpark, the Edgewater Cafe serves pizza, hamburgers, fries and kid-friendly fare.
Dining in Cortland
The nearby city of Cortland offers a number of fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, A&W Root Beer, and Applebee's.
Dining in Ithaca
Boatyard Grill - located on the Cayuga Inlet at the base of Lake Cayuga, The Boatyard Grill is Ithaca's only waterfron restaurant.
Moosewood Restaurant - famous for its vegetarian cookbook, the Moosewood Restaurant has been proving meatless can still be delicious since 1973.
Shortstop Deli - world-famous for its hot subs, Shortstop Deli and its "Hot Truck" have been featured on the Food Network. Open 24/7/365, Shortstop is a popular choice with Cornell students. We recommend the "SUI" - hold the mushrooms.
Greek Peak Apres-Ski
Apres-ski is limited to the Bobcat Lounge (in the Hope Lake Lodge) and the Trax Pub and Grill in the main base lodge. Ithaca has a lively bar scene, both downtown near the Ithaca Commons and near Cornell University in Collegetown.
Greek Peak Other Activities
Greek Peak has a wide variety of indoor and outdoor off-hill activities, so the fun doesn't need to stop when the skiing ends.
Greek Peak Cross Country Skiing
The nordic center at Greek Peak offers 10 miles of trails for all levels of cross country skiers and snowshoers. The trails wind their way around Hope Lake and near the Hope Lake Lodge. Trail passes are $9 on weekdays ($6 children) and $14 on weekends ($9 children). Cross country skis and snowshoes are available for rent.
Greek Peak Outdoor Adventure Center
The Greek Peak Adventure Center provides year-round fun for the whole family. The adventure center features the Nor'Easter mountain coaster, zip lines, a ropes coures, a Euro Bungee Zone (half trampoline/half Bungee jumping), and a 9-lane snow tubing center.
Cascades Indoor Water Park
The highlight of the Hope Lake Lodge is the Cascades Indoor Waterpark. Open year-round, the waterpark includes a wave pool, body waterslides, an activity tower with a 500-gallon deluge bucket, a 3-story tube waterslides, a toddler activity pool, indoor/outdoor hot tub and an indoor/outdoor heated pool.
While kids are playing in the indoor water park, parents can enjoy a wide arrany of treatments at the Waterfalls Spa. The spa offers a full-service menu of options, including massages, waxing, manicures and pedicures.
Cornell University is 30 minutes from Greek Peak in Ithaca. The Ivy League university is home to several nationally-ranked sports teams, including its mens' lacrosse and ice hockey squads. Tours of the beautiful campus - complete with waterfalls and Ithaca's famous gorges - are available every day.
Fingerlakes Wine Country
The Fingerlakes region is home to dozens of wineries, many of which are within a short drive of the resort. Seneca and Cayuga Lake wineries are famous for their Riesling and Gewurtztraminer.