Hunter Mountain Ski Area
Hunter is the Jekyll and Hyde of ski resorts. Hunter is the most well-known of all the Catskills ski areas and unquestionably the most popular. All that popularity comes at a price, however – crowds. When it’s crowded Hunter can be one of the worst ski experiences in the East. When it’s not jam-packed, it’s hard to argue it isn’t the best skiing near New York City. In one of the greatest ironies in the world of skiing, Hunter chose to name many of its trails after a handful of famously congested New York City roads. It’s hard to say which is more dangerous, merging onto “Belt Parkway” at Hunter or in Queens; Hunter’s modern lift system keeps liftlines short, but the slopes packed.
Catch Hunter when it’s quieter (midweek) and it’s got some fantastic terrain. There are three main faces: Hunter One, Hunter Mountain, and Hunter West. Hunter One is home to much of the resort’s beginner and intermediate terrain. The main face boasts a new express six-pack lift (The Kaatskill Flyer), while Hunter West has some of the steepest double black diamond trails in the Catskills.
Hunter’s most impressive feature is its snowmaking. The self-proclaimed “Most Powerful Snowmaking System in the World” is a marvel to behold. With snowmaking covering a full 100% of its trails, no one (and we mean no one) recovers from an adverse weather event as fast at Hunter. Rain? A day later it’s like it never even happened.
Hunter Mountain Beginner Skiing
Hunter One is the best place for beginners at Hunter. A cluster of green trails on the bottom half of Hunter One is serviced by the “C” and “E” lifts. The runs are gently sloped and when the crowds are reasonable, it’s a great place to learn. Another popular option is a pod of green runs on the main face served by the Broadway Limited Quad. There is no beginner terrain from the summit or on Hunter West.
Hunter Mountain Intermediate Skiing
The intermediate skiing at Hunter is weak. The upper reaches of Hunter One and the lower half of the main face below the top terminus of the “D” lift have a number of generally bland blue slopes. Frequent trail crossing make it difficult to get into a rhythm. The main blue run from the summit – Belt Parkway – is, as mentioned above, often as crowded as its namesake. It also was blasted from the rock face of the mountain making for a very engineered ski experience complete with lots of orange netting.
Hunter Mountain Expert Skiing
It’s hard to argue that Hunter has the best expert terrain in the Catskills. Even with stiff competition from Plattekill and the upper half of Windham, Hunter wins our nod for the best expert skiing in the Catskills. Hunter West in particular shines. West Way, Annapurna and Clair’s Way are amongst the toughest runs in the region.
Be sure also not to miss the expert trails off “F” lift. While most of the crowd flocks to Hunter West, the locals know there’s some great skiing to be had on K-27 and in the Milky Glades.
Hunter Mountain Restaurants & Bars
Hunter has a number of mountain restaurants, both in the base lodges and on the mountain. VanWinkle’s Restaurant at the Kaatskill Mountain Club is the nicest of the bunch, offering traditional American fare and waitress service. The Marketplace Food Court
in the main base lodge is the most popular choice for a traditional ski lunch. The Coppertree Restaurant
serves a variety of mainly BBQ style dishes from ribs to pulled pork and brisket.
Other base lodge options include Jerry’s Deli (sandwiches), Santini’s (pizza and Italian),
(pastries and hot beverages), The Sushi Bar, and Andre’s Slopeside Barbecue.
At 3,200′ atop the resort, Scottie’s Summit Lodge Cafe provides good food and long views of the Catskills.
Hunter Mountain Village
Hunter does not have a traditional village. There is some slopeside lodging available (see below), but the shops and restaurants are limited to what’s found in the day lodge.
Hunter Mountain Accommodation
Hunter offers on site lodging in the Kaatskill Mountain Club Pinnacle, Liftside and Trailside Condominiums. All are located ski in, ski out to Hunter’s ski trails. The newest and nicest is the Kaatskill Mountain Club, built only a few years ago. These units are the best ski in, ski out accommodations in the Catskills.
Getting to Hunter Mountain
Hunter is a two to three hour drive from the New York City metro area. Hunter is also approximately one hour south of Albany. In winter, bus service is available from New York City.
Hunter Mountain Resort Statistics
Top: 3,200 ft
Bottom: 1,600 ft
Vertical: 1,600 ft
Skiable Area: 240 ac
Annual Snowfall: 120 in
Lifts: 12 (9 chairlifts, 3 surface lifts)
Hunter Mountain Pros and Cons
+ big mountain skiing near to NYC
+ modern lift system
+ long vertical on most runs
– weekend crowds can be overwhelming
– lack of charm
– intermediate terrain lacks character