West Mountain is a favorite Adirondack day trip area for locals in the Lake George and Albany areas. With a respectable 1,010' drop and value pricing, it is popular with families and ski race programs.
West Mountain is a medium sized ski area located in the Southern Adirondacks. Since it opened in 1961, it's been a staple of the local community, but it's probably most well known to most skiers as the mountain visible from I-87 on the way to Vermont. Few out of state skiers bother to stop at what is primarily a community ski hill. They're missing out on some very decent and affordable skiing with long views of the Green Mountains and the Lake Champlain Valley.
West's main clientele are locals and children's race teams so the resort tends to be a ghost town while the sun is shining, but comes alive at night. One novel feature offered by West Mountain is a two hour lift ticket. It's perfect for making a couple quick turns at lunch or after work.
The ski area has two main faces - West and Northwest. Both faces are littered with lots of short connector trails, a clear attempt by the resort to up its trail count. However, these connector trails are so short that they don't give the feeling of interrupting the flow of the main downhill arteries. They're more playful distractions that children particularly seem to enjoy.
The West portion of the resort is the "main" area and is the hub of activity. The Summit Chair (a double) is the only way to the top of the mountain from the main base area. From the top an array of twisty blue and green trails await. The Northwest face is served by a triple chair and offers slightly less vertical, but is generally less crowded. The runs on the Northwest side are wider and straighter, making for great high speed turns.
The Meadows, Outback and Frolic are the main green trails. Although the beginner terrain is limited, the handful of green runs are interesting. They swing back and forth across the face of the hill while winding through narrow ravines. At several points in the descent, a skier comes around a corner and is presented with a spectacular view of Vermont's Green Mountains in the distance.
Intermediate skiing is West Mountain's strong suit. A majority of the resort (55%) is marked blue and even the handful of black trails are within the reach of most average intermediate skiers. Intermediate skiers can choose between twisty blue runs on the West face or straighter, wider runs on the Northwest face. Inexpensive season passes and two-hour lift tickets make West Mountain a great place to work on technique, particularly on the less crowded Northwest face.
On the lower mountain, racers take to The Face. On weekday evenings, this short lower mountain race trail comes alive with dozens of kids ripping it up in full sight of the main base lodge. It's community skiing at its finest.
There are only three black diamonds at West Mountain and none of them will put much fear into a real expert. In fact, all three are skiablefor confident intermediates. Expert skiers would be better served driving another 20 minutes north to Hickory Ski Center or another 45 minutes north to Gore Mountain.
No one would mistake West Mountain for Aspen. The base lodge facilities are antiquated and food is typical, but inexpensive cafeteria fare. Upstairs, the East Slope Bar and Eatery is the main choice for on-slope apres ski. The lower level of the lodge is full of arcade games that are popular with children, but seem strangely out of place at a ski resort.
West Mountain has no base village, only day lodge facilities.
The towns of Queenbury and Glens Falls are nearby options for overnight accommodations. Slightly farther to the North, Lake George is also an option, but be advised that many of the hotels in Lake George are closed in the winter.
A very popular option for families visiting West Mountain is the Great Escape Lodge, which features an indoor water park.
West's snow tubing program is incredibly popular. The resort offers lighted tubing runs.
West Mountain is three miles from Exit 18 on I-87 (Adirondack Northway). The drive from Albany is approximately 50 minutes.
Top: 1,470 ft
Bottom: 460 ft
Vertical: 1,010 ft
Skiable Area: 124 ac
Annual Snowfall: 80 in
Lifts: 5 (3 chairlifts, 2 surface lifts)
+ easily accessible from Albany metropolitan area
+ Adirondack's largest night skiing operation
- slow lifts
- spartan base facilities
- low elevation