Windham Mountain ski resort offers a family-friendly ski experience close to New York City. At under 3 hours from Manhattan, Windham is a popular choice for New York metro area families looking to avoid the mayhem at nearby Hunter Mountain
Windham is far enough north and set on a big enough mountain be considered real skiing by Eastern standards. 1,600' of vertical drop is tied for tops in the Catskills with Hunter Mountain. Windham has a decidedly more low key vibe, however. The resort itself caters to a more upscale crowd and features like valet parking and upgraded dining facilities are quite popular.
Rather confusingly, all of Windham's 53 trails begin with the letter "W" so consulting a trail map is particularly key. Accidentally ending up on Wedel (double black) when intending to ski Wanderer (green) is not a good situation.
The skiable terrain is separated into two distinct pods. To the looker's left side of the resort is the East Peak. Serviced by its own express quad, the trails on the East Peak side are long, uninterrupted runs for all classes of skiers. The vast majority of Windham's single black diamonds are located on the East Peak, so before trying out the double black diamonds on the other side of the resort, a warm-up run on one of East Peak's three black diamonds is advisable. Also of note on East Peak is Wanderer - Windham's longest green run which is a must-ski for beginners.
The looker's right side of the resort is the "main" portion of the resort. Here skiers find all of Windham's legitimately steep double black diamond expert terrain and the bulk of the intermediate skiing. These runs, served by the Whirlwind Express Quad, are Windham's longest continuous runs at almost the full 1,600' of the resort's vertical. The double black diamond runs are essentially steep headwalls with long-ish runouts.
Beginners and snowboarders have their own area near the base serviced by the Whiteway Triple Chair and a slightly longer green run on the opposite margin of the resort served by the Wonderama Triple Chair. Outside of these two beginner-friendly areas, the resort's novice skiing is limited to one run from the summit of East Peak (Wanderer) and the runouts of the blue trails on the Whirlwind Express side of the resort. Confident beginners can likely handle the blue-rated Wraparound trail from the main summit, which greatly expands the number of downhill options available.
Windham's intermediate skiing is amongst the best in the region. Unlike, for example Belleayre, where the blue runs are short and straight, Windham's blue runs hug the terrain through dips, bumps and curves. It's truly a strength of the resort. Wraparound is the primary blue route from the main summit and provides access to a set of short blue spur runs like Waltz and Whisper. Whistler is the best open slope at the resort for letting the throttle out.
On the East Peak side of the resort, Wedgie is a long blue run that is on the easier end of the blue spectrum.
Windham has some of the steepest runs in the Catskills. Real experts can probably skip the single black diamonds on the East Peak side of the resort. They're nothing particularly special. However, the double black diamonds (and one or two single black diamonds) on the main peak are worth the trip. Each of these six main double black diamonds ski a little differently. Old Wolverine, a single black diamond, has the most character because it was clearly hand-cut and hugs the terrain better than the other runs which are pretty much straight fall line pitches.
Wedel, Wolverine and Wheelchair are similar parallel runs. Each is steep and best skied in the morning when in the sunshine. A long, flat traverse on Wide Connection bring skiers to the two most interesting double black runs on the mountain - Wipeout and Way Out. Buckle your chinstraps for these two. Although short, they're amongst the steepest pitches in the Catskills.
Windham has a number of on-mountain dining options. Most are located in the main base lodge. The main option is the Mountain Express Cafeteria serving upgraded ski lodge fare including grab-and-go sushi. Downstairs in the breeze way is the Wunderbar coffee stand, which is particularly popular at breakfast. For apres-ski, Seasons, on the third floor of the base lodge is the place to be. In the spring, the action moves to the deck where Windham serves BBQ.
Outside of the main base lodge, Windham also offers a mid-mountain lodge at the Wheelhouse Mountain Lodge and a Waffle Hut.
Windham has a number of condominiums on-site, however does not have a base village in the traditional sense. There are no shops or restaurants besides those found in the day lodge. However, just a short 5 minute drive from the mountain is the village Windham. This quaint Catskill village does have a few shops and restaurants.
A number of condos are available for rent directly through the resort. Windham Central Reservations can be reached at +1 (800) 754-9463. Condos in Windham Village are walking distance to the slopes. Several other complexes are located within 3 miles. Additionally, the resort owns the superior three-star Winwood Inn, which has an on-site restaurant.
Windham is a two to three hour drive from most of the New York City metro area. It is also roughly an hour south of Albany. In winter, bus service is available. Please consult the resort website for additional information: http://www.windhammountain.com/groups-weddings/tour-operators/
Top: 3,100 ft
Bottom: 1,500 ft
Vertical: 1,600 ft
Skiable Area: 284 ac
Annual Snowfall: 100 in
Lifts: 12 (7 chairlifts, 5 surface lifts)
+ Big mountain skiing near to NYC
+ less crowded than nearby Hunter Mountain
+ modern lift system
+ varied terrain for all ability levels
- expensive (particularly in comparison with larger resorts in Vermont with better terrain and higher snowfall)
- homogenized feel lacking the charm of some competitors