Sugar Mountain, North Carolina – yes you are seeing this correctly- an impressive resort high in the Appalachian range of the Southeast! Been there. Done it! And really enjoyed it!
This excursion began with a road trip to Atlanta. I realized the convenience and opportunity that lay ahead. I could visit three areas that were tucked out of the way and have proved hard to reach in the past. Sugar Mountain, NC was one of those three.
The Nashville Tennessee branch of my clan had visited Sugar for Presidents’ Weekend last year. I was informed it is a decent Mountain, but too heavily trafficed on the weekends. Well it doesn’t surprise the expererienced skier. Everyone knows this is the winter week to avoid if you can’t hack the crowds!
Well advised, I left Atlanta early on morning but drove to Nashville to enjoy a Sunday with the grandchildren rather tan stand in long lift lines. Now the southern Appalachians had recent dump of over two feet. Innumerable others were undoubtedly jamming the roads to grab the snow and take advantage of the opportunity.
Indeed it was a wise move. It was a short time and easy drive to Nashville. The weather had flipped to provide a mild spring day of sunshine. We went on a bike hike of about ten miles along the Harpeth River, what a couple great meals, played some parlor games, got a great night’s rest, and left for NC early on.
The ride to Sugar was basically all comfortable interstate freeway through the scenic mountains. I arrived in good time, but the weather had reversed yet again. It was raining. No, it was pouring. But the temperature was in the 60’s! Not be panic, the snow was thick enough to survive the washout.
I made my way along the usual lines of my proper introduction. First stop: the instructor’s hut. I was arriving unannounced, but Len Bauer, Director doubly certified in Skiing and Boarding, generously made time to introduce me to the Mountain.
Sugar Mountain is a sizeable up cropping over six thousand feet above sea level. The elevation results in cold autumn temperatures that allow the snow guns to start pumping out the white stuff. Len respectfully boasts this area in North Carolina is often the first in the East to open! Yea! Often before Killington, VT! Impressive to say the least.
The approach and base area are well developed, lined with appealing suppliers that form a support and après possibilities. I couldn’t call it a full-fledged village, but the town of Boone with many more services and night-life I’m sure, is a short distance.
Len’s team runs a great program and attention is paid to the youth program, my passion. Additionally there is an adult racing program that meets every Monday evening in season. And yes, there is a 70+ category!
Almost in response to my son’s concerns, Sugar has recently added a high speed quad that whisks one base to peak non stop. The vertical is a respectable 1,600 feet. Next a new black diamond run, Gunther’s Way, was added on the periphery.
Next stop: the administrative offices. The marking director was off for the day, and the decision maker was in conference, so any professional courtesy was not possible. But guess what? “Super seniors” are gratis! Yes, you can’t beat the price, and I am grateful. The area is family owned and it’s obvious they owners appreciate the years that have been given to build and advance the sport.
The lodge was large, nicely appointed, clean, well laid out and organized. There is ample room on the lower level for gearing up and lockers for the day. An private section is set off for season pass holders and a club I’m sure. Rentals are available and easily accessible on this lower level. A good lodge always adds to the ski experience!
The skiing experience was enjoyable. Sure it was pouring, but that precluded any lines. As a matter of fact, there were only a few others on the slopes. I skied all the diamonds. They were impressive. TheIt was obvious they groomers knew their business. The base was solid and several feet deep. The snow was super-saturated spring corn, which makes it slushy and fast – conditions I actually like. It was a fine experience. I want to come back under better conditions!.
As much as I tolerated and braved the conditions I didn’t linger on til the close of the day. Yes, there is night skiing as might be fully expected when a short season is always a threat. I soon made my way to the third story reastaurant and watering hole.
The bar keep, Tony is a skier and boarder himself. But more interestingly, he works with his future father-in-law off-season erecting log homes. In case you didn’t know log and timber construction is another of my passions. I drank in the exchange of information and stoies, I fine conclusion to a descent day of skiing-down south!
But I had to pry myself off the stool ’cause I had to head north to Virginia. Wintergreen awaited.
(This post is part of the string starting with “[Gone South] that includes visits to Wintergreen, VA and Shoeshoe, WV.)
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