For most people getting to Jay Peak is often a long and monotonous journey, but I promise you it never disappoints. As you approach the mountain you get the feeling that you are smack in the middle of nowhere. That makes sense because that’s exactly where you are. The mountain is only a few miles from Canada so once you get off the interstates up here it’s just you and the dairy cows.
Because of its proximity to Canada you might find that the people next to you in line are speaking French. Though this only happens in the rare instance that there actually is a line. Normally the only lift line here is for the 60 passenger aerial tram, which is also the only lift that takes you to the peak. When you arrive early in the morning it makes good sense to take the tram a few times to start the day. Another thing you should prepare for when tripping to Jay are the temps. From late December into March this place is COLD! And when the wind kicks up like it often does, it’s pretty rough on the chairs.
Jay Peak is like no other mountain in the east. They get an average of 351 inches of snow annually. For those of you keeping score, that is almost 100 inches more snow annually than their nearest Vermont competitor, Stowe. You don’t normally see this much snow on the east coast. Snowfall totals like this are usually reserved for the Rockies or Tetons. The locals call this the “Jay cloud effect”. It seems that because Jay Peak is a 4,000 ft. peak in the middle of a wide plain, the wind whips across the plain and when it rises up over the mountain, it dumps on Jay. The cool thing about the Jay cloud effect is that when it’s sunny at Stowe, it can be dumping at Jay. If you check out RSN.com, the first page has a section that lists snowfall totals from the previous day. It is not uncommon to see Jay Peak with 12, 14 or even 18 inches while Stowe and Smuggs aren’t even listed with any snow. This, my friends, is the Jay cloud effect.
When going to the top in the morning you might check out Ullr’s Dream. This blue cruiser winds its way down through the northern edge of the mountain. It’s a nice trail to warm up on. Half way down Ullr’s dream you’ll want to drop into Beaver Pond Glade. Even a full week after the last snowfall we found ourselves carving freshies back here. Beaver Pond Glade feeds back into Ullr’s Dream where you can hook up with Kokomo. Kokomo is another glade with a little less pitch where you can rest a little bit. After a few runs in Beaver Pond we like to go over to the south side for a few turns.
These lifts are usually deserted. We usually ride the Jet Triple chair a few times and bang out a few high-speed cruisers to meet our vertical quota. Another cool glade over by the Triple is Timbuktu. This is a real quad burner and another trail where you will find plenty of snow.
I like to try and check out all of the glades by the end of the day to find out where nobody is riding. Not that you will ever find crowds at Jay. There is nothing quite like the absence of sound when you are riding through the trees in untracked powder. Ahhh, the sound of silence. For those of you who have shied away from gladed trails in the past, Jay has just the trail for you. It’s called Moon Walk Woods. It’s kind of flat and the trees are well spaced for the beginner. Anybody can have fun in here, even the kids. It’s very user friendly.
Of course no trip would be complete without a visit to the bar for a few pops. I strongly recommend you stop into the Jay Peak base lodge bar. I’m not even sure if it has a name but you will find plenty of imports as well as a few local micro brews on tap. Be sure to get yourself a Long Trail Tram Ale. It’s a smooth ale crafted just for Jay Peak. The only drawback to this bar is the cuisine. When you’re at the bar they don’t have much of a menu so your options are limited to BBQ or regular. Potato chips that is. That’s OK though; you’re not there to eat. You’re there to have a couple of beers and recap the days’ turns and spills. If you need to pick up a snack or a drink for the road, make sure you go to the mini mart out by the parking lot. Get there early though because I’m pretty sure they close at 5:00.
At the end of the day, the reason you travel the extra mileage to Jay Peak are the glades. Because of the glades, the Jay cloud effect and the absence of crowds, I guarantee you will always leave this place smiling. One other thing. On the way into the mountain from the west on rte 242 you might notice the cars parked on the right side of the road in the car parks. Many people leave a car here and ride down the backside of the mountain at the end of the day.