Monday, November 18, 2013

Enjoy the Ski Season: Take the train

                                                      Courtesy: MBTA
Ski season is slowly creeping up on us. Sugarloaf in Maine and Stowe in Vermont are a few mountains that are already open but most resorts in the New England states are expecting to open by the end of the month.

Being in a city, it's sometimes hard to find easy access to ski resorts. Well, city skiers fret not because here is my list of the easiest ways to get to some of the best mountains in New England by way of good 'ole public transportation.


In 2007 the MBTA and MBCR partnered up with Wachusett Mountain  to create the "Take the Rails to the Trails" Ski Train program and this year it is once again returning. Starting on November, 30, the MBTA will begin running their ski train every Saturday and Sunday. The train will leave North Station at 8:35 a.m. and arrive at the Fitchburg Commuter Rail station at 10:08 a.m. The train departs from Fitchburg back to Boston at 5:35 p.m. Wachusett Mountain provides a free shuttle from the Fitchburg station to the mountain. Each train is also equipped with a specially designed "Ski Coach" which makes it easier for passengers to stow their belongings. The coach has the capacity to hold 42 passengers, 34 sets of skis, and 12 snowboards. For those of you who are bike fanatics this is the same coach that the MBTA converted into a bike coach. Round trip tickets to Wachusett will cost you $20.

Amtrak: The Vermonter

Vermont is known for having one of the longest ski seasons in the country. Amtrak's Vermonter Service runs on 611 miles of rail and travels from Washington D.C. through Springfield and Amherst, MA. to St. Albans VT. The Vermonter stops in Waterbury, close to Stowe Mt., Sugarbush, and Bolton Valley. The St. Albans stop is also very close to Jay Peak Resort. Some ski areas and inns provide shuttle service from the stations, but skiers should call ahead for prices and reservations. Stowe Taxi Service charges $15 for one person or $20 for two or three people to transport skiers from the Waterbury/Stowe stop to the Stowe ski area. Shuttle service to Mount Snow from the Brattleboro stop is $26.50. The drive takes about 35 minutes. Overall, the Vermonter is not only one of Amtrak's most scenic routes it's also one of the easiest ways to get to Vermont's greatest ski resorts from Massachusetts.  The train also has a specialty baggage car that has ski and snowboard racks.

Amtrak: The Downeaster

The Downeaster is owned by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and operated by Amtrak. The train was put into service back in 2001 and currently runs five round-trip trains daily from Boston's North Station to Portland, Maine and three daily round trips between Portland and Brunswick, Maine. Over the past 12 years the Downeaster has become Amtrak's fastest growing service, moving over 500,000 passengers this year. 

Unfortunately, this train doesn't drop you off very close to any ski resorts in Maine. If you're a die-hard however, you can take a bus from the Portland Transportation Center (Concord Coach) to Augusta Maine and head to a resort from there. Resorts close to The Augusta Transportation Center include the Camden Snow BowlEaton Mountain, and The Lost Valley Ski Area.

I hope some of will try and take the "rails to the trails" this winter. Not only is it convenient for those of us who live in the city but it is also better than taking out another loan to buy gas for your car. 

Have a great ski season!


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