The Charm of a bygone Era
“Mad River Glen – Ski it when you can’t ski Hickory” proudly proclaims a bumper sticker often seen on cars in the parking lot. The comparison to the legendary Vermont mountain is an apt one for nowhere else in the Northeast does skiing’s original burn so brightly.
Hickory rises 1,200′ from the banks of the Hudson River and stirring views of the river are possible from most of the upper mountain. Gore Mountain, 20 minutes distant, is visible as well. Hickory is approximately 5-10 minutes off I-87, less than an hour north of Albany. It is only open on weekends (conditions permitting) and is home to the best mix of family and expert skiing in New York State. Its long glades and gentle learning terrain are a tremendous draw as its laid back atmosphere and community-run ambiance.
Founded in the 1946 by veterans of the 10th Mountain Division, Hickory was for many years a ski hill mainly visited by corporate ski clubs in the Albany area and Warrensburg locals. It was (and still is) run by a board of passionate locals who are committed to keeping this living piece of ski history alive. Hickory closed for a number of years in the mid 2000’s before roaring back to life.
From the lifts to the natural snow conditions to the steep terrain, Hickory compares favorably with Mad River Glen. At Mad River Glen, it is the single chair that is the iconic lift – at Hickory it is their vintage 1950’s Poma lifts. Riding up is almost as much fun as skiing down. With line speeds approaching that of modern express quads, skiers can get in lots of laps using these fun vintage lifts.
Hickory’s main draw continues to be its terrain. The ski area does not have snowmaking – but the Hickory Alpine Club aims to change that – so Hickory is currently only open when conditions permit. However, the result is a snow surface that is truly fantastic on good days. Hickory grooms its intermediate and beginner slopes with a vintage packing machine that smoothes the surface. On the upper mountain, steep runs like Winfall and The Hare challenge even the most capable skier and are amongst the most challenging runs in New York State.
Lastly, a day at Hickory wouldn’t be complete without spending a little time in the fantastic base lodge. A large circular firepit surrounded by built-in bench seats is the focal point of social activity in the lodge. Tending the wood-burning fire is a key job for those taking a quick rest between laps. From the lifts to the snow conditions, there is simply no place in the ski world quite like Hickory.
A first-time visitor to Hickory summed it well when she remarked, “I can’t believe places like this still exist.“
Excerpted from a review by Ultimate-Ski.com. Full review available at http://www.ultimate-ski.com/ski-resorts/usa/new-york/hickory.aspx