Fall Fun on the Ski Slopes
By Candyce H. Stapen
Itís not just snow that brings out the best in our mountains. In fall the slopes dazzle with gold, rust, and yellow leaves. You can hike, mountain bike and ride the chair lifts for scenic views or simply stroll the cross-country trails through the woods. Then sit by the fire in the lodge or enjoy the views from your accommodations. An added bonus: autumnís prices are lower than rates in ski season. Here are three options in various U.S. locations.
Smugglersí Notch, Vermont, a noted family-oriented ski area, turns autumn into an awesome experience. Take a guided nature hike through the dappled woods or walk on your own past creeks and stands of birch. For a work-out, tackle Mt. Mansfield, trekking to the summit for sweeping views. For those who prefer pedaling and paddling to their own foot power, Smugglersí rents mountain bikes and a local company offers canoes for trips along the Lamoille River.
Smugglerís offers studio to 3-bedroom condominiums. Through October 11, 2010, Smugglerí offers Kidsí Connection, child care and activities for children 6 weeks to 7 years. Reserve ahead.
Virginiaís Blue Ridge
Wintergreen Resort, a Virginia ski resort sprawled on 11,000-acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, offers spectacular slopeside, ridgetop and valley views. Step into the scenery by hiking some of the propertyís 30 miles of nature trails.
The resortís mountaintop Devils Knob Golf Course remains open through fall and Stoney Creek, the resortís course near Lake Monocan, is open year-round, weather-permitting. For tennis lovers, the resort offers 19 outdoor and 3 indoor courts. For those who just want to relax, soak in a hot tub, swim at the indoor pool or get a massage at the spa. Wintergreen Resort has hotel rooms, condominiums and houses for rent.
Colorado Rocky Mountain Retreat
Amid the Rocky Mountainsí pine forests, aspen groves in autumn shine like spun gold. In Winter Park, the YMCA of the Rockiesí Snow Mountain Ranch offers hiking trails, riding stables, an indoor roller rink, swimming pool, climbing wall, and basketball courts--not to mention 5,000 acres of meadows and mountains. Some fall weekends bring guided hikes.
Waterfall, an easy 1 Ĺ mile hike leads, to a waterfall, and several other trails offer the reluctant walker relatively flat terrain and fine rewards of meadows ringed with mountains. In fall youíre also likely to hear the elks bugling in the woods for mates.
This no-frills, comfortable property, operated by the YMCA, is open to people of all faiths. For summerís busy season book as early as January. Fall is less crowded than in summer and accommodations cost less. Contact the YMCA of the Rockies.