Once known as “Mascara Mountain” for its tendency to draw a jet-setting, zinc oxide–sporting population of skiers more into modeling their latest parka than tackling the slopes, Sugarbush (1840 Sugarbush Access Rd., Warren, 800/537-8427, www.sugarbush.com , $49 adults, $39 seniors and youth 7–18) has come a long way to rightly earn its place as Vermont’s Second Slope, often favorably described as a more welcoming “alternative” to Killington . It’s second to the Beast in the number and difficulty of the slopes it offers, with 111 trails descending from two peaks, Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen. And it may have the most difficult trail in the East: the rock-and-glade ride known as the Rumble.
Sugarbush is also prized for the high amount of natural snow it gets each year, as storms from Lake Champlain unload their cargo after passing over the mountains. Not that it needs it—Sugarbush has one of the most sophisticated snowmaking systems in the East.
As a bonus, Sugarbush and Mad River Glen  have worked out lift packages that include both mountains—so you can experience big-mountain skiing on the ’Bush and still not lose out on the intimacy of the smaller mountain down the valley.
In the shadow of Sugarbush and the surrounding mountains, Ole’s Cross Country Center (Airport Rd., Warren, 802/496-3430, www.olesxc.com ) has 45 kilometers of trails through deep woods and farm country.
In Montpelier , maple syrup producer Burr Morse  also runs a cross-country ski touring center in the winter. Morse Farm Ski Touring Center (1168 County Rd., Montpelier, 802/223-2740 or 800/242-2740, www.morsefarm.com ) has 25 kilometers of trails through light woods and meadows, designed by two-time Olympian skier John Morton. After skiing the trails, you can warm up by the fire with a cup of cider or chill out with a maple syrup snow cone.