Skiing Berkshire East feels like going back in time. Although the infrastructure is a little dated, the outstanding customer service gives you the impression that skiing Berkshire East is what New England skiing used to be like. It may not be as glamorous as the ski areas to its north but it provides an experience that will keep me coming back.
Like many modern ski areas, Berkshire East, located in Charlemont MA, has 45 trails and 1000 feet of vertical which is great for a full day of skiing. Their trail variety matches most competing ski areas. 36% of trails are greens, 61% are blues and 25% are black or double black diamonds, which means there is something for everyone. My personal favorite trail is Big Chief; a blue trail that winds through a picturesque forest from the summit to the main quad lift. The lifts are a bit slow but the lack of lift lines, even on weekends, more than makes up for it.
Unlike most ski areas you can buy a full day weekend lift ticket for $55. Perhaps this is possible because Berkshire East does not have the condos, fancy restaurants or even high speed quads which are common in most nearby Vermont resorts. Also the lodge is not overly modern with a 1970s feel to it. I think that this adds up to create a perfect example of what New England Skiing used to be.
Berkshire East sets itself apart with its employees’ outstanding customer service. I encountered several ski patrol and instructor staff while on the lifts between runs. Every one of them pleasantly greeted me and carried on a conversation that made the slow lift ride seem a lot shorter. A few of them even continued the conversation by joining me on a few runs. This kind of service is history at almost every other ski area I have been to.
I should also note that Berkshire East has a reputation for ice. I skied on completely machine made snow and didn’t encounter any more ice than I would expect from other areas. I am sure conditions will only improve as they get some real snow throughout the season. Therefore I think this negative reputation should be history.
Berkshire East’s lodge and trails might give off an old New England vibe but the mountain is looking towards a future of reduced environmental impact. They recently installed a wind turbine that will provide 100% of the mountain’s power needs. Therefore skiing all day at Berkshire East is like doing your environmental good deed for the day.
If you want the fastest chairs, ski in condos or high end restaurants then point your car towards Vermont. However, if you want to experience classical New England skiing on great trails, with great people then Berkshire East should be your destination. Please note that Berkshire East has given me no incentive to write this review.