Top 9 Largest Vertical Drops on the East Coast


We all love stats and numbers and the ski industry is no different from any other sport, profession, or business in that aspect. Which ski resort has the highest elevation, which one has the most trails that are rated expert, and which resort has the most off-piste terrain are all questions we ask ourselves when trying to select the next mountain we will visit. There are lots of big ski resorts around the world and those resorts have big numbers regarding skiable terrain, total trails, and verticals. Most skiers think of resorts in the Rockies, Alps, or Andes when thinking of the places that boast big numbers.

The East Coast usually gets left off this list with the main reason being that it just doesn’t have the terrain. Often, peak elevations on the East Coast don’t compare with other regions around the world. This does not mean that the East does not have some great resorts and challenging terrain. Of course, skiing on a mountain with higher verticals is great, but it does not necessarily mean that the terrain is better. The East boasts several top-notch resorts that have been carved out of the icy mountains that provide some very challenging terrain. The verticals may not be as high as some other resorts around the world but it does not mean these resorts are not a lot of fun to hit!

#9 Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire

Mountain Vertical:

  • 2,180′

Mountain Elevation:

  • Summit: 4,080′

Cannon Mountain has the highest ski area summit in New Hampshire and terrain that is spread across two mountains. It has 23 miles of trails and a unique north-northeast exposure.  Cannon has the most vertical of any ski area in New Hampshire, 2,180′, and is the seventh largest in New England. The trail to checkout when at Cannon is DJ’s Tramline which is usually only open after a good snowfall. It was officially built as a service trail and not a ski run and is visible while riding up Cannon’s tram. DJ’s Tramline is known for its narrow steep pitched trail that is scattered with rocks as you traverse down the run.

#8 Sunday River, Maine

Mountain Vertical:

  • 2,340′

Mountain Elevation:

  • White Cap: 2,340′
  • Locke Mountain: 1,460′
  • Barker Mountain: 1,400′
  • Spruce Peak: 1,500′
  • North Peak: 1,000′
  • Aurora Peak: 1,100′
  • Oz: 1,100′
  • Jordan Bowl: 1,490′

Sunday River is one of the largest ski areas in the Northeast and is known for expansive terrain and world-class skiing and riding. The glades at Sunday River cover almost 300 acres of developed tree skiing and provide endless lines down the mountain that any skier could want. White Heat is a double diamond run and if the conditions are right, can produce some great moguls that any freestyle skier would want to hit.

#7 Stowe, Vermont

Mountain Vertical:

  • 2,160′

Mountain Elevation:

  • Mount Mansfield: 4,395′
  • Spruce Peak: 3,337′
  • Base Elevation: 1,559′

The Front Four at Stowe are legendary with Goat, Lift Line, National, and Starr being the runs you want to check out when there. These runs are known to be icy, with sections of the runs that are rock-strewn, and large moguls. These four runs are located on a mountain that has one of the longest vertical descents in the state which will give you more vertical feet skied in a day than most other mountains.

#6 Gore Mountain, New York

Mountain Vertical:

  • Vertical Drop: 2,537′

Mountain Elevation:

  • Gore Mountain Summit: 3,600′
  • Bear Mountain: 3,200′
  • Burnt Ridge Mountain: 2,735′
  • North Creek Ski Bowl: 998′
  • Gore Base Area: 1,500′

The largest ski resort in New York has been rocking for over 90 years and provides terrain for all levels of skiers and riders. A trail you should check out is “The Rumor” which has a 70% pitch and is one of the steepest trails in the East.  The North Creek Ski Bowl has some of the most challenging terrain on the mountain and gives guests a great look at the history of Gore Mountain.

#5 Sugarbush, Vermont

Mountain Vertical:

  • Vertical Drop: 2,600′

Mountain Elevation:

  • Mt. Ellen: 4,083′
  • Lincoln Peak: 3,975′
  • Castlerock Peak: 3,812′
  • North Lynx Peak: 3,300′
  • Gadd Peak: 3,150′
  • Inverness Peak: 2,750′

With two mountains, four terrain parks sporting over one hundred features, six peaks, sixteen lifts, nearly thirty wooded areas, and the 2,000-acre Slide Brook Basin, there’s no question that Sugarbush is one of New England’s largest ski areas. “Rumble” is the trail to check out at Sugarbush for experts and is located at the top of Castlerock Peak. It is steep and narrow and can have a variety of challenges going down the trail like bumps, trees, and stumps.

#4 Smugglers Notch, Vermont

“Smuggs” is one of the best ski resorts in the East and provides challenging terrain for experts while still providing beginner terrain for families with younger children. Three trails make Smugglers Notch different from other ski resorts: Upper Lift Line, Freefall, and Blackhole. Upper Lift Line is a Hollywood line that runs directly under the Madonna I lift. It is a narrow chute that is steep, aggressive, and is easily one of the hardest trails in the East. It consists of rock ledge after rock ledge that never seems to end and never gives you time to adjust before you go over another ledge again. Free fall boasts a pitch of over 50 degrees, is never groomed, and, features rock drops, waterfalls, and steep natural terrain. Blackhole is one of five triple black diamond runs in the Northeast. Although it is a triple black diamond, most skiers agree that the Upper Lift Line is much more difficult than Blackhole.

#3 Sugarloaf, Maine

If you are looking for three more great trails to hit check out Black Diamond, FIS, and White Nitro at Sugarloaf. Black Diamond is a narrow, steep, rocky run with some significant boulder drops and big moguls as well. FIS is the broader run and is known for its consistent pitch and is often icy with some big moguls to play on. White Nitro Extension is a double black diamond that is steep and icy and has a vertical drop of 45 degrees.

#2 Killington, Vermont

Mountain Vertical

  •  3,050′

Mountain Elevation

  • Killington Peak: 4,241′
  • Skye Peak: 3,800′
  • Ramshead Peak: 3,610′
  • Snowdown Peak: 3,592′
  • Bear Mountain Peak: 3,262′
  • Sunrise Mountain Peak: 2,456′
  • Pico Mountain Peak: 3,967′
  • Base Elevation: 1,165′

Vermont’s Killington Resort is the largest ski and snowboard destination in Eastern North America. Killington Resort is a four-season destination sitting on 3,000 acres in Central Vermont’s Green Mountains. It is known as The Beast of the East and boasts 92 miles of diverse snow sports terrain spread across six peaks. Killington has the most expansive lift network and snowmaking system in Eastern North America.

The Bear Mountain area is the home of Outer Limits and Devil’s Fiddle. Outer Limits is your monster mogul run that is steep, big, and in your face. Devil’s Fiddle does have some nice moguls as well but has no snowmaking, is rarely groomed, and can get pretty gnarly. For challenging lines, Killington skiers love hitting the glades and that is where Julio/Juanita, Devil’s Den, and The Throne make chairlift heroes take off their skis & walk home.

#1 Whiteface Mountain, New York

Mountain Vertical

  • 3,430′ – The greatest vertical in the East!

Mountain Elevation

  • Peak Elevation: 4,867′
  • Little Whiteface Elevation: 3,676′
  • Lookout Mountain Elevation: 4,000′
  • Highest Lift Terminus: 4,386′
  • Highest Skiable Terrain: the Slides at 4,650′
  • Base Elevation: 1,220′

Welcome to The Slides! For those of you lucky enough to have the chance to ski The Slides, they are steep, narrow, and on every skier’s bucket list in the East. The Slides are only open when the Ski Patrol team allows and are deemed safe. This means, that when they are open, it is the place to be at Whiteface Mountain. There is no snowmaking on The Slides which leaves Mother Nature to offer her finest. It is possible by hiking from the Summit Quad which is three times higher than the top of the Empire State Building.

Source: Snow Brains