…But Close Enough To Enjoy The Day.


The new Belleayre Gondola whisks skiers to the summit in comfort. This is part of the continuing upgrading of facilities at the mountain. Credit: Belleayre Mtn.

Folks living in and around major urban centers, with the exception of places such as Denver and Salt Lake City, often find it difficult to plan a ski day within an easy drive. And while the population is graying, more seniors are skiing that ever before. So the hunt for ski areas within easy driving distance becomes a chore.

Belleayre Mountain in Highmount, NY, off New York Throughway Exit 19 and about 40 minutes west of Kingston on a straight run along Rt. 28, neatly fills that bill. About an hour from Albany and two hours more or less from the New York City/North Jersey Metro area, the resort makes a day trip a reality for urbanites.

While there’s no danger of Belleayre ever becoming an Olympic ski venue, its trails offer enough of a challenge for expert and novice skiers alike.

The Catskills resort is owned by New York State’s Olympic Regional Development Authority, a public benefit corporation originally formed to manage the facilities at the 1980 Lake Placid games. Not too long ago in a move to cut expenses, New York dispensed with the Belleayre Gold Lifetime card that granted seniors over 70 the opportunity to ski for free. There was also a Silver Sliders Card for those with little color but silver in their hair, that also offered older skiers courtesies. But according to mountain spokesmen that program was discontinued because of a lack of participation.

Holders of the Gold Card often arrived at Belleayre on midweek days and more often than not were practically the only ones on the slope. Looking at the Gold and Silver cards, it’s difficult to understand why they would have been discontinued for lack of participation. The cost to the state of granting such privilege was microcosmic. 

In view of the fact that they did not detract from the mountain’s bottom line, they could have carried on infinitum. But powers beyond the mountain—read that to say “Albany”—decided that those over 70 years of age should pay to ski. The savings hardly filled the budget gap for Gov. Cuomo.

Onondaga trail looks ready for action. Nice blue! Credit: Belleayre Mtn.

There are discounted program that are currently offered. A septuagenarian will pay only $20 for a daily lift ticket. That’s not bad. If you fall into the 65 to 69 age category, your ski tab is $52 mid week and $60 weekend at the ticket window. If you buy online, that mid week price drops to $32. Belleayre also offers a variety of differently priced passes. A Season Ski3 combo pass good for Belleayre, Gore and Whiteface now costs $999 for those from 65 to 69. A Belleayre only pass was listed as $459 for 70 plus. Season passes would have been way cheaper if purchased in August.

All of that being said, Belleayre is one of the more attractive ski destinations in the Lower Northeast. It’s easy to get to and drive time is more than reasonable. The runs offer enough excitement for expert skiers with a variety of Black Diamonds running from the summit to the lodge. 

The blues are a terrific variety that give skiers an opportunity to condition their legs and move on to a more challenging blue before hitting the steep moguls and runs on the black diamond trails. Green trails are often used to loosen up before hitting  blues or blacks and are both easy enough for true novices and interesting enough for older skiers who simply want to put on skis and enjoy a day on the slopes.

Even on holidays and weekends when the caravans of buses head to the mountain from New York City, North Jersey, Albany and every school district in-between, the lift lines move along at a rapid pace giving you the opportunity to spend more time on the mountain and less time getting there.

The mix of skiers and snowboarders, young and not so young gives Belleayre a great panache. Respect for each other is paramount and it’s not uncommon to see a senior skier stopping to help or offer advice and suggestions to a younger skier who seems to be struggling down hill.

The mountain’s ski/snowboard school offers instructors capable of working with any age group to truly imparting the love of skiing.

For a trail map, click here.

For web cam, click here.

Two hours from New York/New Jersey is Belleayre. That’s doable for a mid-week run where you will find lots of room on the slopes. Credit: Belleayre Mtn.

10 Comments

  1. Avatar Barry Brannan says:

    You left out Reno, NV. Within easy driving distance is Mt. Rose, North Star, Alpine Meadows, and Squaw. A little farther away is Heavenly and Kirkwood.

  2. Avatar Hiller Hardie says:

    I am 62 and ski 40+ days a year. I have lamented the fact that as I progressed in age over the last 10 years, the age threshold for which seniors are eligible for discounted (or free) tickets has progressed in lock step. As a result, I am resigned to the fact that free or discounted tix for seniors will forever remain for me the “forbidden fruit”. You can see it but never reap the’ rewards.

    • Agreed. The ski areas are trying to suck every last dollar from those that are older, avid skiers. I complain to their Customer Service folks every chance I get.

  3. don’t forget that the senior over 70 season’s pass is around
    $225 for the ski 3. makes it a great deal for all 3 state run ski areas

  4. I just moved to Belleayre after 40 years at Hunter. As a veteran over 75, my day pass is $13. at Belleayre. The new owners of Hunter have disparaged the seniors who carried the mountain as our kids grew up. They are forgetting us.

  5. Bellayre is in my soul. I’m 65 and grew up skiing Bellayre. My Dad’s nickname was “Bruce Beautiful”…referencing that he was the best skier on the mtn. He’s gone now, but I carry on the torch(not as good as hew was); albeit , first in Taos, now in Beaver Creek as I left for the rockies as a college freshman…I have so many fond memories. Bellayre, Platterkill, the Kass Inn…I get goose bumps thinking of all of it..it’s my personal ski / family history.
    Thanks for rekindling fond memories..

  6. Belleayre has several discount days (only $38) for members of the New York Capital District Ski Council. I skied at Belleaye for the first time two years ago and found it a fun mountain with a variety of terrain that should satisfy just about everyone. New this year is a top to bottom gondola called the Catskill Thunder. On the downside, the gondola services terrain that will be too challenging for novices at the top half of the mountain and too easy for skilled skiers at the bottom half.

  7. Avatar Pat Gottshalk says:

    Big fan of Belleayre for 25 years. Yes, there have been changes but the great terrain has not changed. The skiers at Belleayre are friendly folks. I miss familiar faces but am grateful they are part of my Belleayre memories.

  8. Avatar Jack Martin says:

    Been trying all day to sign up. I fill in the subscriber only content and it just hangs up.

    • Avatar Michael Maginn says:

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