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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Maineiac Outdoors with Carey Kish
Posted: February 18, 2014

Classic New England skiing defines the Burke Mountain experience

The monadnock of Burke Mountain rises to 3,267 feet in elevation, dominating the landscape of hills and fields in what’s affectionately known as the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. For years I’ve been making a mostly annual winter pilgrimage to the mountain to ski my beloved Burke Mountain Resort.

Not much has changed over the years at Burke. Ask just about anyone and they’ll tell you they like it that way. In fact, the only big changes I can note are the two new detachable quads, one on the lower mountain, the second on the upper. Oh, and the 121-foot wind tower that produces 15% of the mountain’s electricity. Other than that, well, Burke has been pretty much Burke, a no-frills skier’s mountain.

Changes are afoot (aski??) at Burke, however, as the mountain is under new ownership (I haven’t quite gotten used to the new name, Q Burke Mountain Resort), but I’m trusting the changes will be good ones.

Skier on Willoughby with Willoughby Notch in the distance, Burke Mountain, Vermont. Photo © Carey Kish.

Burke gives you classic New England skiing, a goodly dose of old time narrow and winding trails through the trees, with runs that take you 20 minutes or more if you let them. I’ve loved it here from the get-go for just this reason. Then there are the open cruisers and they’re great too for the incredible view they give you of the country to the north, mainly the jaw-dropping Willoughby Notch.

No ski day at Burke is ever complete without a healthy stint in the Tamarack Pub & Grill in the Sherburne Lodge at the base. Always lively, always fun, always plenty of cold beer on tap. Yeah!

Loving the narrow trails on the upper part of Burke Mountain. Photo © Carey Kish.

Yep, Burke. Total skiable terrain is 270 acres with 56 trails and more than 100 acres of glades. There are 6 lifts, but you’ll only really care about two: The Sherburne Express that gets you up the beginner area, and the Mid Burke Express that puts you on the summit of the mountain, from which you can enjoy a whopping 2,011 feet of vertical. Yes!

The lower mountain is for green skiers, a safe place for kids and novices, with wonderful trails like Binney Lane, Bunker Hill and the tricked-out Dashney Mile (easy stuff, but fun).

Upstairs on Burke, get ready for those lovely narrow and wooded trails, like The Shoot, Bear Den Ledges, Deer Run and Wilderness. Tuck into cruising speed on Willoughby (my favorite) and Big Dipper. Tackle the steeps on the renowned Doug’s Drop. Duck into the woods on Sasquatch or Caveman and enjoy the pinball ride.

All very, very good stuff.

Fun on Binney Lane, an easy trail on lower Burke Mountain. Photo © Carey Kish.

For Mainers who love to ski, you’ve got to get here. And you can without a lot of hassle. Burke is only 150 miles from Portland, 3 hours and 15 minutes or so if you’re counting. Easy navigating too: US 302 to I-93 to Lyndonville, VT. Then US 5 to VT 114 to East Burke and you’re there.

By the way, Burke and Jay Peak are owned by the same folks, so you can make your trip a two-fer. Nice!

MORE INFO: Q Burke Mountain, 888-287-5388.

It’s après ski time at Tamarack Pub & Grill, Sherburne Base Lodge, Burke Mountain. Photo © Carey Kish.

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