Looking for some insight into what Belleayre skiing is like? Here are my best tips on what to expect and more when you visit this super beginner-friendly resort!
So last winter, I don’t know what got into us, but my friend, Sher and I decided we wanted to get into skiing more! I’ve been trying hard to combat my normal desire to hibernate during the months of December to February, and I used to ski as a kid, so this seemed like the perfect activity.
Originally, we had this grand plan or renting a place in Colorado for the month of February or March and skiing there. However, we quickly realized we should probably get some more practice and experience before shelling out for one of the meccas for winter sports!
After some digging, we decided Belleayre Mountain up in the Catskills would be the perfect place to get our feet wet. It’s a pretty easy drive and according to everyone we talked to, it was preferable to other nearby resorts.
If you’re planning on some Bellayre skiing yourself, read below for the COMPLETE guide on what to expect and how to plan for your own trip!
Belleayre Skiing Guide
Buy Your Lift Tickets Online
In order to go skiing at Belleyare, you should purchase tickets online ahead of time, especially if you go for the weekend. We booked a 3-day pass as it’s much cheaper than buying one day at a time.
Belleayre is one of the ski resorts that actually has short opening hours. It’s only open from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, so if you prefer sunrise skiing or night skiing, you may have to look elsewhere.
What to Bring & What You Can Rent
Anything you want to rent, you’ll want to do ahead online as well. Even if you don’t and go in person, they’ll have you do it from your phone, so just save yourself the trouble!
They allow you to do 1-3 day ski rental packages, but know that if you choose multiple days you have to take the equipment with you; you can’t return it at the end of the day.
Other options include:
|Package||One Day||Add a Day|
|Ski & Boots Only||$53||$48|
|Ski Boots Only||$42||$38|
Parking Options & Best Place to Park
If you look at the map below, there are eight parking lots, named A-H. A-C are down below by the Discovery Lodge and D – I are midway up the mountain by the Overlook Lodge. All the parking lots require a bit of walking which is fine on your way in but a little tortuous when leaving with all your stuff!
A-C / Discovery Lodge
So the way the flow of traffic works here is that you park and climb up some stairs to get to the bottom entrance to the Discovery Lodge. This is where you’ll check-in and get your ski pass and then pick up anything you’ve rented. You’ll then exit the opposite side which will pop you out to the bunny hill to your left and the Gondola and Lightning Quad to the right.
Keep in mind, the rental area has shelves for shoes but it’s not protected, so don’t keep anything super valuable there.
I recommend using these lots on the days you pick up and drop off your rental gear for good. Use Parking Lot B to be as close as possible.
D-I / Overlook Lodge
One the days you don’t rent, park up by the Overlook Lodge instead! It’ll be slightly less crowded, and you don’t have to worry about going through any buildings to get to the slopes. Parking Lot I is the best, but it’s paid, and I’m honestly still not sure who you pay or how since the parking stand was closed. The next best bet is Parking Lot H. I am warning you, though, the walk back is torturously long in your ski boots.
Belleayre Ski Map
The Lifts Explained
As you can see from the map above there are a total of eight lifts. The only ones you’ll really use are the little Katskill Katerpillar for the bunny hill and then Lightning Quad, Catskill Thunder Gondola, and the Belleayre Express.
Lightning Quad – Moves very slowly (though perfect for me so I could rest). We used this one the most as it leads to the easiest trails- Dakota, Mohican, Huron, and Iroquois. It’s an open air one with two seats.
Catskill Thunder Gondola – Moves faster than you think. This is the enclosed seating, so you’ll likely share with someone else. It also has a longer line, and you’ll need to put your skis and poles on the outside. At least last year, you needed a mask to ride. We really only used the gondola for Deer Run. Otherwise it leads to all the black and double black diamonds!
Belleayre Express – Also an open air lift, but you can really only access after skiing down from Ashokan, The Canyon, or the Easy In. Pro tip: Don’t slow down too much so you can ski right up to the line. If you go too slow coming off the Easy In, you’ll have to shuffle walk to the line.
Which Trails to Go On for Beginners
Level 1: Total Beginners
Obviously start at the Bunny Hill if you’re a beginner! Even the easiest Belleayre skiing trails is nerve-wracking on your first go. I needed a few times going down just to get some practice in.
Mohican & Dakota
Once you’re ready, head to the Lightning Quad to go down either Dakota or Mohican. These are the easiest green trails and might even feel a little flat once you’re more comfortable. I would say Mohican is my favorite for warming up or doing any practice.
Level 2: Beginner but More Comfortable
Huron & Iroquois
Both Huron and Iroquois are still green trails but are a tiny bit steeper than Mohican and Dakota. I would say they’re still pretty easy but only go down when you have a bit more experience and feel warmed up.
Level 3: Part of Green Trails
Eagle Falls & Oneida
Both Eagle Falls and Oneida are part of green trails and very short, so they’re good if you want to try something slightly harder but aren’t quite ready for blue. Eagle Falls splits of from Huron and is pretty steep for a green trail. I was too chicken to try it but Sher went every time!
Oneida is a blue option that you can take after getting off the Lightning Quad and goes into the Mohican. I think we went down once but really didn’t see how it was more difficult!
Level 4: Easy Blue Trails
As we heard a teenage girl say, instantly humbling us, “The blues are so easy, they’re basically greens.” I don’t know that’s true for all blue trails, but we did venture out to Deer Run and Roaring Brook once we were feeling braver.
Roaring Brook is actually incredibly easy and when I looked up the grade decrease, it was only -11.6%, which is flatter than Huron (-12.6%)! It’s a bit of a pain to go on at first because there’s no real push off the Belleayre Express and it’s pretty far, so you have to shuffle walk quite a bit before you get going.
My favorite for a challenge is Deer Run. Definitely only do after you feel totally comfortable on the greens because it’s a bit steeper and has some slightly more narrow parts that might be scary to a total beginner. I also got tired because it’s pretty long.
Pro Tip: If you, like me, are inclined to slow down a bit on steeper bits, don’t. Pick up speed because there’s usually quite a flat area right after that if you don’t have enough momentum, you’ll have to shuffle walk a bit. Also I found the steepest bit to actually be towards the bottom after the bridge. It’s super, super short but almost like a slide!
A Long Route to Challenge Yourself
Okay, so picture this. You’re on Day 3 and have gotten over the mental fear of Deer Run and Roaring Brook being blues. Since you’ve been skiing for two days, you actually feel pretty good on your warm-up run. You’re not stiff or overly sore like on Day 2, and you’re up for a little skiing challenge. This is my recommended route to you:
- Take the Lightning Quad up and go left
- Ski down Dakota and turn right into the Easy In
- Take this to Belleayre Express
- Ride the express up to Roaring Brook
- Go down Roaring Brook
- Pass by Overlook Lodge and go down Chinook
- Turn onto Dakota from Chinnook
- Take Dakota down where it merges with Mohican
- Ride Mohican to the Lightning Quad or swerve over to Discover Lodge if you need a breather
Where to Stay Near Belleayre
Belleayre doesn’t have its own lodging, so you’ll want to find a place nearby. We opted to stay at Margaretville Mountain Inn, which is about a 15-minute drive away. It’s a really cute inn with freshly made breakfast and an old-timey feel. The best part is the cute floof of a cat! He’s so cheeky and friendly.
I will say, their driveway and parking lot can get quite icy if there’s a storm the night before, so be careful when using. My car got temporarily stuck when we were leaving. Thankfully we were able to scrape it out.
One downside I’d say to Margaretville Mountain Inn is that it’s a bit far from everything. The town of Margaretville is super small and the only restaurant we tried eating at seemed to always be closed (more on that below).
Some other nice places, we looked at:
|Breezy Hill Inn $$||Fleischmanns||View Here|
|Shadowcrest $$||Fleischmanns||View Here|
|Pine Hill Arms Hotel $$||Shandaken||View Here|
|River Run BnB $$||Fleischmanns||View Here|
TIP: I also recommend looking at Priceline for their express deals depending on when you go. You can always cross reference the picture they show for the “mystery hotel” and with Booking or Hotels.com to see if it’s the hotel you want!
Where to Eat Near Belleayre (and Where Not to)
We obviously ate out during in between our Belleayre skiing, but we definitely struggled finding places for dinner! There was actually a couple who visits frequently, and they told us they started getting takeout from home ahead of time and bringing it to heat up in the microwave because of how fickle the opening hours of all the restaurants nearby are.
My biggest tip is to call ahead before you go anywhere. SO many restaurants felt like they had made up hours and were never open when we tried to go.
On your way into the Catskills, you’ve got to stop into Phoenicia Diner! Ever since it moved here in the eighties, it’s been a Catskills institution with tons of delicious food and drinks with ingredients sourced from local farms.
At the Discovery Lodge
If you want to stop for lunch, then you’ll want to go to Discovery Lodge for food. It’s definitely overpriced for what you get, but I’m pretty sure most ski lodges are like that.
Honestly, after the first day, we just didn’t bother stopping for lunch. We both packed little snacks in our pockets for when we got hungry and ate them on the lift when we needed energy. It wasn’t worth it to undo all our ski gear. Plus, once we sat down we had zero motivation to go back out.
The Arms at Pine Hill
The Arms at Pine Hill is a super cozy spot. It’s actually attached to a good accommodation option, and our waiter was really friendly. Plus it was one of the few places we called that was still open later in the evening!
If you’re craving something different, La Cabaña is a nice little Mexican spot in Fleischmanns. I remember their tortilla soup really hitting the spot!
Oakley’s Grille was probably our favorite of the trip for food besides Phoenicia Diner! We came here for our last dinner for some seriously delicious pizza, wings, and mozzarella sticks. By the time we went, we had 3 days worth of Belleayre skiing and were ready to sit by the fire and feast!
Don’t Go: Trattoria Locale
One place I simply do not recommend at ALL is Trattoria Locale. They were NEVER open and their opening hours on their website and Google are lies. We tried to go every night and had no luck. If you call, there’s an automated voice message. I left my name and number for a call back and to this day have not gotten a call in return. Even if you go in person when they say they’re open, they might turn you away even if the chef says they’re ready to serve!
I’m honestly not convinced this is a real restaurant.
Other Belleayre Skiing Tips
Getting to Bellayre
For those flying in, the closest airport is in Albany. You can rent a car and it’l take around 90 minutes to get Belleayre. Otherwise, NYC is only 2 1/2 hours away by car.
The weather is warmer than you think
Belleayre was surprisingly warm for January! Don’t get me wrong, temperatures still got very low, but I was prepared to be freezing and I was totally fine, especially during the day.
I layered up with a Heattech top, a light sweatshirt or shirt, and my ski jacket and then on the bottom had some sort of leggings and my ski pants and over the ankle wool socks.
If you have wider calves, you may want to rent boots ahead of time
My 18-inch calves are about the absolute widest the rental boots at Belleayre go and they were aching. At certain points I just had them completely unbuckled and never felt like my boot was too loose. If you have wide calves, I’d try renting elsewhere where you can take time to try them on.
OR if you’re planning on skiing a lot, investing in your own pair. Next winter I plan on going to a ski shop to buy my own. I know ski boots give you some amount of discomfort, but I don’t think mine should’ve been quite that painful!
Don’t forget your mask and or buff!
Last year, Belleayre required masks or buffs in all enclosed spaces, so be sure to have something to cover your mouth. I’m not sure how the rules will be this year, but it’s good to have for the enclosed spaces regardless.
The slopes are MUCH emptier during the week than on the weekends
If you can swing it, go skiing during the weekday. I’ve heard the weekends and holiday weekends are nightmarishly packed. In fact, on the Monday I rented my gear, I saw a family go up to this beleaguered rental guy and all start talking at once. He immediately was like, “Please one at time. It was a long weekend.”
FAQ for Belleayre Skiing
Belleayre is great for beginners – this is from a beginner! They have a ton of green options and even many of their blue options are gentler.
There is not. Their opening hours are actually on the shorter side
Its peak is 3,429 feet.
It’s currently owned by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).
And there’s your complete Belleayre skiing guide. As you can see, it’s a great resort for beginners and you can’t beat the location. Let me know if you have any questions or tips to add below!
For more New York travel, read these posts next:
- Where to Stay in New York City: A Neighborhood Guide
- 19 Magical Things to Do in NYC at Christmas
- Finger Lakes Travel
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