Steepest Ski Trail in Connecticut

Steepest Ski Trail in Connecticut - Satan's Stairway, Ski Sundown

Ski Sundown is a ski area located in New Hartford, Connecticut, approximately 45 minutes north west of Hartford, CT.   Ski Sundown originally opened for the 1963-1964, under the name Satan’s Ridge Ski Area, with both night skiing and snowmaking.  Management continued to invest in the area’s infrastructure, however by 1967-1968 the area closed and was put up for auction. The ski area was purchased by Channing Murdock, a Middlebury grad who honed his skills in ski area management while working for the creative genius Walt Schoenknecht at Mount Snow, VT and Mohawk Mountain, CT.  Murdock was able to reopen the ski area in 1969, under the new name Ski Sundown.  

As you would expect for a Connecticut ski area, it is small with 16 trails and 625 vertical feet. 

Satan’s Stairway is the moguled trail in the center of the photo:  Courtesy of Ski Sundown

Satan’s Stairway is the moguled trail in the center of the photo:

Courtesy of Ski Sundown

Satan’s Stairway

In 2014, Ski Sundown cut a new trail, their first since 1981, trail was named Satan’s Stairway, which may be the greatest name ever for a double black diamond trail.  The name pays homage to the original name of the ski area, Satan’s Ridge. Sundown created the trail with the sole purpose of dedicating it as a mogul run. A move that is applauded, although a bit confusing since mogul skiing is somewhat of a bygone era from the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  To the point where moguls seem to be despised by the general public, which has led to resorts putting pictures of groomed corduroy on billboards and in skiing magazines, and marketing overgrooming as something desirable by everyone who skis. Ski Sundown markets the trail as a “classic New England cut” which is slang for narrow, the trail has an average width of 64 feet.  For comparison, the width is similar to Lookout Below (Whiteface), Extrovert (Blue Knob) and Le Bete (Mont Ste. Anne). Since the trail is so narrow, assuming the trail is skied by talented mogul skiers, the width would allow for only a handful of lines. The trail is appropriately named as a stairway because Satan’s Stairway has a series of three pitches that are flat, intermediate and steep.   The trail has an average steepness of only 18.68 degrees, however is does have a sustained pitch over 300 feet of 21.04 degrees. This isn’t steep compared to the big boys of the East Coast, but is similar to Boiling Kettle (Mont Tremblant) and Witch (Magic Mountain). The trail officially opened on January 10, 2015, made it the steepest trail in Connecticut and the only double black diamond in the state.