Hometown Mountain Shoutout: Discovering the Hidden Charm of Willard Ski Area, NY

Christopher Leach | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Colonel run at Willard
Drum roll: the full vertical of Willard! Credit: Chris Leach

Ask any young skier who grew up near Saratoga Springs, NY about Willard, and you’ll likely get the same resounding response: “Willard sucks.” On paper, there doesn’t seem to be much to love about it – 500 vertical feet, two chairlifts, a handful of surface lifts, 16 trails, and a tubing park.

But for many, this small ski area perched above the Hudson River is the heart and soul of skiing. It’s a place where families bring their kids to learn, where racers bash gates in the evening hours, and where parents and adults can get their quick fix of turns on the steeper faces of the mountain. I would often head to Willard after the workday and spend an hour or two, seeing how many laps I could complete in that time, even playing hooky occasionally to get in a few turns during working hours.

Willard became my go-to local spot while I lived in Saratoga Springs, NY from 2009 to 2018. Although it was unimpressive during my first visit, I quickly began to appreciate what this hill had to offer. Despite its short vertical drop, the hill has a decent pitch, a variety of terrain, and lovely views. One of the highlights is skiing as the sun sets beyond the Hudson River to the west, while twilight blankets the rolling hills and farmland that lead up to Vermont in the east. On the clearest of days, one can see Gore Mountain and the mountains surrounding Lake George.

While Willard may not be a magnet for snowfall, if you time it right, it can transform into your own private powder mountain during a mid-week dump. However, the true joy of Willard can be found in the everyday moments: from the twin double chairs, you can watch after-school race programs, while younger kids straight line the entirety of the mountain in the adjacent lane as their parents rip bumps to the side. My personal favorite is turning with the twists and undulations of a run called White River Run.

Though I have moved away from upstate New York, my fondness for Willard remains. It epitomizes the essence of a community ski area, acting as a nurturing ground for a new generation of aspiring racers and passionate skiers. Even with many big mountains around the globe under my belt, Willard will always hold a special place in my heart, a testament to the enduring spirit of this mountain.

Willard Stats:

Elevation Top: 1415 ft.  Base: 910 ft.
Vertical Drop: 505 ft.   Total Terrain: 85 Acres
Longest Run: 0.94 mi.     Total Trails: 13

A quick photo tour:

Willard from the top
Twilight over the Green Mountains. Credit: Chris Leach
Willard Colonel night
Night bumps. Credit: Chris Leach


Weekday at Willard
Private powder. Credit: Chris Leach


Quiet night skiing at Willard
Evening leftovers. Credit: Chris Leach

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