Hometown Mountain Shoutout: Magic Mountain, VT, and Its Infamous Red Chair

Mark Kuligoski |
Red Chair, Credit: Mark Kuligoski

Fixed grip, double, red chairs, most people shudder at the sounds of a slow, old school double lift but growing up outside of the golden triangle (Stratton, Bromley, and Magic) in southern Vermont, Magic Mountain, VT, is a soulful haven. The late 1990s and early 2000s seemed to be the precipice of snowboarding culture in Vermont. This is where my passion all got started. My parents moved to Vermont and set up a ski rental shop, so as soon as I could walk, I was on skis. To their dismay, I later traded in pizza- and french-fry-skis for the sweet, surfy ride of a snowboard. This mountain is perfect for learning skiing and riding and is a great place to progress. 

Magic Mountain Trail Map, Credit: Magic Mountain Website

The magical terrain of the mountain shouldn’t be overlooked: from the top of the Red Chair, you can access 1,500 vertical feet and 205 acres of skiable area. Although 26% of this is expert riding with great trees, fun drops, and steep groomers, Magic Mountain also has five lifts to make all areas enjoyable for all levels of skiers and riders. I recommend the challenging terrain on Red Line under the Red Chair to show off your skills and get the crowds going.

Magic Mountain is home to the third steepest trail on the east coast, called Black Magic, where you can push your limits. Magic has an average snowfall of 145 inches, and its southern location makes it prone to getting hit by coastal storms that could dump upwards of 30″ of snow in one storm. After a long day on the mountain, head inside and meet the friendly frothing crew at the Black Line Tavern (BLT) for some good grub and a slew of craft beers. 

Black Line Tavern Deck, Credit: Mark Kuligoski

The history of Magic has ups and downs, like everything great in life. Established in 1960 by Hans Thorner, a ski instructor from Switzerland, who had a vision for what he called ‘A Little Corner of Switzerland,’ the ski area started out small and slowly grew into the mountain resort it is today. Thorner sold the Magic Mountain Resort in the 1980s, and due to a weak snowmaking system and some low snowfall winters, the mountain shut down after the 1990/91 season and did not open back up until the 1996/97 season.

Since then, the resort has changed ownership multiple times, but over the last six years, the current manager, Geoff Hatheway, has invested in the infrastructure.  Hatheway successfully increased snow production to cover 50% of trails, invested in a larger deck outside the BLT, installed a quad chairlift, and has been able to extend hours by installing lights over the rope-towed accessible terrain park. This mountain has a little bit of everything for everyone. 

I will always call Magic my home mountain, even though I have moved a few hours north and visit twice a year on the world-famous Indy Pass. The location and being an Indy Pass member make this mountain so accessible and accepting for so many people. Even if it’s your first time visiting, it’s reminiscent of the past that we all yearn to return to.

Magic Mountain Base Lodge back in the 1960s, Credit: Magic Mountain Facebook

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