Being the first (1933) trail cut on Mt. Mansfield for specifically down mountain skiing, "The Bruce" exemplifies the genius of taking the path of least resistance. Now marked with only copious boundary warnings The Bruce trail meanders down the protected southern flank of Mt. Mansfield, into the area known as Ranch Valley. Cut by Charlie Lord and his crew of CCC men in 1933, a race was held on it in February 1934. The Bruce's modern day popularity as a lift accessed backcountry adventure stands as a testament to the skiing, and trail blazing, sensibilities of Mr. Lord.
The Toll Road
The Toll Road was first opened in 1876 to horses and horse drawn carriages. The first recorded ascent, and subsequent descent, on skis was in 1914 by Nathaniel Goodrich, with an accompaniing friend on snowshoes. The Toll Road above the Lookout Chairlift has a slope of 10*. compared with - Harlow Hill at its steepest is 6*.
Also cut in 1933 the Houston made access to the Ranch Camp more direct from the Toll Road. It has a couple of pitches that are 15*.
The Nose Dive
Cut in 1935 by C.Lord and the CCC the Nose Dive gained instant fame as the replacement site for the Eastern Championship Races in 1936 (won by Bob Bourdon). The maximum pitch of the Nose Dive is 33*, achieved in the 2nd and 3rd corners of the top turns. Little film footage exists of the Nose Dive's original seven turns, but for comparison the Nose Dive By-Pass was cut as an easier way down. It is hard to imagine that any trail at Stowe has more name recognition than the Nose Dive. Even today, the name conjures an immediate mental image. From early morning speed tests done by patrollers in the 1980's it was determined that 2 min - 10 sec was a fast run, top to bottom, with good grooming and no obstacles. The 1st turn of the Dive is 15* - the 2nd is 20* - the 3rd is 24*. The 1st corner of the Dive is 31* - the 2nd is 33* - the 3rd is 33* The Broads past the Glades are 20*. The pitch at Cliff Trail is 25*. The Houghton Flats are 10*. The last pitch is 16*.
The good skiers at Stowe in the late 1950's were asking for trails with more challenge, and that's what they got when - The Starr (called the "International" originally) - was cut in 1959, and along with the Goat, Hayride, and Centerline - represented a new level of difficulty in the still young ski world of American alpine skiing. The top pitch of Starr has sections of its slope that are 37* of incline. The last pitch of Starr is generally 32* and the central ice flow has been know to reach 43* of angle.
The trail known today as the Lord Trail is an amalgamation of new and old routes down Mt. Mansfield. Cut in 1938 it was known first as the "Skimiester". The Lord above the Lookout chairlift is a 19* pitch. The Lord pitch previously known as the "T-Line" is about 31* at it's steepest. The last pitch of the Lord trail above crossover is about 26* at its steepest.
North Slope was origanally cut as a massive wide open slope, at around 1937, at the base of the mountain where the North Slope Terrain Park exsists today, a pitch of 14*. A map from 1948, recently brought to light, shows the "North Slope" extending from today's area all the way over to the Lower Standard trail as one clear-cut, and serviced by a T-bar. Since being involved in installing snow-making on North Slope in 1979 the trail has remained unchanged, except for the snowboarder's yearly interpretation of terrain park - below the Cross-Over trail. The steep corner at the Triple Lift is 25*. The pitch down to the Sun-Spot is 17*. The pitch below the Sun-Spot is 25*
The original Chin Clip was cut in 1934 near the out of bounds area that is presently known as Angel Food. It was a dead-end trail that started at the State Pinic Area on Rte 108, climbing 1200' over 0.8 mile, and was determined top have a maximum slope of 30*. It was descibed as a steep, fast run, suitable as an expert practice trail.
The Perry Merrill was cut in 1937 and was the basis for the Gondola and it's trails when they were installed in 1968. In the history it was cut in as an intermediate trail which demanded absolute control, as "large trees have been left to create a natural slalom". Since being widened in 68' the Perry Merrill has become an icon for local skiers looking to enjoy fast non-stop runs. The top pitch is 33* on the skiers left above the Cliff Trail. A few other spots on the trail approach 20*.
Cut in 1939 the RimRock joined the so called mountain trails with the Perry Merrill Trail, and was no doubt a big adventure for those who trekked over to find a path less beaten.