In 1929, a Newburgh man, Maltby Shipp, and his son gained local fame when they were the first to hike up and ski down Belleayre Mountain in New Yorks Catskill Mountains.
In the following decade, more skiers came to Belleayre to hike and ski the 2,000 vertical feet of the mountains wooded trails.
Since the beginning of the American skiing experience, skiers gazed at the steep, rugged inclines of Belleayre Mountain and dreamed of refining them. In the 1940s skiing enthusiasts pressured politicians to develop Belleayre as a safe and fun mountain for families and extreme skiers alike. Construction began in 1949 and Belleayre Mountain began its premier winter season with five trails, an electrically powered rope tow, New Yorks first chairlift, a summit lodge, a temporary base lodge with a cafeteria and dirt floors and parking to accommodate 300 people. This became the center for winter sports in the Catskills and an economic catalyst for surrounding communities.
Belleayre is known for being a place to learn to ski. This is due to their segregated beginner area, the natural terrain, and their skilled ski instructors. The ski area is family orientated, but yet has something for everyone, from its beginner area, terrain parks, steeps, glades, bumps, and intermediate terrain.
The 55 trails at Belleayre consist of 22% Beginner, 58% Intermediate and 20% Expert, five Glades, one Terrain Park and two Progression Parks. The longest run is 12,024 feet. Snowmaking at Bellearye has improved recently to an impressive 96%. Vertical Drop is 1,404 feet from a summit elevation of 3,325 feet. Skiable terrain amounts to 171 acres. Four Lodges are open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily on the mountain, including a summit lodge, and Belleayres main lodge, Overlook Lodge, situated mid-mountain at an elevation of 2,541 feet.
When we went to Bellearye this past weekend, the Overlook Lodge was our first stop. There we left are vehicle, geared up, and hit the slopes to enjoy a great family day. The oldest in our group was 46 and the youngest six. We found terrain and fun for everyone. From wide open trails with the sun shining on our faces, to interesting narrow curving trails, catwalks, glades, and slopes with moguls, some half groomed for cruising; we hit it all. When we went in for lunch we hurried to get back out and experience more of the mountain, before that unwanted 4 oclock closing hour.
One unique option worth mentioning is that Bellearye has its own 9.2 km of Cross-Country Trails. Cross-Country trails are free to use, are only open with natural snow and are not patrolled or groomed, located just below the base of the Bellearye ski area.
Belleayre is operated by, ORDA, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, who also operates Gore and Whiteface Mountain. Bellearye provides SKI3 products, season passes and frequent skier cards, which allow skiers and riders to ski all three ski areas.
Belleayre is located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, only 2.5 hours away from The George Washington Bridge and 1.5 hours from Albany.