Canton Ski Club/Sweetheart Hill, CT-3/10/2013

Driving back to Boston from my friends wedding in NYC, I couldnt resist the urge to seek out some skiing as the weather was absolutely ideal. Temps were in the upper 50s/low 60s and not a cloud in the sky. The only real skiing in between the two cities was in CT and even though I heard they were pretty small figured would give them a try. I stopped at Woodbury Ski Area for a couple turns on the way down to the wedding since again was a prefect day, which while may have had the smallest vert of any ski area I have skied packed a lot of character in both the small mtn itself and its ski trails. woodbury-not huge vert-tubing hill on other side of roadI stopped first at Mt Southington. It was small but still a pretty reasonable size and the thing that caught my eye was how packed the place was. People in CT love to ski and they have no issues with size of the mtn. The summit is actually accessed by 3 different lifts sprawling across about 10 different trails. Nothing too steep but certainly not completely flat either. Wasnt too happy about paying the $44 ticket price to ski a place of this size but figured, when in rome… After skiing for a couple hours and getting a good feel for the place, i figured i would try something a little more off the beaten path. Before going to the wedding, i did my nelsap research and found the most reasonably sized place that was right along the way was this place called Canton Ski Club that was on Sweetheart Mtn in Collinsville, CT. One of the other aspects I really like about checking out these old ski mtns besides everything previously mentioned is that you inevitably stumble upon some pretty cool towns and places along the way and that is precisely what happened in this instance with the town of Collinsville. What a beautiful place!IMG_0179 As you can see, right in the middle of the town is a well-preserved old mill with a river running right thru the middle of it. part of old mill After checking out the sights of the town I started to investigate where the old area was. It is relatively easy to find as it is just off of bridge st and found by taking a right onto dunne ave, which is a one way, and then pulling into the 4th driveway on left. You will see the signs and can even see the bottom housing of the old tow right off the parking lot. There are now 3 hiking trails that zig and zag up the mtn and around the base.. It is hard to tell whether or not these were part of any of the old ski trails but the two liftlines are still relatively clear and pretty recognizable, especially since a lot of the trees still have the old bullwheels on them. another old rope tow bullwheel on a tree This mtn I believe consisted of just two rope tows. There was a bottom tow that took you about halfway up and then just to your left(looking up the mtn) as you reach the top of the bottom tow you see the lower loading housing for the upper tow. The bottom tow line is still almost completely clear and recognizable and also offers a great view of the town of Colllinsville when you are about halfway up. view in to collinsville and river from top of bottom rope tow When I reached the top of the bottom tow, I looked over to my left to see the very well preserved and intricate top tow.the bottom of the summit rope tow Notice how many bullwheels there were. After a couple pics, i attempted to hike up the summit tow line. This one was much more grown in and hard to tell exactly where it went and ended as there were only two bullwheels I could find all the way up the mtn and no summit house at the top. From there it really just looks like a regular mtn and you would have no way of knowing it was ever a ski area as all the trails are just about completely grown in. There were certain areas that looked a little more clear than others but still pretty hard to navigate down. Other than a couple open sections that look more like glades, this mtn was pretty difficult to ski. I skied down this one area that looked more open but pretty steep and some rocks you had to navigate. trail ski down coming off the summit(mtn is pretty well grown in by this point) I would love to see a trail map to try and determine where some of the trails may have been but could not find one anywhere(maybe one was never created). On the nelsap site, i heard of people talking about ski trail names but never a map. I did two top to bottom runs and is a faily easy hike as only 400 vertical ft but with the trails so grown in the skiing was not completely enjoyable. On the last run down I was skiing in a fairly wide gladed type area that must have been a trail at some pt(located skiers right of the bottom tow) that still had lights up in the trees.still have the lights for night skiing up So while this is a really cool spot and definitely worth checking out, it would only be recommended for a very technical skier and even then the enjoyment level is not huge as you are pretty constantly dodging branches and navigating thru tight trees for only  a couple fairly open sections. I bet this would have been a really cool area to have skied at back in its heyday as it seemed to have a lot of character, a pretty good pitch, good vert for a CT area, and great views of the river and town of Colllinsville below.

I ended my day with some twilight skiing at Ski Sundown, which was only about 10-15 mins away and maybe another reason for the demise of Canton. The area was much bigger than I was expecting and rose straight up from the parking lot with some pretty good pitch all around. fresh corduroy at ski sundownVery pleasantly surprised with this place and would absolutely recommend this place out of all the CT ski areas. Easily worth a couple hours if on your way or close by. Perfect ending to a beatiful day.IMG_0186


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