Winter sports at the Glenmere in Chester.
It’s that season again, when many of us drag the skates and skis out of the attic in anticipation of winter thrills. For many thrill-seekers of years past, Chester was the winter sports destination of choice.
Chester boasts two ski resorts in its recent past with strikingly similar names: Craigmere and Glenmere.
During its resort heyday, Glenmere hosted a ski hill and rope tow on its steep, majestic front lawn overlooking Glenmere Lake, where the resort offered skating parties and lessons on its Adirondack-esque reservoir.
In fact, after the Glenmere mansion was built in 1914, owner Robert Goelet hosted a New Year’s Day matinee trotter horse race on the lake’s ice, with horses from the stables of W.A. Harriman, Pierre Lorrilard, and others rubbing wheels with one another. The Glenmere Ski Hill enjoyed its prime during the 1940s and 1950s, when it served as a private, upscale resort. Driving along the old Sugar Loaf-Florida Road, winter revelers could be seen on both sides, either skating or skiing.
At Chester’s most distant border from Glenmere, straddling into Blooming Grove, a small holiday spot sprang up like a brief, audacious spark in the 1960s: “Craigmere, The Favorite Family Resort.” Not to be confused with New Jersey’s Craigmeur, Craigmere was a quaint place with a lodge hewn from a dairy barn, a rope tow, and even a “magic carpet” conveyor belt that carried standing skiers back up the diminutive “summit” off Hulsetown Road.
The lodge is presently a private residence that retains much of its rustic “town and country” chalet splendor. No surprise, being it’s home to the family of a lifelong ski industry professional who has restored it with an eye for ski days gone by, but with updated, homier appointments.
At Chester’s southwest border sits Sugar Loaf, whose residents are tired of explaining to distant associates that it’s not “the ski resort” but, rather, a beautiful little colonial village.
Skiing was once the norm for residents here as well though.
In the 1940s, kids in leather boots on hickory skis would hike up and fly down the local hills. Mule-drawn carriages made do in the absence of mechanized rope tows and tony gondolas. Until late in the 20th century, Pine Hill Road was known as “Boomer Hill” because of the exceptional surrender it afforded to sled- or ski-induced gravity.
It’s no wonder that, at the western end of the Sugar Loaf Valley, one of the Hudson Valley’s oldest ski resorts, Mount Peter, still operates. With commanding views of the Warwick and Sugar Loaf valleys and a lack of loud, bustling crowds and lift lines, a day at Mount Peter brings anyone back to a time when winter sports meant something other than hiking through unending parking lots, standing in long lines, or trying to survive icy slopes crowded with out-of-control first-timers. Skiing has carved itself a special place in our local history, and any quiet winter weekday spent at Mount Peter brings one right back to that time.
Promotional material for “Craigmere, The Favorite Family Resort.”