Swain has been running since Dave and Bina Robinson first cleared Clark Slope by hand in 1947. That single tow rope operation has since blossomed into a 120 acre ski area with 33 runs. A modest 650-foot drop and 3 terrain parks bring in locals and visitors from both Buffalo and Rochester for weekends of great skiing. Because the slope faces north, it doesn’t get as much natural snow as other resorts in the area, but with 90 acres of snow making coverage, Swain supplements what Mother Nature provides. The difficulty mix for the resort spreads out across 9 novice trails, 12 intermediates, and 9 expert runs. Night skiing is available for the majority of the runs in the middle, from 80 Acres to Upper Robinson, encompassing about 80 acres.
Where to Ski
From the base, you have the option of two quad lifts with a double chair in between. A Magic Carpet services the learning area, and a short quad allows access to three nice beginner-rated cruisers. If you’re just warming up, use these three to get your ski legs under you, then take Quad 3 up the mountain to the longest trail on the mountain, Mile Sweep (which clocks in at 5280 feet). This gentle groomer runs along the east border of the park, letting you experience all 650 feet of the vertical.
Intermediate skiers will find trails suited to their experience along the outer edges of the park. On the east side, two fun glades twist in and out of a series of moderate steeps, while the western edge is all about tree-lined groomers and some great short steeps. Be careful, because Outlaw, an expert rated steep lurks in between two popular runs. Outlaw is a little bumpy and encourages speed, but it’s not outrageous if you don’t go in blind.
The expert trails are all about steeps and bumps. Rattler is one of the favorite runs, a narrow steep with a double fall line that gently curves to the right on the way down. If you’re after bumps and speed, head to Glenn’s run when Mother Nature has laid down a carpet of fresh powder. One of the favorite steeps on the mountain is Robinson’s Run, an expert trail that transitions into an intermediate as it travels the fall line right under Quad 1. There’s a variety of terrain here, and for an extra special drop in, use Dave’s Run for a short jaunt through the trees before you speed down.
After (or during) a long day of skiing, there’s one place to be at Swain: Shawmut Grille. With cold beer on tap, wide open seating with great views of the slopes, and a roaring fireplace, this is where many skiers opt to cozy in for the evening. Live music happens most Fridays and Saturdays, with local bands raising a ruckus for the enjoyment of everyone. More casual fare is found during the day at Mercer’s. Cafeteria style food is here, from fresh pizzas, chicken tenders and fries to homemade donuts and brownies. The Espresso Lift Coffee House has fresh brewed coffee and a fireplace to warm yourself between runs as well as tasty sweets to refuel you.