New Brunswick ski hills open to show fall colors

New Brunswick hasn’t seen any snowfall yet, but that hasn’t stopped ski resort operators from activating the chair lifts to give people a true fall experience.

In what is quickly becoming a tradition, ski resorts welcome people to see the changing leaves from some of the best vantage points in the province.

Jordan Chaney, general manager of Crabbe Mountain in downtown Hainesville, said his event — called Fall Festival of Colors — allows the resort to extend its season up front a bit.

“We have all the infrastructure,” Chaney said. “It’s good to be able to find reasons to operate and extend our season.”

Meanwhile, Poley Mountain in Sussex is also opening the tracks to people wanting to see the changing leaves and said turnout was good.

A hit with families

The event appears to be a hit with New Brunswick parents and children.

Natasha Ashfield lives near Crabbe Mountain and said she would spend the day with her children hiking the trails, taking a ride in the hay wagon and maybe even taking the chair lifts to see better.

“It’s really nice to see so many people up the hill,” says Natasha Ashfield, who lives near Crabbe Mountain. (Aniekan Etuhube/CBC)

She said the day gives people the opportunity to get out and see what skiing has to offer, even if there is no snow yet.

“It’s really nice to see so many people up the hill,” Ashfield said.

“If they’re not skiing, they experience it a bit by riding the lift, taking in the views and touring the new lodge.”

Dean Flanagan also went out with his family over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Dean Flanagan, along with Tara and Davon, enjoy Thanksgiving weekend. (Aniekan Etuhube/CBC)

He said that although he is a summer person at heart, he can enjoy the fall activity.

“I enjoyed the summer more, but it’s nice to see the different colors,” Flanagan said. “At least you have four distinct seasons in Canada, so there’s something to do every time of the year.”

winter craving

It’s not the first year that Crabbe Mountain has held a festival, but it’s been a while due to COVID.

“It’s nice to be a little more free to talk and walk around outside and be with friends and meet new people,” Chaney said.

Chaney said the ski business was doing better than other leisure businesses during the pandemic because much of it is based on being outdoors, which was allowed during all phases of the pandemic, except the most restrictive.

Jordan Chaney, general manager of Crabbe Mountain in downtown Hainesville, says the event allows the resort to extend its season. (Aniekan Etuhube/CBC)

But there were still problems. Food and drink sales as well as school programs suffered and the lodge was often capped well below capacity.

But he said he hoped for a much more normal season this year.

“It’s nice to move into a new big building and be able to fill it 100% and not have to deal with 50% capacity or reduce capacity,” Chaney said.

“It’s going to make a big difference.”