Reporting Jay Lloyd
If there was such a thing as a mirage in winter, this would be it.
Imagine topping a rise on the access road to Bear Creek Mountain Resort in nearby Berks County. You get an eyeful of broad white ribbons, with a parade of skiers and riders gliding down toward the lake on your right. To the left, you’ll spot snow fringed chalets and a sprawling lodge that forms the ski-in, ski-out hotel, spa, gourmet dining and ski complex. This is Bear Creek. Let’s take the tour. – Jay Lloyd
This 510-foot vertical hill has come a long way from its beginning as Doe Mountain, a learning mountain for area youngsters. Trails have been widened and a trio of runs has been carved out for advanced skiers. For snow surfers from beginner through intermediate, three terrain parks have been designed to move riders progressively from easier features to more difficult rails, tables and jumps. For the cruising skier, “Broadway,” a long gently-graded trail winds around the mountain from summit to base with spectacular views and access to a variety of more steeply-graded intermediate slopes and trails. For kids, I’ve always liked the dedicated beginner and teaching slopes, “Teddy Bear” and “Cub Run.” They’re sealed off by tree lines from faster traffic and provide a safe environment without distractions for youngsters to nail the basics.
The stats include:
Lifts: 6 including 3 quads, a triple and 2 carpets
Snow tubing: 5 lanes, 1 carpet lift
WHAT IT COSTS
All-day adult lift tickets are $47 midweek and $62 on weekends and holidays.
Youth and Senior Citizen tags check in at $40 midweek and $53 on weekends and holidays.
Bear Creek also offers four hour tickets and kids under 5 and adults over 70 ski free. Also look for packages that bundle lift tickets with lodging, lessons and rental equipment. Check all the rates here.
Bear Creek maintains an impressive roster of professionally certified instructors for both skiing and snowboarding. They have a core of teachers skilled in children’s instruction as well as freestyle methods for kids and adults. Group lessons here span 2-1/2 hours, which is ideal for learning a specific technique and then reinforcing it in the group setting. Instructors are also available for private lessons and racing clinics. Look for packages that include lift tickets, lessons and rental equipment. See all the programs and rates here.
A separate building houses a well-stocked rental shop run by experienced fitters and featuring high performance skis and snowboards in a bright, easy to navigate space. Helmets are also available. Lodging guests can be fitted and pick up their gear right at the hotel. Daily rentals are $35.
Scoring one of the ground floor mountain view rooms at the hotel pays off with more than a stunning vista. The sliding glass doors open directly onto the slopes; simply step out and into skis, then glide and pole to the nearby lifts. Sixty of the spacious 118 rooms here offer mountain views. There’s also a convenient equipment checking service in the rustic, fireplace-enhanced lobby. The hotel features a full service spa, indoor pool, fitness center and top shelf bar and restaurant. Look over the accommodations, packages and rates here.
DINING AND SIPPING
The Grille is the signature restaurant at Bear Creek. Slide into a fireside or slopeside table for a dinner that defies ski eatery expectations. The menu ranges from salmon on a cedar plank to steaks and ribs. Perfectly cooked and rare Yellowfin tuna is a soy flavored treat. For a before or after dinner drink, the fireplace warmed bar, crafted in glass and mahogany, is a comfy spot to wrap a ski day with weekend entertainment.
Cathedral ceilings soar over the Mountain Eatery, a spacious cafeteria that occupies the central space of the base lodge and features a pair of blazing fireplaces and tall picture windows that allow a wide view of the mountain. All the ski lodge favorites are here, from pizza to burgers and soups.
For a bistro atmosphere with familiar sandwiches and wraps, the Trail’s End Café is the spot.
GOOD TO KNOW
As the mountain expanded, so did the parking complex. There is a dedicated lot for hotel guests and shuttle jitney service from the more remote lots.
Equipment is safe here, thanks to a staffed outdoor ski check corral located right in front of the lodge. Whether you’re stopping in for a quick warm-up or lingering over lunch, drop off the gear. The service is free.
From Philadelphia, catch the PA Turnpike Northeast Extension to the Quakertown exit. Head south on Route 663. Turn right in Pennsburg on Route 29 North and go to the traffic light at Route 100. Go straight across 100 and continue for another 4 miles to the mountain.