Reporting Jay Lloyd
There are some things you don’t forget about a getaway weekend, like the sax wailing out the St. James Infirmary Blues, a baleful melody line rarely heard outside of New Orleans. But there it was at the Tavern on the Green, parked at the base of Liberty Mountain, a sprawling hill within a musket ball shot of the Gettysburg battlefield. Skiers and riders here enjoy trails that range from easy cruising to bump-clustered double black diamond challenges. When they hit the run out, the next stop is usually one of two mountain taverns. And while the mountain is little known in the Philadelphia area, it’s only a two hour ride from the western suburbs. If you’re looking for something different on the snow this winter, here’s an intro to skiing Liberty. – Jay Lloyd
WHAT YOU’LL FIND
Liberty Mountain rises over a valley in central Pennsylvania that’s within sight of nearby Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains. Twenty-two versatile slopes and trails open a world of spectacular cruising vistas and knee-pumping challenges — take your pick! The terrain park — studded with boxes, rails and jumps — has been contoured on the west side of the mountain, where steep headwalls combine with forgiving intermediate level terrain for upwardly mobile riders and freestyle skiers. On the east or “backside,” snow hounds will find an eye-filling panorama and trails designed for advanced and advancing skiers. Cruisers can put together an uninterrupted mile-long run. Novice and beginning sliders share the mountain’s central slopes. A broad beginner area has been fitted with a pair of carpet lifts and is protected from faster through-traffic. The network of trails and slopes is served by eight lifts, including five quads, and features an impressive tubing park.
At the lodge, you’ll find a fully stocked rental shop, a ski shop and a professionally staffed ski school. The main lodge is also home to a spacious cafeteria, a bakery and a slopeside pub. The entire skiing complex is attached to a newly refurbished hotel. You can ski straight from the hotel and lodge to the lifts.
When taking a break from the slopes, there’s a free and secure equipment checking station. With the recent acquisition of neighboring Carroll Valley Golf Club, a second hotel and additional restaurants have been added to the mix.
WHAT IT COSTS
Liberty Mountain offers a unique “flex” ticket. The four hour and eight hour tags begin their timed countdown when you buy them, not at a fixed time. Buy your four hour ticket at 10 a.m., ski until 2 p.m. Buy at 10:30, ski until 2:30. You get the idea.
Four hour flex: $58 Weekends, $48 Weekdays
Eight hour flex: $65 Weekends, $53 Weekdays
Open to close: $69 Weekends, $62 Weekdays
Discounts are available for seniors, juniors and military personnel. Look up all the rates here.
Lessons: $40 Group, $95 Private
A wide range of ski school packages are available that include lift tickets and rental equipment. Check them out here.
Equipment rental: $41 Ski, $48 Snowboard
WHERE TO STAY
I like to be right at the mountain to ski from my door to the lift and back again. The Liberty Mountain hotel is the right choice for that. The comfortable and well furnished rooms have all been recently refurbished, and the fact that the hotel is attached to the main lodge gives you the option of walking to a pub without setting foot outdoors. There are another two restaurants directly across the road on the golf side of the property in the Carroll Valley hotel, which is now part of the Liberty complex. Rooms are reasonably priced and start at $99 for two during the midweek and $129 on weekends, including a hot breakfast. Ski and stay packages are also available that add lift tickets and rental discounts. Troll for package rates here.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Several favorite area restaurants were detailed in my recent article on a getaway to Gettysburg, including the Inn at Liberty Mountain, where the centerpiece is a stone fireplace that puts a glow on the dining room during the evening hours. The menu at the golf club lodge ranges from fin food to familiar beef, pork and poultry. Mary tucked into a crab cake following a chicken sate appetizer. I needed a beef fix and chose a tender Delmonico steak. It was a solid dinner. Read the whole article here.
Tavern on the Green, located on the lower level of the Carroll Valley Hotel, offers up pub grub and weekend entertainment, while McKees Tavern at the main lodge has slopeside views and provides some après ski decompression.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Philadelphia, take I-76 W (Pennsylvania Turnpike) to exit 236 for US-15 toward Gettysburg/Harrisburg. Merge onto US-15 S and continue over the Maryland border. Turn right onto US-15 Alt S. Turn left onto US-15 Alt N/N Seton Ave. At the traffic light in town, turn right onto Route 140 West. At the PA line, Route 140 West becomes Route 16. Turn right on Route 116. Liberty Mountain Resort is three miles up on the right.
NOTE: When skiing at Liberty, take your golf clubs. A mild day can give you a double-dip of fun: Ski in the morning on freshly groomed trails, then hit the links in the afternoon under sunny skies. You can do it all without leaving the property.