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Getaway Guide To Bear Creek Mountain

January 28, 2016 7:00 AM

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

Reporting Jay Lloyd

We don’t have to go far to find a destination snow-sport resort that energizes skiers, snowboarders, tubers, spa-goers, diners and sippers. It’s all rolled into one package of winter class. Bear Creek Mountain in nearby Berks County is less than an hour away from most suburban snow seekers, but is a tempting weekend stop-over with a modern rustic hotel connected to spa, pool, restaurants and lodge, offering ski-in, ski-out access to the slopes. And to think, it all started as a compact learning area that blossomed to a resort. What there? Here’s what. – Jay Lloyd
(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

Ask your parents. They’ll remember Bear Creek as “Doe Mountain”, a place to go after school or on date nights for some skiing under the lights. But there’s been a world of growth and change.

THE MOUNTAIN

Bear Creek is carved with 22 slopes and trails including 3 action filled terrain parks plus a snow tubing run. It’s all served by 6 lifts that keep the upward traffic moving. The skiing and riding ranges from learning terrain and scenic cruising to bumps and steeps. The beginner slopes are well protected from faster traffic and provide an ideal learning environment enhanced by “Magic Carpet” surface lifts for young skiers and riders taking their first runs. “Broadway”, a long cruising run takes more advanced skiers from lifts that rise from the main lodge to the challenging back side of the mountain for a combination of steep and intermediate trails. There, a quad lift can keep you moving for hours of variety, mixing tree lined trails and open slopes. It’s all covered by a state-of-the-art snowmaking system and is lit for sliding by night.

TRAIL STRATEGY

If park shredding is your thing, take the “A” lift in front of the lodge and swing right at the summit to find air and features in the “Black Bear Park”. Go left for the long action in “Cascade Park.” But if you’re on skis and looking for a varied run from summit to base, turn right off the neighboring “B” lift and follow “Kodiak”, bypassing the access headwall for the “Black Bear Park”. Then take the “B” back up to “Broadway” and steer for the backside. Family and friends of different ability levels can follow “Broadway”, then split off at intersections that access advanced, intermediate and easier trails for a run to the base and a reunion for the ride back up on the “F” quad.

WHAT IT COSTS

Adult Open to Close lifts tags check out at $65 on weekends, $49 mid-week. Youth and Senior tickets are $56 on weekends, $42 mid-week. Four-hour tickets are available, Seniors 70 plus and children under 5 ski free. Discounts are also available for active and retired military, police, firefighters and emergency workers. Complete sets of rental equipment are $38. Check out all the prices here: http://www.bcmountainresort.com/snowsports/snowsports-l/tickets-passes

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

SNOW SPORTS SCHOOL

Bear Creek provides ideal learning terrain on novice friendly slopes. A variety of private and group lesson packages blend professionally certified ski and snowboard instructors with students at varying levels of advancement from first-timers to advancing sliders who need brush up instruction in bumps or steeper headwalls. A full group package including beginner lift ticket, rental equipment and instruction starts at $82 midweek and $97 on weekends. See all the group rates here: http://www.bcmountainresort.com/discovery-packages
Reservations are suggested for private lessons. Slide over here to check the lessons and rates: http://www.bcmountainresort.com/private-lessons

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

SNOW TUBING

Solo rider tubes zip down dedicated chutes in view of the hotel. The snow tubing slope has its own carpet lift to keep the traffic rolling. Two-hour sessions are available on weekday evenings, day and night on weekends. Sessions can fill up on busy days, so check in early. Tubing tickets go for $24 midweek and $30 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Find all the info here: http://www.bcmountainresort.com/snowsports/snowsports-l/snowtubing

SIPS AND CHOMPS

Bear Creek is unique in featuring one of Berks County’s most popular restaurants. The Grille has a strong local following and has become the spot for skiing couples to have a romantic dinner while the kids are on the slopes, under the lights. The menu is varied with creative takes on traditional dishes covering fin, fur, feather and garden entrees. From filet to Jambalaya, there’s a favorite to be found and accompanied by a view of snow-covered trails. The fireplace warmed bar is a popular watering hole for apre ski relaxation or a before dinner drink. For more casual eateries, the main cafeteria is a bright, spacious room with burning fires and a wide variety of ski area finger food, soups and chili. Or try the table service options at the Trail’s End Cafe. The focus here is on sandwiches and pizza.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

LODGING

I’ve found the hotel at Bear Creek is a perfect complement to the restaurant and a day on the slopes. It combines modern amenities with a rustic Adirondack ski experience and ambience. Rooms are well furnished, many offer mountain views. Guests who are renting equipment have to go no further than the lobby to be fitted, and then glide right to the lifts. Weekends are usually booked well in advance, but midweek stays are often available at about $220 a night. There are packages that include lift tickets and discounts on rental equipment and lessons. See them here: http://www.bcmountainresort.com/features/430-midweek-ski-stay

GETTING THERE

From Philadelphia and northern suburbs: Take I-476 North (the PA Turnpike Northeast Extension) to exit 44/Quakertown. Turn right onto Route 663 South towards Pennsburg. Turn right onto Route 29 North and follow to the Route 100 intersection. Continue straight at traffic light (do not follow 100/29) for 4 miles to Bear Creek.

Think Snow.

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