Reporting Jay Lloyd
Nestled in the western Poconos, Jack Frost and Big Boulder are two mountains that share lift tickets and amenities but are separated by about 2 miles of scenic country road. It meanders from the entrance to Jack Frost’s access road, past the classic Split Rock Lodge, along the banks of Lake Harmony and to the front door of Big Boulder. But the mountains have two distinct personalities. Jack Frost is the daytime area, favored by skiers, while Boulder draws a youthful evening and nighttime crowd, full of terrain park vigor. Let’s explore.
If you’ve never skied an “Upside-Down” mountain, Jack Frost with its’ 600 vertical feet is the place to try. It simply means that the base lodge, rental shop, ski school and other facilities are at the summit rather than the runout. You take the first run, without having to get a lift. The layout is also unique in allowing skiers to find their own comfort and challenge level without any guesswork about getting in over their heads. The easiest trails are on the left and they get progressively more difficult as you move to the right until reaching the steepest challenge on “East Mountain”.
TRAIL AND SLOPES
“One Park” is Jack Frosts’ signature terrain park that rests on an intermediate slope but lets riders tackle varying degrees of challenge over bumps, jumps and features.
It’s among 20 trails and slopes, reached by 10 lifts including 1 quad and a pair of triples. Two surface lifts get you to an active summit tubing park.
Jack Frost is one of those rare ski areas that offer “Adaptive Skiing” instruction for people with varying disabilities, primarily amputees and the blind. The program was developed during the Viet Nam war to aid the returning wounded enter a lifetime sport. It’s continued since the early 70’s.
The ski school is primarily geared to entry level skiers and riders, but providing terrain for all skill levels. You’ll find group and private lessons for adults and children. There’s also very impressive youth racing instruction and programs.
There’s a fully stocked fleet of skis, boards, boot, poles and helmets. Everything you need to get on the hill. And if you’ve forgotten hats, goggles, gloves or neck warmers, there’s an easy to navigate retail shop in the main lodge.
EATING AND SIPPING
E-2000 is the upstairs bar and lounge with a view, pub grub, high energy weekend entertainment and dancing. Downstairs, the cafeteria pumps out high volume and high quality eats for skiers and riders who want to sit, but not for long. The downstairs Frosty Toboggan Bar and Grill is a fireplace setting spot with full service noshing and sipping. A trio of grab and run food stalls offer up burgers, pizza, burritos and pop finger food plus appropriate wash-downs.
The energy ramps up as the generational level glides down at Big Boulder. The action here goes 7 nights a week from 3 to 9pm. On weekends. it’s a morning through night playground. The entire mountain is under the lights and fully half of the geography is devoted to terrain parks. This is where parents, after a day at Jack Frost, drop the youngsters off for a night of riding, while Mom and Dad have an intimate or lively dinner at one of the nearby restaurants and pubs.
TERRAIN PARKS, TRAILS AND SLOPES
Five multi-skill and varied feature terrain parks occupy major portions of 15 slopes and trails served by 8 lifts. Two surface lifts carry visitors to the summit of the Big Boulder Tubing Park. Looking up the mountain, riders and skiing seeking easier sliding, navigate to trails on the right. It becomes progressively more difficult as you hang left. But for long cruising runs, head all the way to the left and a long easy to negotiate round-the-mountain run. Don’t miss the view from the head wall of black diamond “Mittle-Weg”.
The same teaching methods that you find at Jack Frost, but with a heavier portion of snowboard instruction and without the adaptive program.
EATING AND SIPPING
The Big Boulder T-Bar is the lively spot for drinks, pub grub and gab after a day in the parks. Check out the weekend live entertainment. On sunny days, head to the deck on a separate lodge at the base of the “Big Boulder Park”. It’s the spot to fuel up on hand-held chow while grabbing a tan. The cafeteria in the main lodge serves up all the familiar ski food favorites from chix fingers to chili. The Cantina dishes out the grab-and-go heat, tucked into classic burritos and tacos. Enjoy.
WHAT IT COSTS
Take the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike to the Pocono exit. Make a left onto Route 940 east and go about 4 miles to the traffic light at Jack Frost Mountain Rd. Hang a left and follow the access road to the lodge. From there to Big Boulder, simply cross 940 at the light and follow the scenic road to the mountain. If you head to Boulder first, there’s a new shortcut for E-Z pass holders. Take the Turnpike’s Northeastern Extension to Big Boulder, Lake Harmony region and shave off 6 miles and approximately 10 minutes driving time. The new E-Z Pass only interchange, Exit 87, is situated between the Mahoning Valley (Exit 74) and Pocono (Exit 95) interchanges and is accessible from State Route 903 in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County.