Reporting Jay Lloyd
Once upon a time, in a previous century, ski areas were the exclusive province of skiers. Winter–and only winter–ruled. Then ski area operators realized they were sitting on a summertime treasure that was lying dormant. And so, “Summer on the Slopes” was born. Last year, Camelback Mountain in the nearby Poconos saw more summertime visitors than it hosted in the previous record-breaking winter. So, what’s going on? Here’s a rundown. –Jay Lloyd
757 Spring Mount Rd.
Spring Mount, PA 19478
Spring Mountain burst onto the summer scene a few years ago and never looked back. This popular Montgomery county ski area has turned into a versatile year-round playground with zip line tours, rock climbing, GeoCaching and a most unusual bar and eatery. It’s the closest mountain to home that hosts the thrill of zipping along above tree top heights, tethered to a cable. Tours can be arranged for all ability and tolerance levels. Combine a zip line tour with a rock climbing session, and you’ve got an adventure filled day on the hill!
For a different type of challenge, form a team and try the latest technology-aided craze, GeoCaching. Using GPS units, players comb the mountainside to find pre-selected coordinates and a variety of treasures. The team that finds the most in the least amount of time walks away the winner.
Later, with the arrival of happy hour, the Tiki Bar opens. This Caribbean-themed watering hole also sells steaks and seafood that you cook yourself on the outdoor Tiki grill. It’s one way to keep guests from complaining about the food, but it’s also a blast.
Getting there: From Philadelphia, take the Schuylkill Expressway West to the Blue Route (476) North to the Northeast Extension to exit 31. Turn right onto Route 63. Take Route 63 thru Harleysville and crossing over Route 113. After the 113 intersection, travel approximately 2 miles to Shelly Road. Turn left on Shelly Road. Go 2 miles and turn right on Spring Mount Road, then follow signs to Spring Mountain.
BEAR CREEK MOUNTAIN RESORT
101 Doe Mountain Lane
Macungie, PA 18062
Mountain biking and hiking along the fringe of the ski trails and the sprawling Bear Creek Mountain property are attracting outdoor enthusiasts to a pristine and challenging adventure. Over seven miles of intermediate to advanced mountain biking terrain is available. That means single track trails with all of nature’s obstacles including, roots, branches, rocks and a few bridges thrown in for good measure. If you’re not up to biking, take a hike or bring the dog (just don’t forget the leash). Check in at the trail head kiosk on the access road, overlooking the lake. And the price is also good news: use of the trails is free.
Summertime activities at Bear Creek also involve GeoCaching and disk golf. In case you missed that one, the course is marked by baskets and the golf ball is actually a Frisbee.
At the end of the ride, hike or game, the Trail’s End Café and Bar serves up the toddies and lunch. The popular Grille offers an upscale menu for lunch or dinner and active sports bar. The 118 room Bear Creek Resort hotel turns a day-trip into a weekend destination.
Getting there: From Philadelphia, 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 it to the Route 100 intersection. Continue straight at the traffic light (do not follow 100/29!) for 4 miles to Bear Creek.
CAMELBEACH MOUNTAIN WATER PARK
One Camelback Rd.
Tannersville, PA 18372
When winter gives way to spring and summer, Camelback Mountain and its snow covered trails are transformed into Camelbeach, a dynamic, active water park with thrilling slides, wave pools, swimming pools and a beach town attitude. Meanwhile, the mountain summit and hillsides are alive with zip lines and adventure obstacle courses. Ski lifts provide the ride to Camelback’s mountain top lodge for seemingly endless scenic vistas on the surrounding Pocono Mountains.
Below at the water park, food, drinks and music are all served up at the main lodges that now vibrate to the softer tread of sandals and flip-flops. The Mountain becomes a total resort, complete with nearby hotel and condo accommodations. Check out our Guide to Summer in the Pocono Mountains for more info. http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2011/06/22/guide-to-summer-in-the-pocono-mountains/
Getting there: From Philadelphia, take the I-476 (NE Extension of the PA Turnpike) North to the Lehigh Valley exit 56 (old exit 33), then Route 22 East to Route 33 North to I-80 West to Exit 299 (old Exit 45) Tannersville. Follow the signs to Camelback.
Shawnee on Delaware, PA 18356
Shawnee Mountain Ski Area provides the ideal backdrop for a series of summer and fall festivals, some that challenge the imagination and others that excite an adventurous spirit. From garlic (who knew?) to cowboys, visitors can observe or be a part of the action.
At the Pocono Mountain Garlic Festival, food and crafts are entirely devoted to garlic, so vampires should avoid the place. But if you have a sudden craving for garlic flavored ice cream or want a kitchen gadget emblazoned with a garlic motif, this is the place to be! Cooking demonstrations and non-stop music drive the fun.
Then, on September 24th and 25th, the cow hands take over with a full-scale rodeo. Bronc and bull riders compete for big bucks to the sounds of top country-western entertainment. There’s also a major chili cook-off, so if your recipe gets kudos from friends and family, enter it here. http://www.shawneemt.com/pdf/chilicookoffentryform-individual.pdf
Finally, on October 8th and 9th, look for Shawnee’s brand of Oktoberfest. It’s dubbed the Autumn Timber Festival, and there will be lumberjack demonstrations, tethered balloon rides and scenic chairlift rides, all set amid the dramatically changing colors of mountain foliage.
Getting there: From Philadelphia, take the Route 476 N to Route 22 East exit in Allentown. Follow Route 22 East to Route 33 North into I-80 East to PA Exit 309 (Old Exit 52) Route 209 North. Follow Shawnee Mountain signs.
SNO COVE WATER PARK
1000 Montage Rd.
Scranton, PA 18507
The newest Pennsylvania water park brings its splash and swim fun to the slopes on Sno Mountain, located just on the fringe of Scranton. The thrill-a-minute Alpine Water Slide keeps the adrenalin pumping as it plunges through “Slaloms” and Giant Slaloms” into a kicked-up pool below (Note: The kids will have a blast, but they have to be 3 feet tall to take the dive). Look for wave pools, a water luge and bumper boats.
Meanwhile, high above the slopes, the Zip Rider carries thrill-seekers on a cable-tethered ride over the ski trails at high speed. To keep refueled, the Sno Grille Restaurant and Bar has a mountain-scape deck with riveting views, a versatile menu and a guy behind the bar that knows his way around a martini.
Getting there: From Philadelphia, take I-476 (PA Turnpike Northeast Extension) to exit 115 for Wyoming Valley. Pick up I-81 North. Take exit 182, Montage Mountain Road, and follow the signs.
1600 Blue Mountain Rd.
Danielsville, PA 18038
The Blue Mountain slopes and trails have become a magnet for Philadelphia-area skiers and riders due to the terrain and its proximity to the Delaware Valley. But this versatile winter attraction is just getting its feet wet. The first major test was hosting the recent Pocono Blues Festival, which was a thumping success. Weekend evenings at the outdoor Slopeside Pub and Grill reverberate with live music (that’s heavy on classic rock) from popular artists. Family activities this season revolve around disk golf, a growing summertime attraction for area ski resorts, and Blue offers three courses on the slopes and at the base. Look for more action here in summers to come!
Getting there: From Philadelphia, take Route 476 North to the Lehigh Valley, exit 56. After the tollbooth, bear right and take Route 22 East approx. five miles to Route 145 North (MacArthur Road). Go approx. nine miles to the traffic light at the far end of the long bridge. Turn right onto Blue Mountain Drive and go approx. three miles to traffic light in Cherryville. Go straight thru Cherryville, approx. three miles, to Danielsville, then go straight thru Danielsville to the entrance sign just past the top of the mountain.
One note: Many skiers make summertime visits to the slopes to check out nearby rental properties for winter stays and to score deep discounts on season lift passes.