Reporting Jay Lloyd
The trip to some of the area’s best winter resorts for skiing and snowboarding can be measured in minutes if you live in the Delaware Valley. From the foothills of the Pocono Mountains just north of Allentown to central Montgomery County where generations of skiers made their first turns, the region is alive with snow sports action. Here’s what’s new for the upcoming season at the three area resorts closest to home. –Jay Lloyd
1600 Blue Mountain Drive
Palmerton, PA 18071
There’s a new thrill on the trails at BLUE MOUNTAIN this season—along with a brilliant expansion of skiing and riding terrain, a new super-steep trail and a great sun drenched spot to park your bones for a lunch break. This season, Blue Mountain becomes the only east coast luge training and recruitment site, complete with luge coaches, that’s open to the public. For $10, you’ll be able to take three runs and find out what it’s like to maneuver a small sled through a lightning fast downhill trough.
For skiers and riders looking for black diamond action, Blue Mountain unveils Razorback, a new downhill challenge for intermediates reaching for the next level and experts looking to test their skills. Along with a new connecting trail between Burma and Midway, Blue has expanded to 39 slopes and trails on 164 acres of ski-able terrain.
Off the mountain, check out the expanded outdoor Summer Courtyard and Cornerstone Grill—more eateries for slopeside dining on those sunny winter days.
Look up new trail maps, prices, packages and events here.
757 Spring Mountain Rd.
Spring Mount, PA 19478
Previously, generations of skiers and snowboarders carved their first turns on this family-friendly hill, but it was always a day-trip. Now, Spring Mountain will provide overnight lodging in the newly renovated Woodside Inn, a venerable old inn, refurbished with two-room suites and a bunkroom for small groups. Combine this with a restaurant and bar, and the après ski crowd has a reason to unwind close to the slopes.
On the trails, mountain operators have also converted one lift to multi-speed. The ability to run at lower speed gets novice skiers and kids on the chairs faster and easier. And for those have long wanted to get a closer view and a few pictures of their offspring in ski school classes and on the hill, a new parents’ viewing area has been designed, complete with a fire pit and Adirondack chairs. Spring Mountain also continues its popular program that allows fourth graders to ski and ride free.
For a rundown on lessons for adults and youngsters, cruise here.
BEAR CREEK MOUNTAIN RESORT
101 Doe Mountain Lane
Macungie, PA 18062
BEAR CREEK MOUNTAIN RESORT has grown from a local learning mountain to a full blown year-round resort and major Pennsylvania winter playground. Now, it’s launching the 2012 ski season with new challenges on the slopes and added comforts in the lodge. Look for new features to test snowboarding skills in the terrain park and powder-like conditions on the trails, thanks to a new snow groomer and a brand new après-ski patio with a slopeside vista. And this winter, skiers and riders will have the added convenience of a seasonal rental program. Rent the latest in high-performance skis and boards when the snow starts flying, and bring it all back when the spring thaw sets in. For growing kids and adults who like to keep up with the latest technology, it’s a reasonable alternative to buying new gear every year.
For the latest in skiing, lodging and dining packages, click here.
Each of the featured resorts also offers snow tubing, a reasonably priced alternative activity for friends or family members who don’t ski but want to go along for the fun.
And even though these ski areas are close enough for an easy day-trip, more local winter sports enthusiasts are taking advantage of low priced “ski-and-stay” packages that turn a one-day activity into a weekend getaway. Prices take another dip for mid-week visits.