Ask any skier or rider raised in the Philly area where they learned, and the answer will likely be “Spring Mountain.” This popular ski area — with its rustic lodge, outdoor fire pit and forgiving slopes — has launched generations of Pennsylvania skiers to higher elevations in both skill and mountain summits. At the heart of this Montgomery County hill is a ski school that hosts class trips organized by city and suburban schools. Young beginners get their first taste of snow exhilaration and learn how to negotiate a mountain or improve techniques while parents hug the rail, trying to spot their own budding Olympian coming off that distant headwall. Mid-week daylight hours are adult times and a welcome break from the office. Here’s what you’ll find at Spring. – Jay Lloyd
WHAT YOU’LL FIND:
The mountain, operated by the skiing Buckman family, offers more than meets the eye. The front, which is visible from the lodge, holds tubing chutes, and wide easy-to-negotiate novice slopes, but the unseen back side offers advanced skiers and riders the challenge of a black diamond headwall and trails fit for cruising or bump bouncing. Two lifts service the back runs, and a pair of connecting trails allows easy movement to and from the lodge side. Three more lifts service the front slopes and tubing chutes. The mountain is carved by eight varied runs, a terrain park and the chutes. The longest continuous runs here are a cruise from the “Rocktop” lift on the backside, following a line to the lodge or link to the “Buck” and “Hawk” intermediate trails back to the lift.
The ski school is staffed by professionally certified instructors and specializes in children, youth and women’s learning programs. The lodge holds a fully stocked ski and snowboard rental shop, a ski accessory shop and a comfortable lounge area with picture windows and a mountain view. It’s the perfect spot for relaxation while watching the kids do their turns on the hill. Freshies Café cranks out quick ski fare including pizzas, burgers and wraps. By the end of the month, it will be serving up beer and wine, too.
WHAT IT COSTS:
All day lift ticket: $41 Weekends, $31 Weekdays
After 4 p.m.: $27 All days
Seniors (65-69): $30 Weekends , $10 Weekdays
Under 5/Over 70: $15 Weekends, $5 Weekdays
Rental Equipment: $29 Weekends, $24 Weekdays
Lessons: $30 Group, $65 Private
Look for learn to ski packages and daily lift ticket discounts here.
WHERE TO STAY:
The newly refurbished Woodside Lodge has history, ultra comfortable rooms and suites, a trendsetting restaurant and a modern après ski bar. The best part: It backs up to the mountain and is three minutes away from the main lodge.
Once a destination resort for summer visitors who arrived by train, the revived Woodside Manor was the vision of Rick and Gayle Buckman as a compliment to their bustling ski area. Sold-out weekends and return visitors indicate the lodge has found its niche. Room rates range from $129 to $149 per night and include a freshly cooked hot breakfast.
WHERE TO DINE:
Look no farther than the Woodside Lodge with its daily happy hour, half-price burgers nights on Wednesdays and diverse menu that crosses the latitude from pub fare appetizers to perfectly blended entrees and stars a seafood-laden bouillabaisse with a supporting cast of steak, veal, poultry and fin food. Turn your cravings loose by menu gazing here.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Philadelphia, take the Schuylkill Expressway West to Route 422 West. Exit at Route 29 North and follow 29 to Spring Mountain Road and the mountain.
NOTE: If you have fourth graders in the family, they likely qualify for a free season pass. It’s available to fourth graders in all Montgomery County school districts; all public, private and parochial schools in Philadelphia; and select school districts in Berks, Bucks, Chester and Delaware Counties. See the full list and details here.