By Jay Lloyd

There aren’t too many people who can boast of having a neighborhood ski area, but we can. Suburban Philadelphians count the travel time to Spring Mountain in central Montgomery County in minutes. For me, it’s 12. A former KYW-Newsradio editor headed there every morning after work for one solid winter, learning to ski. The following year, Jerry Klein was on the slopes of Aspen and the Austrian Alps. Wherever you find Philadelphia skiers and riders, ask them where they took their first lessons. It’s a good bet the answer will be “Spring Mountain.” Let’s make some tracks and take the tour. – Jay Lloyd

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

Spring Mountain is a learning area on steroids. While the focus is on its professionally staffed ski and snowboard school, the resort — which includes a neighboring inn, restaurant and popular watering hole — has enough versatile terrain for enjoyable cruising and riding the bumps. The mountain is separated into two unique sides. The front is ideal for new skiers and riders or advancing intermediates. The back slopes offer steeper terrain and a bump field for advanced sliders. There’s easy movement between the two via a pair of connector trails. Hawk carries traffic from front to back. Return to the lodge on Buck.

MOUNTAIN STATS

Slopes and Trails: 8
Lifts: 4
Terrain Parks: Park features are slotted around the mountain
Snow Tubing: 2 chutes and a carpet lift
Night Skiing: 100%
Snowmaking: 100%

WHAT IT COSTS

Adult all-day lift tickets: $33 mid-week, $43 on weekends and holidays
Evening tickets (after 4pm): $28
Under 5 and over 70: $5 mid-week, $$15 weekends and holidays
Tubing (After 5 p.m.): $20 mid-week, $25 on weekends and holidays.

Note: Spring Mountain offers specials and nightly discounts. Check all the rates here.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

SKI AND SNOWBOARD SCHOOL

Decades ago, an Austrian mountaineer named Gunther Starker made a name at Spring Mountain running a school with an Iron Man approach. It was like marine boot camp. But boy, did he turn out great skiers. Things have softened considerably as a dedicated staff concentrates on school kids in multi-week after-school programs to assure continuity in learning, and caters to school groups that arrive by bus, often as a field trip option. The ski school takes children as young as three in the “Ski Bee” program, teaching the basics on starting a lifetime of fun on sticks and boards. Adult and youngster group and private lessons are also available. Group lessons check in at $30, private coaching at $70. First time beginner packages including a lift ticket and rental equipment are $50. Check out all the lesson options here.

RENTAL SHOP

The sheer number of new snow seekers and school groups has the Spring Mountain rental shop humming. The staff has turned the process of moving skiers and riders through fitting and checkout into an art form. There’s plenty of changing space, and rental lockers are available for street gear. Complete equipment packages rent for $25 on weekdays, $30 on weekends.

EATS AND SIPS

The ski lodge cafeteria offers up a selection of ski chomps including pizzas, burgers and dogs to get the kids fed and back out on the slopes in a flash. But for adults this season, look for the opening of the Powder Pig Pub. It’s a brand new restaurant on the second deck of the lodge with a panoramic view of the slopes, a 13 seat bar and an eatery and lounge that accommodates 100 at tables, many are windowside. The food will be from the stylebook of the popular Woodside Lodge, owned and operated by the skiing Buckman family. Rick and Gayle Buckman also operate the mountain. The Powder Pig is likely to become the apres ski spot and a unique vantage point for parents to watch their offspring on the slopes.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

LODGING

The Woodside Lodge is a totally refurbished historic inn with cozy suites that include a sitting room. The restaurant and bar has become a local gathering place and serves up a full menu of American staples with international accents or pub grub for lighter appetites. Breakfast is included with overnight stays. Check prices and booking info here.

NOTE

Spring Mountain offers a free season pass for fourth graders in area school districts. All Philadelphia and Montgomery County schools are included along with select districts in Berks, Bucks, Chester and Delaware Counties. See if your child’s school or district is included here.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

GETTING THERE

From Philadelphia:

Take the Schuylkill Expressway West to the Blue Route (476) North to Northeast Extension to exit 31. Turn right onto Route 63. Take Route 63 thru Harleysville crossing over Route 113. After 113 intersection, travel approximately two miles to Shelly Road. Turn left on Shelly Road. Go two miles and turn right on Spring Mount Road and follow signs to Spring Mountain.

If you travel the suburbs via Route 422, just exit at Collegeville and head north on 29 through Schwenksville before turning right on Spring Mount Rd. Follow the signs to the mountain.

Think Snow!