Skiers and snowboarders in the Mid-Atlantic will be heading out to the Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Laurel Mountain Resort and Hidden Valley Resort in southwest Pennsylvania. They are among the state’s 21 ski areas open to the public.
Part of the Laurel Highlands, the three resorts offer a range of snow sport activities but differ in size. Seven Springs, a 285-acre playground, is by far the largest of three compared to Laurel Mountain Ski Resort, 70 acres within Laurel Hill State Park and Hidden Valley Resort with 65 acres off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The name Laurel Highlands comes from Pennsylvania’s state flower, the mountain laurel. All three resorts are under the same ownership.
A fourth area, the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort provides a nearby 25-acre ski hill with a chair lift and a tow rope for access. At the present time, only hotel guests are accepted.
Due to COVID-19, the resorts have taken precautions for their customers. Masks are required while skiers wait for the chairlifts and when they are riding up. Skiers may remove them while going downhill unless it’s really cold, then skiers might want to keep them on. Lift attendants will seat only members of the same group–family and friends, but space restrictions will apply for groups of the unaffiliated. Masks will be available on request. Yes, things will be different.
Lift tickets must be bought through a computer or smartphone, which will create a barcode that is scanned at the resort’s entrance. Likewise, equipment rentals and ski school classes must be purchased in advance. No walk-ups are allowed. “We want to keep it as touchless as possible,” says Anna Weltz of the Laurel Highlands tourist office. The same holds true for the purchase of the Highland Season Pass, the price of which has been rolled back to early season levels.
By far the largest, Seven Springs offers 33 trails with two, six-pack lifts, three quads, five triples and four surfaces. It has seven terrain parks and a snow tubing hill.
Laurel Mountain’s 20 trails include the highest vertical on Laurel Ridge or 761 feet. It boasts of a double black diamond run, Lower Wildcat, but has no terrain park. Four chairlifts serve its 70 acres.
Hidden Valley located off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, offers 26 trails, nine lifts and two terrain parks on 65 skiable acres.
Lodging? There’s plenty at Seven Springs with its slopeside 414-room Main Lodge Hotel plus townhouses, private cottages and chalets on the property. The 85-room The Inn at Hidden Valley is located on resort property.
Seven Springs is about three hours from the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area and once there, a visitor is 15-20 minutes to Hidden Valley, one hour to Laurel and one hour to Nemacolin.
Opening dates, of course, depend on the weather with Seven Spring planning on Thanksgiving to mid-December and Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain around Christmas.