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Best place to ski between Philly and Pittsburgh?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'm going to be visiting some friends in Philly for New Year's and then swinging across the state to visit my folks in Pittsburgh, where I grew up. I skied Seven Springs twice as an adolescent but never really became a skier until moving out west.


I'd like to stop on the way and get a morning fix if possible. What's my best bet that's not too far off the turnpike? Blue Knob and Seven Springs come to mind. I'm leaning towards Seven Springs since it would be interesting to see it as an adult. I guess there's Hidden Valley too?


I also would be looking for a place on or near the mountain to rent some skinny skis for the ice I expect to encounter. (I'll bring my boots.) I'll probably buy in advance on liftopia but if there are any better deals please let me know. It'll most likely be the Friday after New Year's since I'd prefer not to ski on a weekend.


I'm pretty excited to see what it's like out there as my recollections from being a 12- and 13-year-old on middle school ski trips are pretty dim.

post #2 of 11

You could also consider Roundtop. Probably best bet is to check to see what each area has for rentals, then check conditions during the time frame you'll be there


Maybe somebody with better local knowledge will weigh in.  I have only been to Blue Knob, and I don't know how good their rentals may be (probably pretty basic, and it's waaaay out in the boonies, so no local shops that I recall seeing)

post #3 of 11
post #4 of 11

While Roundtop is a nice little area near Gettysburg, I have a feeling that area is further from the turnpike then you will want to go for a side ski trip.  I think Blue Knob and 7 Springs are your best bet and this early in the season 7 Springs will have the best conditions due to better their superior snowmaking ability.  


I normally would recommend Blue Knob over 7 Springs as I feel Blue Knob has the more interesting and challenging terrain, but they are not a good bet for early season skiing.


I'm sure 7 Springs will rent you some skinnier skis, but Laurel Hill Crazy may have some better recommendations.

post #5 of 11

I agree with Mephit Blue.  Blue Knob is a cool area but it is a pretty good haul off the turnpike to get there.  Seven Springs is the easiest to reach and will reliably have snow on the runs.  It is snowing hard outside as I type this.  The added benefit of revisiting Seven Springs after skiing there before moving west is also worth something.  It will ski smaller than you remembered, but the Foggy Goggle can make up for that.

post #6 of 11

Do Seven Springs and Hidden Valley have any lift pass specials since SS bought out HV? Though it sounds as if you won't have a full day to do that much cruisin' around anyway, even though they are close to each other. When we went to the Laurel Highlands two years ago, Seven Springs was very nice (albeit crowded, justifiably), and Hidden Valley was much less crowded (and easier slopes, it seemed?). There was an overnight ice storm while we were there, so can't comment on the usual conditions. I hadn't been to Seven Springs or Hidden Valley for over 20 years, so it was nice to go back to both and see how both had evolved - though after all of that time, there was very little I remembered, it seemed.


Hometown Pizza and More. . . . ! Call ahead and get a carry-out something to fuel up beforehand. Or chow later. Or both.


We have had a lot more snow here in northern Ohio than we have in years - Winter Wonderland today (sharing with Cirquerider). Local ski hills haven't been open this early for many years, it seems.





post #7 of 11

Though now that I note that Cirque is a Yinzer, you had best get your advice there!



post #8 of 11

If you check a map, I think you will find Roundtop is much closer to the PA turnpike than BK


Seven Springs and Liberty advertise that they have high performance ski rentals.

Edited by NJskier164 - 12/14/13 at 12:25pm
post #9 of 11

I would have to say that Seven Springs is the better choice for a day of intermediate and advanced intermediate skiing. Blue Knob has much more challenging terrain and a taller vertical but acreage wise it is smaller than 7 Springs. At 7 Springs you will find a dedicated bump run in Goosebumps on the front along with a nice set of bumps on Stowe, also on the front side. The North Face has a taller vertical with a few steepish faces. There is open tree skiing between the slopes on the front and some marked glades (also pretty open but short) on the North Face.   Seven Springs beats all for lift and snowmaking (coverage) infrastructure as well as resort amenities.Seven Springs recently purchased nearby Hidden Valley and just prior to that Hidden Valley went through a major lift, snowmaking (better quality) upgrade as well as improvements in the base facility. There is no shuttle service between the two resorts and I'm not sure if the day ticket is interchangeable.


It is an easier drive from the turnpike to Seven Springs than Blue Knob. Coming from the east you would exit At Somerset and head west to Seven Springs, about a half hour drive. Heading back to Pittsburgh you would go to the Donegal exit to get back on the Turnpike, about a 20 minute drive. The Springs is about an hour to an hour and a half from Pittsburgh and its burbs, BK is more like 2 to 3 with Roundtop being even more.


Ticket deals are hard to find for Seven Springs. Usually you will find a discount coupon with a retail purchase. In the past it was tied to a bottle of Coca-cola or a can or three of condensed soup. Those discount don't usually show up until mid-January and are only valid Monday through Thursday. I've never found Seven Springs tickets on liftopia or other discount sites. Lodging deals usually come with lift tickets.




Check out our EpicSki Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, and Blue Knob resort guides. Read our Blue Knob Unofficial Guide for more detailed information about the Knob.

post #10 of 11
Ditto what LHC posted above, short on and off turnpike access. Just want to mention that 7 Springs will be charging $75 for their lift ticket. Friday is considered a weekend day, Thank you Bob Nutting. Willis Ski Shop right at the base of the lifts should have a nice selection of demos to pick from. Hopefully the skiing will be pretty good great snowmaking but the long range thru New Years last time I looked had some rain and ice forecasted. But we deal with that all the time.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the intel everyone. I ended up skiing Seven Springs today. Wow, a completely different world from skiing in the West, for better and for worse.


I suppose I was fairly fortunate as far as conditions went? It was snowing all day and though that didn't translate to a a ton of powder, at least there were a couple inches of new snow over top of some icier stuff I scraped underneath. On the other hand, the snow felt really strange; heavy and sticky, even compared to wet Sierra snow. I can't tell how much of that had to do with my skis, which seemed like they could use some TLC despite being "high performance" rentals.


Everyone in Pittsburgh is of course freaking out about the cold, but it's really only moving in tonight, so it was 20 degrees most of the day and still a not-bad 10 degrees when I left at 2:45 aka "mid-day grooming". (A foreign concept to me!) Maybe the coldest weather in several years moving in had something to do with it being completely deserted, or maybe it was just normal for an early January Monday, but it was pretty surreal.


CR, you're right about it skiing smaller than my 12-year-old self perceived it. I remember standing atop what must have been either Avalanche or Goosebumps and being terrified. Now...not so much. Those two runs were probably the most fun; they at least had the deepest snow. Too bad that Goosebumps didn't really have bumps. I would have loved a bump run somewhere to make the short vert last a little longer.


The back side was the other spot that was fun, though all the flat bits between steeps were aggravating, especially with the skis I was on. Speaking of which, I was surprised to find out that Willi's doesn't rent skis on the mountain for whatever reason. The Seven Springs rental center is a sad place with lackluster service. $50 got me a pair of E78s, which would have been fine but it seemed like they needed a real wax and some edge work. A steep price to pay for not-so-well-maintained skis. If I ski back home next year I'll figure something else out.


Since it was Monday the lift ticket was only $58, which is fine with me. $75 (the normal price) on the other hand would be tough to swallow on a regular basis. Oh well, as a hardcore Pirates fan I'm willing to cut Bob Nutting some more slack after the 2013 season.


I'd post some photos, but between the snow, incessant guns all over the mountain, and what seemed like fog, conditions were mostly whiteout.


A nice day, but I'll be happy to go home to Tahoe, drought and all. Next time I think I'd have more fun at Blue Knob from the sounds of it.

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