By Aiden McLean ‘21, Guest Contributor 11-23-18
With winter here, it’s all too easy to remain indoors, curled up in a blanket and binge-watch Netflix. While the frigid weather certainly prevents us from visiting the beach or taking a dip in the pool, it actually allows us to participate in an array of outdoor activities only possible in the winter. Skiing and snowboarding are some of the most popular winter sports. My family has been going skiing regularly every winter for the past four years. In Dec. of 2015, my dad took us to Colorado, and we skied in Breckenridge, one of the best ski resorts in the country. After that, we had developed a taste the sport and wanted more. We can’t afford to go to Breckenridge every winter, so we decided that each year we would rent skis from a local shop and hit the slopes here in our own state. However, there are many mountains to choose from in Pennsylvania, all with different varieties of slopes, courses, and skiers. In this article, I’ll review our favorite slope, Elk Mountain, and explain what makes it unique.
One of the reasons our family fell in love with Elk Mountain is because it accommodates all of our needs and desires in a way that other local mountains don’t. For example, Bear Mountain has very few slopes from which to choose. The price for a season pass at Blue Mountain ($599) is just ridiculous! We heard from some friends that Camelback wasn’t necessarily the best choice. This reduced the list down to one: Elk Mountain.
Elk mountain reminds me so much of Breckenridge, admittedly on a much smaller scale. This place is the best spot to go for both experienced daredevils and newer people just trying out skiing. There is a large bunny slope and great classes to choose from. The only green slope, “Tioga,” is an easy trail to perform, yet still fun for more experienced skiers. For intermediate skiers and snowboarders, a variety of blue trails are available. All are fun to go down. Some are winding, some have spots good for jumps, and a few have areas for tree skiing. For the more experienced people like myself, the black trails are awesome. Mogoles, steep drops, extreme speeds, tree skiing, whatever you love about a black diamond, Elk has it (except for vertical drops and cliffs). For those even more extreme skiers, there are two challenge courses to try. Each trail and slope is different and offers different challenges.
The trails at Elk are groomed daily and kept in exquisite condition. There are medical and ski support staff all over the place, ready to aid any mishap within minutes. The staff is always ready to help. The lodge at the bottom of the mountain has some decent food, candy, and hot chocolate, perfect after a long day of skiing. It even comes with its own separate restaurant with better food. Additionally, there are many restaurants just a twenty-minute drive away from the lodge. For the parents and adults in your group, there is a bar and beer garden with beer and drinks, as a reward for a hard day’s work.
There are only three problems with Elk. Firstly, it is a two-hour drive from Philadelphia. Secondly, there just aren’t enough areas to tree ski, and lastly, the time it takes the lift to get you to the top can feel like an eternity. However, Elk’s amazing slopes make up for all of these shortcomings. Whatever level skier or snowboarder you are, Elk can provide.
Despite the long drive, it is still possible to have just a day ski, if your group has a well laid-out plan of leaving home early and leaving Elk a little bit early as well. From 5-10pm, Elk has a few slopes available for night skiing! If you are looking for a mountain that is virtually guaranteed to satisfy you, Elk Mountain is the one.