uncrowed, relatively inexpensive, decent snowmaking
snow quality, access, overall service
Alpine Mountain is a sleeper Pocono resort that probably deserves better business but is in need of some major investment. It's one of the finest ski experiences for beginners you could find. The area has a vast and mellow learning slope right next to the lodge, but this area is in real need of a conveyor lift (or tow). The beginner chairlift is very short and serves a learning hill that has some bite to it at one point, but is wide and flattens out nicely before the base (not to say many beginners don't end up in the parking lot [fence needed]). Two fixed-grip quads run bottom to top serving the main body of ski trails (one is an old center pole design uncommon in eastern PA). Typically only one is running at a time. The beginner route from the summit is one of the best beginner trails around. Called "Alpine Way", it is a super wide trail running straight down the mountain with no sketchy curves. The very top has a short and semi-steep drop, but is wide and mellows out smoothly. The blues are confidence builders for beginners, mellow and winding. I recommend "Outer Edge", left side or skier's right of the liftlines next to "Alpine Way". Some of the homes along the one blue trail, "Far Out" are a real eye-sore. Bring your camera if you want some "you could be a redneck" material, and watch out for small children playing in the snow on the trail or large plastic toys protruding from the snow. The place is not well suited for advanced skiers, but if one finds themselves here, the lower headwall is actually great fun (especially if the steep snowmaking mounds are built up). The one lower quad liftline has a steep pitch for about four or five tight turns). The snowmaking is actually pretty efficient. It doesn't take long to get this place to 100% open, but the area seems lax in getting the outer most trails open early. Snow quality can be lacking with "death cookies" littering the trails, but the grooming is determined and due to being uncrowded, cords can last awhile. The terrain park (most years) is actually not bad. Sometimes jammed with features and a long halfpipe to boot. The place claims 500' vertical, but looking at a USGS topographic map would suggest not even 400'. It claims a bunch of trails, but a more realistic tally would be 13-16 trails. The tubing hill is steep and mostly uncrowded. Perhaps things have changed around there, but I personnally would not leave my children unattended anywhere (except in ski school). Only because the employees can sometimes lack the initiative to look out for small children like you might find at larger, more expensive resort (and I've seen some incredible antics from tubing and lift attendants). Fortunately, all can be overseen from the outdoor deck on the base lodge. You might want to call ahead to see if they even still serve alcohol (it's that kind of place), but if they still do the bar is actually very nice. I also recommend the Wayside Saloon down the road. Very spacious and a cool scene in my opinion (pool tables, and I think ping pong). LOCAL TIP: This place can rock on a powder day! Mostly for being so uncrowded. Get to the top, turn right and find "Rocket", leading straight down to "The Bumps" which is the main headwall above the base. Work the various routes above the main headwall for their pow until the headwall loses it's best snow (if it ever does!). Then I usually head to "Powerline" on the far left edge/skier's right. Rated diamond, it only has a little, semi-steep drop at the top, but to skier"s right at the very top of this trail is a short chute following a powerline back onto the trail that is cute enough. There are some tree skiing shots (out-of-bounds) on skiers right after this chute. You might be able to find some good snow a day or two after the storm at Alpine.