Lodge, Resort, Close to home
High Prices, No foot rest on Lifts
My first visit to Bear Creek was on 2.14.09. When we arrived, the lower parking lot was full. At first, I thought we had to walk to the lodge with all our gear. The Bear Creek website did not mention anything about a shuttle, so I was surprised when I saw one pass by. The wait for a shuttle is pretty short. It came by several times while we were getting our stuff ready. Since it was a holiday weekend, I expected the mountain to be extremely packed but it wasn't. There was no wait at the lifts whatsoever.
The mountain itself is nothing to be awed by. It's a small mountain. But, it does make up for some of that with its amenities and services.
Half of our group signed up for a Freestyle Coaching lesson. I had not seen a course like this offered at other resorts in the area. The instructors were very friendly and hands-on and gave us individual attention. At one point a group of other instructors joined our group, so we had a lot of input and tips. It was very reasonably priced and it felt like a bargain especially with all the attention we got.
The price of the actual lift ticket was pretty expensive for the type of mountain it is. We had to buy a lift ticket with our lesson even though we hardly spent any time on the lift (We probably used the lift twice during the lesson). There should be a special lift ticket price when purchasing a lesson.
I was impressed by the snowboard and ski storage racks. I have not seen this at other resorts. Instead of rows of vertical racks, it was a long row of open-ended cubbies. It was much more organized than vertical racks, which end up having skis and snowboards falling all over the place. I don't know why more resorts don't use this. They also had a complimentary ski/snowboard check as well.
The lodge was very impressive. It's the nicest one I've been to in PA. It was extremely clean and well decorated. There were two huge double-sided fireplaces. There was a good assortment of food, but the prices were a little high. My husband and I had popcorn chicken with fries, cheeseburger, fries and two drinks and it came out to almost $24. The popcorn chicken was okay but on the salty side. My husband said the burger tasted like something from 7-11. Our friends said the nachos were very good though. The lodge had an abundance of lockers and cubby holes. They also had a basket check. There is a small game room. WiFi is available at the lodge. There is an designated area called Bears Den where people can bring their own food. This is nice because I've been to resorts where people set up their coolers and thermoses on cafeteria tables and it gets annoying.
The weather earlier in the week had been unseasonably warm, so I was not expecting great conditions. The snow was soft and granular. You can see a lot of brown, crusty ice patches all over the place. I did not ride on any black diamonds because of this. It did start snowing in the afternoon and added some new snow to the mountain. The Blue, Black Bear to Kodiak trail was a good run. Broadway might be good for skiiers, but there are too many flat areas for snowboarders. If you are a snowboarder and plan to ride this trail, make sure you keep your speed up in order to get past these flat spots. The Kodiak black diamond was so steep, it should really be classified as a double black. With a mountain this small and trails so short, I don't think an advanced skiier/snowboarder would enjoy this mountain. The bunny slope had a carpet lift which is great for beginners who are not comfortable riding a lift yet. This is also a great place for snowboarders to learn.
The terrain parks were very impressive. There were a lot of large jumps and rails as well as a staircase. I liked that there was a designated beginner terrain park area.
The resort has a hotel right on the mountain and looking at their packages on their website, I will definitely come back again and take advantage of the prices. I also want to make use of their hot tubs which is such a treat after a day on the slopes. For a non-skier/snowboarder, there is a Spa at the resort where you can pamper yourself.
My biggest gripe with Bear Creek is that none of the chair lifts I rode on had foot rests! I'm not sure how important this is for skiers, but as a snowboarder, the weight of a snowboard hanging off my foot is extremely tiring and my foot would be numb by the time I got to the top of the lift.
All in all, I really enjoyed my visit there and will definitely come again.