Excellent Instructors; Friendly Staff; Easy Terrain
Lack of Advanced Terrain; No Bumps; Crowded Bar
Ski-Big Bear at Masthope Mountain is one of the lesser known Pocono resorts. Located far from the I-80 corridor that is home to several of the more well-known resorts, getting to Big Bear takes some effort, but is usually worth the drive. With 650 feet of vertical drop, it is tied for #8 in Pennsylvania, offering more hill than some of the more well-known resorts in eastern PA. Additionally, its family-friendly atmosphere and layout make it easy and enjoyable for parents to ski and ride with their kids, or simply watch them progress in the beginner area.
The majority of the staff members are friendly locals who return season after season. The lift attendants will greet you when you board the chairlift, the instructors make learning fun and interesting, and the people who work behind the scenes handle most issues before they even arise.
The downside to Big Bear is that the terrain is not very challenging for an advanced skier or rider. There are four black diamond slopes, the two steepest of which are not lit for night skiing, so experts who venture here after dark will probably be let down by the lack of available terrain. Additionally, bumps are scarce.
On the plus side, Big Bear has two magic carpets lifts to serve the beginner area, which can be crowded on busy weekends. It is an upside-down resort with the lodge and easier terrain at the top, so another double-chairlift starts just below the beginner area and also serves the same terrain making it very easy for learners to get back to the top and get more runs. A second double-chairlift serves the mid-mountain area and is favored by those using the terrain park and advanced runs. This lift can be crowded at times but one can ski a bit further to the twin double-chairlifts at the very bottom and opt to ride all the way back to the top. The twin-double lift was added for the 2009-10 season to alleviate the congestion at the bottom of the mountain. Older reviews mention the crowded bottom lift, and this new improvement seems to have cut down some of the wait time.
Big Bear has enough terrain to keep novice and intermediate skiers well occupied. There are over two dozen trail combinations from the top to the bottom and connectors and side trails boost that count a bit higher. Unfortunately, due to the confines of its location, expanding the amount of trails is not something that is likely going to occur. Big Bear is located in a private community and homes line the ski boundary on both sides. Instead, Big Bear will most likely focus on the terrain park and improving the amenities. Since 2005 they have built a new ski lodge, added two magic carpets, installed the twin-double chairlift, and radically expanded the snowmaking capabilities.
Ski-Big Bear is open Wednesdays and Thursdays: Noon-9pm; Fidays and Saturdays: 9am-9pm; Sundays and Mondays: 9am-4:30pm and is closed on Tuesdays. Holiday hours vary as well. The best times to ski Big Bear are during the day on Mondays and Fridays. On those days you can maximize daylight skiing opportunities and still avoid the weekend rush.