wide trails, scenic, good snowmaking, friendly
PA's warm climate and short hills, tiny lodge
Elk is like a snack-size version of Vermont. Even though the original builders were working with the typical short, shallow PA hillsides, they did a great job of cutting wide, interesting trails through lush trees. Maybe I'm weird for thinking this is important to the skiing/snowboarding experience, but when I'm on a trail, I like to feel the silence of the woods and snow around me. If the trees between trails are too thin or young, the effect is lost. Well, Elk may not be the primordial forest, but it's still pretty darn nice. For a few moments I can get "lost" on a trail and enjoy the sights and smells of winter.
The atmosphere at Elk is very welcoming. There were helpful guides stationed near the entrance asking if we needed trail maps or directions. Everyone from the ticket salespeople, to the cafeteria staff, to the lift operators, seemed genuinely happy to be a part of our awesome snowboarding day.
The only complaint I have is that the rustic old lodge is way too small for the volume this resort sees today. By mid-day it was insanely packed inside, and getting to the lockers after the lifts close can be a challenge. But I love the retro, wood-paneled, no-frills style of the lodge, so if Elk ever expands I hope they will try to preserve that aspect.