Great trails, Good Vibe, North-facing (good snow)
Older lifts, no warming hut or summit lodge
A quick disclaimer: I typically get to the mountain as early as possible to be first at the lift and of course everything runs way smoother when you're there early and it's not crowded. This visit, I got there just before 8:00am. It was a race day, but I was able to park right next to the slopes. They have a little shuttle that was a quick 60 second ride up to the main lodge. I'm not sure if it's necessary but, it pulled up when we were ready so we jumped on.
After finishing our day, we were able to ski to our car. we finished the run, and walked about 50 ft. to our car. easy in, easy out. No long walks in ski boots.
I could see how this mountain would be way different at night since half of the mountain is shut down at 4:30. And like all skiers I would love to see lift ticket prices come down. But Elk had a lot of options and rewarded early birds and night skiers with a good discount.
-- PEOPLE --
From what I could tell, most of the people at Elk were really good skiers. There were hardly any crazed kids yelling and screaming down the mountain or packs of beginners lying on the backs on the slopes. The kids I did see were learning, or tearing it up on the blacks. Everyone was very friendly -- very different from the Poconos or Catskills that are overstuffed and have more of a tourist vibe.
-- LIFTS --
The lifts are old but, they run them fairly fast compared to other mountains that have the same aged lifts. On the far right side of the mountain, they have a double and a quad right next to each other, so if you're a couple it's real fast and easy to get up the mountain because you don't have to jockey and match up with other skiers to fill a quad. Also, I have to say that everyone is very friendly around the lifts, and it runs smoothly. It was 11:30am on a Saturday and I was able to get up and down in about 10 minutes. The lifts on the left side of the mountain looked more crowded.
-- TRAILS --
There's lots of terrain on this mountain for every level of skier. But I think intermediate level and up skiers will enjoy this place the most. They have a really long mogul run with some well placed snowmakers that put down a fresh cover of snow. Most of the mountain is black and they are all over the place... My last run of the day, was excellent.. still plenty of snow and I was able to let loose and not worry about long ice patches.
-- LODGE --
This is an old school lodge... I like it because it reminded me of growing up. It's an old A-Frame inspired lodge with wood inside and long picnic-style tables. Some people may not think it's fancy enough but, for those of us who are there to ski, it works just fine. And a lot of people brought coolers and kept it right out in the open, no big deal. I bought a vitamin water, a Dasani and a Reces Cup and it was $5. That's about what I would pay at my local Rite Aid. Prices seemed pretty reasonable to me. They had a little cafeteria with breakfast sandwiches for like $3 and chili and others. Not that crazy. I can't vouche for the nightlife... but they did have a big bar that said "COCKTAIL LOUNGE" that has a fireplace looks like it would do the trick. The right side of the mountain is isolated from the rest of the mountain, so it would be good if there was a warming hut over there -- just to get warm and use the bathroom, grab a water... but it's not really necessary.
I would recommend Elk and I plan on going back for more. It's a good, skier-orientated mountain. Probably as good as it gets in PA.