PALMERTON, Pa. — It had been two years, but the combination of a teacher work day for my 8 year old and Thursday snow led me to Blue Mountain Ski Resort for the first time.
Several phone calls and social media inquiries led me to choose this mountain, because they had a spot for my son’s lesson. Other areas couldn’t commit to that on short notice.
We arrived just before 10 a.m. amidst light snow. Several inches had accumulated over night, but on account of being March and less than 24 hours away from temperatures in the 60s, it was wet and sticky. The 10 o’clock lesson didn’t occur, because the beginner “slope” wasn’t groomed. I got my son set up and he went to the noon lesson.
While he was at the noon lesson, I rode up to the top of the mountain on the high-speed 6-seater Challenger lift, the only lift operating from the bottom. I checked out ■Lazy River (via ■Tut’s Lane), an enjoyable cruiser that had decent conditions. Next up was a ride up the Main Street Chair lift, a short 2-seater more than halfway up the mountain. After a slow ride to the top, I tried ■Switchback an icier run than Lazy River. It fed into ●Shuttle and ●Home Stretch. Another trip down Lazy River and then I decided to check out ♦Challenge. Even with the sun out, the ice on Challenge hadn’t softened up yet, so it lived up to its name. Overall, a good steep cruiser, but too much work on an icy day. Knowing that my son’s lesson was coming to an end, I got one more ride on Lazy River underway.
Lunch was at the Slopeside Grill, a standard Mid-Atlantic cafeteria. Chicken tenders & fries, hot & fries, Pepsi and hot chocolate set up back $23. Like I said, standard. I skipped the Cornerstone Pub. There are other food options at the top of the mountain as well as huts that are seemingly opened on the weekends and holidays.
Resuming our day, my son and I headed over to the ●Valley School East run that is part of the ski school. My son took several rides up the magic carpet lift and showed me he had mastered the flat hill there. This is where the challenge came in. Owing to it being a weekday and a bad season overall, the lifts and runs were limited. We decided we’d try going to the top and getting down.
So, up the Challenger lift we went and began the long journey to the bottom. First down Tut’s Lane and then to ●Connector which is to flat to keep moving on without walking. Eventually, we made to ●Burma Road because it was green but perhaps should be blue. The several turns proved tricky for the 8 year old, but we got down and when we got on some straight-aways on Shuttle and Home Stretch, he held his own. Finishing Home Stretch, he declared that skiing was “the most fun ever” and we called it a day. A successful day.
What I liked
Check in was easy – PC terminals > long-hand forms.
The rental space was fully climate-controlled
Helpful, courteous staff that’s good at recovering cell phones
Scenic – Blue Mountain is literally on Blue Mountain, the first ridge of the Appalachians in eastern Pennsylvania.
THe lift ticket is a magnetized card, similar that can rest in your left pocket which controls the gates at the lift lines. The downside – no lift ticket to wear on your jacket.
What I didn’t like
Snow – it’s been a bad winter, but it appears that they didn’t make snow the night before, despite the natural snow. If the wetbulb didn’t go off, that’d be one thing, but if it did and they elected not to do so, that’s disappointing. The grooming came late.
Lifts – Only one lift from the bottom was open. Only the bottom magic carpet was open. That made it tough for a beginner to get much action in.
There are several ways to get there. I took I-95 to I-476 and followed that to the Lehigh Valley exit and took PA 309 to PA 873 and followed the signs. That route has tolls. Going via I-83 or US 15 to Harrisburg and then I-78 is another option.
Overall, on the scale of green circle to double-black diamond, I rate Blue Mountain a ●●. The most vertical drop in Pennsylvania isn’t significant enough to warrant the long trip from the D.C. area. Whitetail, Massanutten (and maybe even Blue Knob) are closer to here and get a higher recommendation. For the time involved in getting up there, I’d just as soon as go to Camelback, despite less vertical. It’s not a bad mountain mind everybody I talked to liked it but there are more extensive options not too far away.