Known as a skiing hub, Seven Springs Mountain Resort has much to offer all visitors, even those who don’t want to hit the slopes.
Skiers both avid and ambivalent can find plenty of winter entertainment about an hour’s drive from Morgantown at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, located in Pennsylvania’s scenic Laurel Highlands, the tallest mountain range in the state. The resort first opened to skiers in 1935, but it has changed tremendously since then, expanding to entice visitors year-round.
If you love downhill skiing, the resort delivers, with 33 slopes and trails ranging from beginner to advanced. While its highest elevation, at 2,994 feet, is modest compared to Western ski resorts, its proximity to cities such as Morgantown, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., is appealing to travelers looking for an easy driving trip.
The resort has long had year-round activities. A summer wine festival has taken place there for more than 20 years, and an autumn festival has run even longer. But it has continued to fill its calendar, says Communications Manager Katie Buchan—who herself spent many childhood days skiing Seven Springs with her family and still enjoys a lunch-hour ski—including new activities for those who love winter, but maybe not the skiing part.
The snow tubing park, available for children 4 years old through adults, offers a fun take on sledding. The Alpine Slide is a bit more thrilling, offering a fast sled ride down a concrete luge. Visitors can take off on a snowshoe hike through snowy trails or test their shooting skills at the sporting clays range. Often described as “golf with a shotgun,” the sport challenges shooters at Seven Springs with three paved courses and a super sporting course. Lessons also are offered.
Indoor activities include swimming, bowling, and a game room. And if you’d rather just relax, the resort’s Trillium Spa provides massages, facials, body treatments, and more.
Seven Springs works hard to cater to families in December, a busy season that this year includes “Holidays in the Highlands.” The magical Holiday Village is open from November 23 through December 23, Fridays from 5-9 p.m. and Saturdays from 4-9 p.m and features a Holiday Village and Springs Town Square where guests can explore a craft show with work by more than 30 regional artists as well as seasonal foods.
The wooded landscape of the resort will be illuminated with more than a million lights. Guests can take a nighttime drive through the 4-mile display or hop on one of the horse-drawn wagon rides. “We have the Santa Express, which is a 43-foot-long holiday train,” Buchan says. “It is trackless and children and adults can ride it through the holiday village.” Santa will be on hand for photos, of course. “We’re going to have a snowball swim every weekend, too.” The resort’s indoor pool will be filled with inflatable snowmen, penguins, and “snowballs” that encourage tossing.
The resort always hopes to launch its ski season the day after Thanksgiving, weather permitting. “We open as soon as we can,” Buchan says. “We need five to seven days of snowmaking conditions so we can lay down a lot of snow—we need 28 degrees or lower with low humidity.”
Seven Springs’ slopes offer something for skiers of all levels. A fast left on the North Face Slope—a 3,200-foot run with a 662-foot vertical drop—is a challenge Morgantown physical therapist Marianna Grudziak still relishes. A former member of the Pennsylvania State University ski team who grew up in Pittsburgh, she says the resort still draws skiers the way it drew her family when she was growing up.
High praise for Seven Springs’ terrain parks comes from Jesse Dreyer, a former WVU ski team member from Charleston who now works as a ski patroller at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. “They have amazing terrain parks, which is a huge draw for that crowd,” he says of the specialized area that offers advanced skiers and snowboarders ramps and jumps to test their skills. “They have a huge Olympic half-pipe and large tabletop jumps when there is enough snow. When there isn’t, they still have some amazing street-style features as well.”
While Seven Springs is a fine day trip from Morgantown, options for overnight accommodations include not only the main hotel lodge, but also condominiums, chalets, and cottages.
Helen’s Restaurant, the resort’s fine dining option, is one of Grudziak’s favorites. On the more casual side, Foggy Brews offers craft beers and hearty bar fare such as poutine, fried pickles, and bison burgers. “It has a great atmosphere and it’s also a good place to hang outside when it’s warm on the deck,” she says.
Visitors who stay for a few days can find several attractions nearby as well, Buchan points out. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, designed in 1935 and now on the National Register of Historic Places, is a short drive away, as are two other homes he designed, Kentuck Knob and Duncan House. The nearby Flight 93 National Memorial is a sobering reminder of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
And Ohiopyle State Park offers year-round hiking and, in the summer, white-water rafting. Speaking of summer, Buchan says the resort increasingly draws warm-weather visitors attracted to activities such as ziplining, mountain biking, rock climbing, and even a summer version of snow tubing. “It’s actually located on top of the snow tubing park,” she says. “It has a slick track—you can take the same tube you would use in the winter and slide down the tracks.” 7springs.com
written by Monica Orosz