With my relocation back to the Mid-Atlantic area I was concerned where I was going to find good Midwestern-style skiing on the East Coast. You know: low rise, low trail count and usually low cost molehills that I have driven for miles across the prairie to find. Luckily I was able to get my fix just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Spring Mountain offers small ski area flavor in a convenient package. Well, convenient if you happen to be in the greater Philly area.
At a towering 510 feet of elevation with a 450-foot vertical drop, Spring Mountain coaxes all it can out of a small mound located above the Perkiomen Creek near suburban Schwenksville. Boasting 8 trails off 4 lifts plus a tubing area, it is a classic, small local ski area. The kind of place we all wish we had right down the street.
I arrived mid morning just before Christmas, 2008 on the heels of a winter storm that had me driving in a wintery mix the whole way from the DC area. Unfortunately the storm had not dumped enough real snow on the hill to open more than just the front side. At Spring Mountain, the main way down on the front side was a wide open trail and serviced by a somewhat cranky double chair. The trail was really just a short slope off the lift, followed by a long gentle run out back to the lodge. Also on the front another double chair was open. This chair ended about three quarters of the way to the top. This lift accessed a few hits and jumps that the local boarders were making the most of, however coverage on this side of the hill was quite thin. In fact there were a few large bare spots. In places only the thinnest ribbons of snow kept the trail open.
One of the most interesting features of this area is the covered bridge to access the slopes. The “toll” bridge is where the staff checks your lift tickets. The rest of the area is either fenced or blocked by large pond at the base. The covered bridge makes for kind of a neat entrance and checkpoint to the slopes.
The closed backside looked like it had more promise that the low rise front. The pitches there were much steeper. The trail map listed those as black as opposed to the solidly green front side. The trails looked like much more fun. Unfortunately on this day the crews had not yet worked to open this side of the area. They had blown several large snow whales on the slopes in preparation of better things to come.
The lodge is an alpine-looking building with a large A-frame, including a restaurant that was doing a strong lunch business when I stopped by. The lodge also had a large brown bag area in front of the slopes. It was all very bare bones with lots of bare wood, but friendly and functional.
Skiing is just one of the many activities that this area promotes. There is a climbing wall in the middle of the slopes. During the summer months Spring Mountain operates a zip line canopy tour that spans the mountain. They also promote the sport of “geocatching,” a kind of game of tag played with GPS’s that span the mountain.
If I lived locally Spring Mountain would be a nice place to have up the road to get a few turns in or to drop the kids off for a few hours. But on this gray day with just two trails open, I loaded my gear back up and headed up the road for some better coverage.
Robbie Allen is an avid small hill skier. He has written several articles on the many small hills he has sought out.