Robert Williams (RobertW on the DCSki Message Forums) provided the following description of the Wildwood Highlands Ski Area in October, 2005:
For a short period in the early seventies, Allegheny County offered up a second ski hill within 15 miles of downtown Pittsburgh. Wildwood Highlands Ski Area joined nearby beginner area Boyce Park (still operating today) in offering skiing within 20 minutes of downtown. The small but well-appointed area located adjacent to North Park, offered a 300-foot vertical drop, double chairlift, 3 intermediate slopes, a beginner slope with its own tow, 100% snowmaking and night skiing. The area also included a comfortable and rustic day lodge that housed a restaurant and bar along with ski rental, snack bar and ski school. The runs were intermediate in nature (and far more challenging than those at Boyce Park), featuring a straight but rolling main slope, and two somewhat narrower trails on either side of the main slope/lift line. One interesting feature of the area was that as skiers reached the bottom of the hill, they had to bear right and cross a short bridge that spanned Pine Creek, which bisected the area and served as the water supply for the ground based “snow cannon” snowmaking system. Skiers then boarded the double chair, which crossed back over Pine Creek before ascending the ski hill.
The area was a boon to high school students like myself who could eat dinner, jump in the car and be skiing Seven Springs-like terrain including moguls in 30 minutes for the price of a $5 midweek night ticket. Plenty of families visited the area on weekends and the area seemed to thrive. The area made plenty of snow and even owned and operated a small grooming snow cat.
During its third year of operation, amid rumors of financial trouble, the lodge suffered a devastating fire that completely destroyed the building and rental ski inventory. The area completed the ski season, with a temporary day lodge located in the adjacent racquet club and rental skis loaned from Boyce Park. Wildwood Highlands never reopened after that season. For several years friends and myself visited the area after big storms, accessing it through a back road in North Park and using our cars to shuttle to the top. We discontinued these trips in subsequent years due to the deterioration of the bridge, growth on the slopes and several stern warnings by the police.
The area sat abandoned until the late nineties when it was purchased and developed as a Family Fun Center that includes miniature golf, driving range on the old beginner slope, game room and kart track. The chairlift was sold on EBay and several years ago, the thriving area opened a snow tubing operation on the lower section of the former ski slopes (http://www.wildwoodpa.com/snowtubingbig.htm).
(Note: This was based on my memory of things that took place 30 years ago. I have made several attempts to contact the current owners concerning any information they could give me on the old ski area but so far they have not returned my calls or messages. If anyone else has memories of this area or has solid information on the area, please let me know. I plan to visit the site sometime this fall to see if there are any remnants.)
Skied there one time in the mid 70's. Went with a freind who was just learning. I remember laughing at him as he flailed around on the slopes. It took me about 30 minutes or so to get there from where I lived, and only about 75 minutes to get to Seven Springs. Seven Springs would always win out for a good day of skiing so my one day there just became a curiosity.
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