PENNSYLVANIA’S HISTORIC LAUREL MOUNTAIN SET TO REOPEN AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE
December 16, 2016
LIGONIER, Pa. – Pennsylvania’s legendary Laurel Mountain will officially reopen for skiing and snowboarding on Wednesday, December 21. Seven Springs Mountain Resort, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, has completed an extensive multi-year renovation project to upgrade the facility for the 2016-2017 season.
“We couldn’t be more proud to bring some of the most challenging terrain in the commonwealth back to the region’s skiers and snowboarders,” said Bob Nutting, chairman of Seven Springs and Hidden Valley and operator of Laurel Mountain. “Laurel Mountain’s historic reopening holds a deep meaning to me and is the result of an immense amount of passion for snowsports in the Laurel Highlands.”
Once known as the Ski Capital of Pennsylvania, Laurel Mountain is a true skier’s mountain with a rich history, located within Laurel Mountain State Park and boasting the highest vertical drop on the Laurel Ridge at 761 feet, and one of the steepest slopes in Pennsylvania, Lower Wildcat.
Laurel Mountain has received a complete facelift, both on the slopes and inside the lodge. A modern SkyTrac fixed-grip quad chairlift was installed this summer, capable of transporting 2,400 skiers per hour. The snowmaking system was also overhauled, with the addition of 52 new snowguns installed and the water storage capacity nearly doubled to 26 million gallons. Many improvements were made to the slopes themselves, including widening Innsbruck, Upper Wildcat and Upper Broadway, regrading Ski Top, and widening and regrading Deer Path.
Laurel Lodge, the summit lodge at Laurel Mountain, underwent a complete transformation this fall. Guests walking into the lodge will be greeted by an expansive heated concrete terrace and staircase, with the outdoor fireplace once again lit for skiers to warm up and enjoy the scenery. The interior of the lodge has been completely upgraded, with new furniture and carpeting, culminating into a rustic yet upscale feel.
The Laurel House Café on the upper level offers a variety of food and drinks and a stunning view of the valley below. Guests can also visit the Rental Center featuring a brand new fleet of Rossignol and Burton equipment, the retail shop with a variety of official Laurel Mountain goods and apparel, the skier services center, and the snowsports school.
The lower level of the lodge features the brand new Wildcat Lounge, offering crafted cocktails and libations, Wildcat Chili, hearty signature sandwiches and more.
The project is expected to provide a boost in tourism to the region as Laurel Mountain joins its sister resorts, Seven Springs and Hidden Valley, to create a three-mountain snowsports destination in the Laurel Highlands, located within 200 miles of several major metro areas including Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Cleveland and Columbus. Laurel Mountain is located just 15 minutes from historic Ligonier, PA, a charming mountain town filled with specialty shops, family activities and historic sites.
“Combining three outdoor destinations will draw even more visitors and thus more jobs and economic activity to the region,” said Eric Mauck, CEO of Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain. “Laurel Mountain is truly an asset to Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.”
The slopes will officially open to the public at 12 p.m. on Wednesday and will remain open for night skiing until 9 p.m. After opening day, the slopes at Laurel Mountain will be open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday, Dec. 22-23; 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 24; 12 p.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 25.
The slopes will assume regular winter season hours following Christmas Day: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sunday-Wednesday; 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Thursday – Saturday.
Season Passes for Laurel Mountain are available both online and at the Laurel Lodge skier services center at $450 for an adult individual pass. Laurel Mountain also offers the Wildcat Five-Pack, featuring five ski and snowboard tickets at $219 for adults, a savings of $70, and $179 for children, a savings of $65.
THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF LAUREL MOUNTAIN, IN BRIEF
Laurel Mountain originally opened in 1939 as a private club for Pennsylvania’s elite. The slopes were designed by European skiing legend Johann “Hannes” Schneider, the renowned Austrian ski guide and inventor of the Arlberg Method, the basis of modern alpine ski technique.
After a quiet period during WWII, the resort was opened to the general public. Several new trails were opened. A local columnist recounted a tale told by an early ski shop employee of an engineer from Maryland by the name of Howard Head. He tested his prototypes for an aluminum ski on Laurel’s slopes, leading to the creation of the first metal ski in 1949. Head’s ski revolutionized not only ski design and ski manufacturing but also the very way people skied.
In 1956, Laurel Mountain was among the first ski resorts to install large scale snowmaking. Commercial snowmaking was first demonstrated on Mohawk Mountain, CT, in 1949-50 and put to greater use the following winter. In 1952, the first large commercial system was operational at Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel, another Schneider-designed slope. Laurel Mountain’s new installation bested those early “snow making machines” by covering four slopes over a 285-foot vertical drop.
In 1963, R.K. Mellon and his sister Sarah Scaife gifted the ski area to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, thus becoming Laurel Mountain State Park. The resort remained open until 1989, when aging infrastructure and local competition led to the decision to end operations. Through the following years, several attempts were made to reopen the resort to no lasting avail.
Today, after extensive renovation efforts by Seven Springs Mountain Resort and the Pennsylvania DCNR, Laurel Mountain’s rich history will be brought back to life once again, this time with the strength of its neighboring sister resorts behind it, for Mid-Atlantic skiers and snowboarders to experience the mountain that inspired so many to fall in love with the snow.
About Laurel Mountain
Nestled within Laurel Mountain State Park, Laurel Mountain is an iconic skiers’ mountain with a distinct character and rich history. The mountain boasts the highest vertical drop on the Laurel Ridge at 761 feet, and is famous for its Lower Wildcat Slope, one of the steepest in Pennsylvania.
Laurel Mountain is located in Ligonier, PA, just 72 miles east of Pittsburgh. For more information, visit laurelmountainski.com or call (888) 547-3388.