Featured Image Photo Credit: Seven Springs Mountain Resort
The idea of being trapped on a large cruise ship may not be appealing to someone looking for a vacation. I totally get it. You want a little leeway to come and go as you please. However, anyone who has been on a cruise can certainly vouch for the wide variety of activities that this type of vacation affords. From go-carts, to water slides, to scavenger hunts and more, a cruise vacation has a little bit of something for everyone. It is this very idea that defines Seven Springs Mountain Resort and has earned them the nickname of a “Cruise Ship in the Mountains.”
Seven Springs Mountain Resort has always been a popular ski destination given its close proximity to major metro markets including Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Washington DC. Now on the Epic Pass, having been purchased late last winter by Vail Resorts, there is a good possibility that their appeal will expand beyond their region. It did for me as I recently ventured out from my home base in NJ and took the opportunity to explore the resort that consistently ranks as one of the top ski resorts in the east. Turns out, Pennsylvania’s largest ski resort gets a solid amount of annual snow and there is simply so much there to do at any one time making it well worth a destination visit.
Pennsylvania’s Largest Ski Resort Has Much to Offer
Yes, Seven Springs Mountain Resort is Pennsylvania’s largest ski resort. 33 slopes and trails serviced by 10 lifts highlight this unique layout that has sort of a western ski resort look to it. The front part of the mountain was actually originally designed with this in mind, wanting to give skiers and snowboarders the feel of riding in an open bowl-type setting.
Head over toward the north face and the trails are a bit more defined. There you will find a decent amount of expert terrain and trails that are surprisingly longer than the 750′ of vertical that Seven Springs offers would suggest. This is ultimately a nice feeling as you can still rack up laps but they are a little longer than other mountains with a similar vertical sometimes offer.
Amidst their vast terrain, Seven Springs also boasts seven terrain parks and, in good snow years, an olympic sized superpipe (one of two on the East Coast). They also happen to have one of, if not the highest, average snowfall totals (150″) in the state of Pennsylvania.
Thanks Great Lakes!
In lean years, such as this one, their snowmaking keeps them afloat and is one of the most powerful systems in the East, if not the country. With 976 snow towers plus some portable fan guns the resort has the ability to pump out an inordinate amount of snow in a short period of time. I was truly impressed at the time of my visit in early February at how much of the mountain they had open (95%) and with surprisingly good conditions despite such little snow fall.
All of this considered, Seven Springs offers an excellent on-hill experience for all skiers and riders who visit. However, it is what goes on beyond the skiing that makes Seven Springs Mountain Resort special.
Après Ski Begins with The Foggy Goggle
With all of their terrain, snow (both natural and man made) plus the ability to night ski, you can certainly stay out on the mountain for prolonged periods of time. However, when you ski day comes to an end, Seven Springs Mountain Resort offers a little something for everyone.The highlight of après ski at Seven Springs is their legendary bar, The Foggy Goggle. The Foggy Goggle bar is consistently ranked as one of the best après ski bars in the country, and with good reason. While there, I saw the line to get into The Foggy Goggle gathering on that Saturday a good 20 minutes prior to their opening at 11 am. But do not let this deter you. If you can’t get in early you can certainly stay late. The Foggy Goggle remains open until 2 am, so bring your all day party shoes.
Once inside, you realize quickly that The Foggy Goggle can get pretty packed. However, one nice thing about this is that it never really feels that jammed up. The place is massive and can easily accommodate large crowds especially when you include the expansive deck that overlooks the mountain. What’s more is that with four bars within the space, plus the table service they provide an excellent overall experience where you will not have to wait long for your food and drink.
The real highlight of The Foggy Goggle is the live music (a DJ or band) and the accompanying dance floor. Located in the center of the entire bar this area tends to be the most crowded and the center of attention. There you’ll see plenty of dancing particularly in the evening hours when the party can really get going. As previously mentioned The Foggy Goggle is open until 2 am, so you may want to go back to your room, switch out of those ski boots and come back for quite a show.
Other Exciting Activities at Seven Springs Mountain Resort
The Foggy Goggle definitely offers the most traditional, party-like atmosphere that après ski is known for. However, there is more to life après ski than shotskis and dancing and Seven Springs has plenty of it to offer as well.
Not only is The Foggy Goggle a legendary bar but it also houses The Foggy Goggle Axe House. Yes, you can throw axes inside the après ski bar. You may think that this form of entertainment combined with tired legs and alcohol consumption is a bad idea but rest assured, it’s not. The eight lanes of the axe house is situated away from the crowds in it’s own area of the bar. Furthermore, axe throwing is fun, competitive and an excellent way to wind down after a day on the mountain.
If you’re looking to be competitive but throwing sharp metal objects at a target isn’t your thing you can give bowling a try. Seven Springs Mountain resort actually has a bowling alley on site too. Located in the Main Lodge right next to the Seven Ten Bistro it’s a fun way to stay active with family and friends while enjoying a bite and a beer at this really cool bar.
Beyond bowling and axe throwing, there are a few other competitive indoor activities available to keep you moving. Swimming, mini golf, roller skating and the game room highlight what are plenty of active options for all.
If by chance you want to stay outside a little longer, the snow tubing at Seven Springs is pretty sick! Located across the parking lot, it is its own separate entity and one of the best and most organized snow tubing setups you’re going find. The lines move quite quickly and so do the snow tubes which send you flying at high speeds down your lane.
A Food and Beverage Scene for All
With all of the activities to partake in you will certainly work up an appetite. I found that Seven Springs Mountain Resort has as much to offer in the dining category as they did in the previous two.
The food at The Foggy Goggle was quite good especially considering the amount of people they are serving at any given time. If you have a big group, definitely give the whole order of nachos a try. This manhole sized portion is a show stopper.
The Bavarian Lounge is also a cool spot with really good food. I came to find out that this was actually the original bar at the resort. The Bavarian has since been revamped to have a rustic mountain lounge like atmosphere. It also offers excellent views of the mountain which paired really well with the pork wings, our burger and beer.
The aforementioned Seven Ten Bistro is another great option. Located adjacent to the bowling alley it’s definitely the nicest bowling alley bar that I’ve been in.
Speaking of fancy, there is also Helen’s, Seven Springs’ fine dining establishment. If it’s just you and your significant other or perhaps another couple or two, definitely make reservations to eat at Helen’s. Aside from their award winning wine list and excellent food, the ambiance is unrivaled. Marked by a dining room that is set in the original homestead of the Dupre family that first lived on the property, you’ll find this dining experience as unique as they come.
Once you’ve digested all that Seven Springs Mountain Resort has to offer, you’ll certainly want to do it all again the next day, and you can. When you wake up I suggest first getting yourself a Bloody Mary from their build your own Bloody Mary Mountain Cocktail bar in the main lodge. There you will find a plethora of toppings to turn your favorite hangover elixir into an actual breakfast. It’s sure to have you up and running and back on the mountain earning your après for another visit to The Foggy Goggle or whatever else the Cruise Ship in the Mountain has in store for you that day.
Rich Stoner is the founder of the après-ski lifestyle clothing and media brand, All About Après, and the co-host of the Beyond the Après podcast. No stranger to the ski and après-ski scene, Rich has been a long time contributor for many publications on topics like skiing, gear, beer and food. However, his passion is on the slopes and enjoying good times with good people. You can find him perfecting his craft carving turns and drinking beers in the Green Mountains of Vermont. @allaboutapres