SEVEN SPRINGS, Pa. — With its 33 slopes and trails, the only Olympic-size half-pipe in the eastern U.S., seven terrain parks and 10 lifts to get you on the mountain, Seven Springs looks exciting and contemporary — not like the granddaddy of eastern ski resorts that it is. Only skiing history buffs would know that world skiing history was made here.
The Dupre family began Seven Springs on 2.5 acres in southern Pennsylvania in 1932 and built it into a 5,000-acre empire over more than seven decades, adding slopes, buildings and activities. It all started when a famed Antarctic explorer stumbled on their cabin and proclaimed it the “snowiest place in the area.” Skiing was introduced.
Eventually they used their resort to revolutionize skiing all over the world. Today, more than 600 ski resorts have extended seasons and desirable snow cover because Herman Dupre, one of the family’s sons, invented and patented the HKD Millennium Snowmaking Gun that is now used worldwide. Decades earlier, father Adolph installed the nation’s second mechanical rope tow, powered by a Packard automobile engine.
Neither my husband, Jack, nor I are skiers, snowboarders or even tubers. We watched a lot of slope activity both from our room’s balcony and from well-positioned windows throughout the various resort buildings. Most of our exercise during our visit came from walking from restaurant to restaurant.
Skiers build up prodigious appetites, and there are several venues at Seven Springs to satisfy them.
Foggy Goggle claims to be the best ski bar in the East, with an outside patio for heavily dressed skiers and four interior bars that are jammed with as many as 700 people on weekends. A specialty restaurant inside the giant bar area, Foggy Brews, specializes in craft beers and unique menu items, like bison burgers, shrimp mac and cheese and pheasant pot pie.
We enjoyed both a buffet breakfast and tasty lunch at Slopeside, seated on overstuffed, high-backed chairs in front of large windows, where we watched skiers and snowboarders zip by. Impressive construction included giant tree trunk support beams and two-foot diameter joists, all wood taken from the resort’s land. Sandstone is another ubiquitous building material, since the land is remarkably rocky and all the stone cleared had to go somewhere.
The most memorable dining experience also highlighted the history of the resort. With a cornerstone dated 1933, Helen’s is the original farmhouse built by the Dupres and is set along one of the seven major springs. Bedrooms and the kids’ loft area are now dining alcoves.
A newer addition was designed by Herman to allow every seat a window view. The space is intimate — only 26 tables — so dining there is a rare treat, especially for their famed wine dinners, which sell out in an hour. The whole house is wormy chestnut. There’s an original chandelier, and the innovative stone sink created to capture the flowing spring make a tour of the house a necessity.
Fortunately, the food lives up to the decor. The complimentary appetizer for the evening was a trout ball with onion jelly, the trout pulled from the stream outside. The veal came with house-made noodles, and my scallops were cooked to perfection and topped with an excellent fennel cream sauce.
Best of all, when they brought the dessert tray, they left it so we could indulge in all the offerings from the resort’s own pastry chef.
Resort hot tubs offering an outdoor exposure and view are available by reservation and cost a fee. The indoor pool is free to guests. There is a wide selection of lodging/ski/dining packages from which to choose, priced for both weekends and weekdays.
Seven Springs is a popular convention location. It has a pet-friendly wing that fills up quickly, so reservations are encouraged. Service throughout the resort is notably attentive, as one might expect with up to 1,600 employees in winter and 1,200 in summer.
A four-season resort, Seven Springs has plenty of nonskiing fun, including a downhill mountain park, golf, horseback riding, hiking and sporting clays. Special events are popular in summertime, especially the weekend, when Mother Earth News brings more than 10,000 people for three days of sustainable activities.
The connection with sustainable living is a long-held Seven Springs tradition. Most of the food has always been locally sourced. Today, anyone who declines room cleaning during their stay will receive a $5 in-house gift certificate.
Just down the road from the all-encompassing resort are two intriguing businesses that captivate visitors on their way in or out.
Glades Pike Winery started 22 years ago as a home wine club. Today, it features dozens of regional wines, all processed on site. Their most popular vintages are Glades Pike Red, similar to a lambrusco, and Bicentennial Blush. They also feature blueberry and blackberry dessert wines. The winery is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. During ski season from January through March, they have local music on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m.
The beverage of choice at Moo Echo, a family operation, is their famous milkshake, made from their own milk and ice cream. Moo Echo also produces cheeses and has its own bakery. Its shelves are well stocked with jams, jellies, sauces and homemade candies. This tasty treat of a place is open daily except Sundays.
I did have my burning question answered by one of our host employees. I wanted to know, are there seven springs? I was told there are many more than seven. Every time new construction is done new springs are discovered, but there were seven when the property was originally developed.
For more information, contact 7springs.com.