Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on February 11, 2023.
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We are quite fortunate to have a number of ski resorts in the Laurel Highlands with slopes suitable for all skill levels.
But for those who are beginners to the sport, like myself, one property sticks out as being a stellar option for those looking to learn- Hidden Valley.
With several easy-to-navigate trails, modest on-site amenities, a wonderful staff, and a relaxed ambiance all around, Hidden Valley should be the first stop for those looking to learn to ski in the Laurel Highlands!
Hidden Valley Offers Easy Slopes for All Guests
As a beginner skier, I appreciate that Hidden Valley is a friendly option for those starting. This is because the resort is home to roughly two dozen trails with the vast majority (roughly 2/3) rated as easy (green) and intermediate (blue).
The slopes here are split up into two sections, with lifts originating from the main Ski Lodge and another lift originating from the Avalanche Lodge a short drive down the park road. From the Ski Lodge lifts, I found myself hitting the tried-and-true green trails of Rambler and Bobcat for long runs with ample space, finishing with a little bit of an increase in grade to get some speed when returning to the lifts below without being too intense.
For those who wish to make their way over to the Avalanche Lodge, you can take the Model T and Tracker crossover trails at the top (or simply drive to the secondary parking lot) and take more trails down the mountain. However, it is worth noting that despite having two green trails, this section of Hidden Valley will require all skiers to tackle a few blue segments (particularly Angel's Elbow or Upper Comet) to reach the green trails of Voyager and Lower Comet respectively.
As such, while there are some good runs here for true beginners like myself, you may find yourself having to try tackling some blues if only as a means to cut across to a new green in the end.
Thankfully, if you are clueless like I am and need a confidence booster, the ski instructors at Hidden Valley are excellent at giving beginner tips, and by the end of an outing you may have some new-found confidence to try a few blues while you are at it.
Reasonably Priced Seasonal Rentals
One of my favorite things about Hidden Valley, as far as Laurel Highlands ski resorts are concerned, is that their rental prices and lift tickets are often among the cheapest in the area.
What you may not know, however, is that Hidden Valley's ski shop also offers seasonal rentals for equipment which is quite the deal for those who plan to make several trips to the area resorts (as I was intending thanks to being an Epic Pass holder from Vail Resorts in 2023).
To give an example of why this is important, during the 2023 season Hidden Valley's rental rates were $53 online and $58 walkup, whereas seasonal rentals were just $220 for skis, boots, and poles. Seven Springs was approximately $5 more expensive for both day rentals (without a seasonal option), and Laurel Mountain was the same as Hidden Valley (again, without a seasonal option). This means those who visit area resorts roughly four to five times start getting a discount via a seasonal rental.
Note: Much like reserving a daily rental in advance saves money, it is worth booking your lift tickets in advance if you don't have a season pass. Most Laurel Highlands resorts offer a slight discount for booking early, which also ensures access as the resorts can and do hit capacity at peak times (particularly weekends and holidays)!
Although it is also worth noting that helmets and goggles are not available to rent in seasonal packages, and purchasing those set me back about $120 to buy a set outright. So to average it out, those who visit the area resorts approximately five to six times in a single season may find the long-term rental a great option.
All this being said, the staff at Hidden Valley have also earned stellar reputations for their fittings for these long-term rentals and ski sales outright. The result ended up being a perfectly fitted boot and ski set that really helped me hit the ground running when it came time to learn.
Finally, it is also worth noting that seasonal rentals are generally unavailable for pickup on the same day as the fitting. Depending on demand it may take a few days or up to a week before the skis become available. If you intend to hit the slopes on the day of your fitting, you may have to pick up a rental from Hidden Valley or a 3rd party shop at an additional fee.
Food at Hidden Valley
Going beyond the slopes at Hidden Valley, the property has a few modest on-site amenities worth knowing about- particularly around food.
The main restaurant we frequent when visiting Hidden Valley is Glaciers Pub- a modest on-site bar and grill featuring simple sandwiches, wraps, soup, salads, and a bar menu just steps from the slopes with a great view.
Upstairs from the pub is Sunrise Sunset Cafe, featuring a bit more of a grab-and-go style menu with additional items of burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and more. That being said, during our visits we often tend to see the pub open at much wider hours than the cafe, so it is possible dining options may be somewhat limited here depending on when you visit.
Overall, Hidden Valley is a modestly sized ski resort the Laurel Highlands that makes a great spot for those looking to learn or others who simply want a more relaxed experience on the slopes. After that, plan a return visit to their sister resort, Seven Springs to tackle even more slopes!
Hidden Valley is located at 1 Craighead Rd in Hidden Valley, PA. I was partially hosted by Vail Resorts as part of my visit. As always, all opinions are our own.