Mystic Mountain gets early start on season

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Mystic Mountain at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort opened its seven slopes and trails and new terrain park Friday for the season, five days earlier than scheduled, thanks to more than a foot of natural snow and ideal snow-making conditions.

The 25-acre venue, one of the best places to learn how to ski and snowboard, opened snow-tubing lanes last week. Although its snowsports terrain usually is open Fridays through Sundays, it will be open daily in the holiday season through Jan. 5.

Matt Grobe, the resort's recreation director, said the terrain park dubbed "The Yeti's Lair" was requested by guests and season pass-holders. It has six features, including a 24-foot flat box, 16-foot down cannon rail and 24-foot rainbow box. "Introduction to Terrain Park" lessons are available.

"Terrain parks continue to be an aggressively growing ski industry trend," Grobe said. "Our goal is to provide a terrain park experience that our skiers and [snowboarders] can navigate while learning the skills necessary to be able to successfully master more advanced terrain parks."

Resort marketing director Ashli Mazer said the Apex restaurant in the Sundial Lodge will offer "relaxed food choices" this season, including wings, soups, flatbreads, sandwiches and a variety of beverages. Mazer said the lodge also will feature dining specials and live entertainment.

The two-story lodge replaced the original wooden lodge destroyed by fire in February 2012 and has a ski/snowboard rental shop, retail store, arcade, eight-lane bowling alley and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. Information:; 1-800-422-2736.

Stocking stuffers

Blue Knob, Hidden Valley and Seven Springs are offering money-saving lift ticket packages.

Blue Knob's 4Pack, available through Dec. 25, offers four all-day, any-day, lift tickets for $189, a savings of $51. A 4Pack valid for weekdays only, non-holidays, costs $99, a savings of $21. The resort also is offering a 25 percent discount on season passes through Dec. 31.

Hidden Valley is offering a Six Tix Pack -- six lift tickets that can be used any day, including weekends and holidays. The cost is $226 for adults, $196 for children aged 6-11.

Seven Springs Super Seven Card offers seven any-day, any-time lift tickets for $349 (adults) and $245 (children 6 - 11).

Information: (1-800-458-3403); (1-814-443-8000); (1-800-452-2223).

Winter fun day

The Friends of North Park will play host to "a winter day of fun and community engagement" from 1-4 p.m. Dec. 28 at the Rose Barn.

Gary Rigdon, chairman of the organization, said family-friendly outdoor activities will include snowshoe demonstrations and sled-riding (weather permitting), hiking, ice skating and mountain bike riding.

Representatives of L.L. Bean, the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group, OTB (Over the Bar) at the Boathouse, Venture Outdoors, Dynamic Paddlers, Go Ape! Treetop Adventure, Latoya Nature Center, North Area Environmental Council and Allegheny County Parks will be on hand to show-and-tell about their respective organizations.

Light refreshments will be served. Attendees are asked to bring their own water bottles and will receive a $2 admission coupon valid that day only for entrance to the North Park Ice Skating Rink. Information:

No worries

Local and regional resorts have more than enough snow to survive this weekend's warm and wet forecast. And they all will resume snow-making early next week when conditions permit. Base depths range from 18-48 inches. Resorts in the Laurel Highlands, western New York, western Maryland and West Virginia benefit from temperatures that are usually 5-8 degrees colder than ones at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Larry Walsh writes about recreational snow sports for the Post-Gazette.

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