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Laurel Mountain ski resort makes Top 10 list for its history and steep slopes

Shirley McMarlin
| Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, 12:48 p.m.
Laurel Mountain ski resort in Ligonier Township was named one of the 'Top 10 Ski Resorts in the Blue Ridge” in the December 2017 issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.
Laurel Mountain ski resort in Ligonier Township was named one of the 'Top 10 Ski Resorts in the Blue Ridge” in the December 2017 issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.

It's small compared to neighboring Seven Springs and Hidden Valley, but Laurel Mountain ski resort is getting recognition of its own.

The Ligonier Township slope has made the list of "Top 10 Ski Resorts in the Blue Ridge" in the December 2017 issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.

Laurel Mountain is cited for its rich history along with its possession of the steepest run in Pennsylvania.

That run is the double diamond Lower Wildcat, which averages a near 60 percent slope. Laurel Mountain also boasts the highest vertical drop on the Laurel Ridge at 761 feet.

Calling Laurel Mountain the "best place to ski back in time," Blue Ridge Outdoors says, "Situated in Laurel Mountain State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands, this one-lift wonder was just opened last year for the first time since 2004. Everything about the resort pays homage to the ski area's storied past. Enlarged vintage photos from the early 1940s hang in the one-room lodge. The Midway Cabin, an original structure, still stands along the ski runs."

Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine is a guide to outdoor sports, health and adventure travel in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Each month, the magazine features the best destinations for outdoor adventure and also covers issues, trends, music and gear related to outdoor pursuits.

According to the Laurel Mountain website , the slopes were designed by Johann "Hannes" Schneider, a renowned Austrian ski guide and inventor of the Arlberg Method, the basis of modern alpine ski technique.

The resort opened in 1940 as the first full service ski area in the state, catering to members of the nearby Rolling Rock Club. It was opened to the public in 1946 and gifted to the commonwealth in 1964.

The 1978-79 season was the last under state park operations. The following decades saw intermittent operation under several owners.

In 2004, Seven Springs entered into an agreement to run Laurel Mountain. In 2014, the State of Pennsylvania released grant funds for revitalization of the site and the slopes reopened in December 2016.

Regular hours of operation for the current ski season will begin on Jan. 2, the website says.

The resort has 20 slopes and trails on 70 skiable acres.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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