Hey what you look’in at? Of course you can ski in Jersey! Let me tell you… They think that skiing is only for those more Westerly or Northerly states. Well it isn’t! Because we got some fine skiing right here in good old Jersey! They don’t call it the Garden State for nothin’. Why just an ‘our or so… pending on traffic… from the GW bridge you can find some fine skiing. Our ski area, the mighty Mountain Creek, towers over the countryside lofting to a height of almost 1,500 deer. There is 45 ways down too… Vinne said 46 but what does he know… It’s even got one of those “Frenchie” lifts: a cabriolet. No wimpy sitting down here in Jersey, you stand on the way to the top. ‘Cause that’s how we do it in Jersey!
All kidding aside this time last year (when we had a ski season) I managed to ski my 33rd state - New Jersey! I drove an hour out of NYC and found the “Last of the Mohicans” Mountain Creek Ski Resort. It is an interesting area located on a long ridgeline in “western” New Jersey. There once were several ski areas in this region but most have paved over (kidding!). At one time there even was a train from New York that ran right to the base of the resort.
Mountain Creek is the combination of what were three smaller areas: Vernon Valley, Great Gorge North and Great Gorge South. A couple of poor snow years, the bust of the condo market in the 1990s, and some other poor investments led to the ski areas being swept up by Intrawest in the early 2000s. As is Intrawest’s style, they had plans to remake the area and create an alpine village. They also added a water park and mountain bike park. However, these efforts were never fully successful, and the resort sold to a private investor group in 2015.
Another “feature” of this area is the nearby Playboy Club. (Only in Jersey people!) Built in the early 1970s, the Playboy club was connected to the ski area by a gondola. It is a massive hotel with multiple wings, a tennis center, a couple of pools and a golf course. The club flourished for awhile in the mid-1970s but closed in the early 1980s. It now sits abandoned and decaying across the valley floor from the ski area.
All that aside, the resort’s layout is very functional. There are three areas: Vernon Peak - the main lodge or village area with the Cabriolet lift and over 1,000 feet of drop. Granite Peak - middle of the ridge with 800 feet of drop, and also the location of the tubing park. And South/Bear Peak - another older lodge area with a couple of high speed quads leading to 1,000 feett of drop and some racing-worthy terrain. All the areas are interconnected, which spreads the crowds out and allows for some exploring. However to get back across the ridge, you have to take a very long fixed double that goes over hill and dale eventually ending up at Granite Peak. I’m pretty sure that trip was at least 20 minutes long.
So how is the skiing? Well, it is very mid-Atlantic. making it weather and snowmaking dependent. The day I skied it had rained the night before, so while not bulletproof, it was crunchy. The Cabriolet lift at Vernon peak requires taking your skis off to ride up. Early in the morning the walkways on top were a bit icy due to the rain the night before. Folks where sliding everywhere! As I made my way across the ridge the skiing got better. The runs off the high speed quads on South Peak were in pretty good shape. I escaped up to that side of the resort and got some decent laps in.
The resort also had an “only in Jersey” RFID lift ticket system that provided a very tight wristband instead of a traditional lift ticket.
Basically, the Mountain Creek setup is bunch of short runs spread along a long ridge line which gives it a lot of variety for such a small area. The three base areas mean there are lots of interesting little runs to explore. So a day here is entertaining to say the least.
Overall, I found it kind of like Seven Springs but with different accents!
Robbie Allen is an avid small hill skier. He has written several articles on the many small hills he has sought out.
Nice summary Robbie. You gave a fun sense of the place for those of us who've never been there. Skiing 33 states is pretty amazing!
Mountain Creek includes some of the infamous Action Park. I never made it there in its heyday, but went to the water park in 2003. It was briefly rebranded a while back, but it didn't last.