Firsthand Report
Firsthand Report: Liberty Mountain Resort 3
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

Historically, I haven’t skied at Liberty Mountain Resort all that often.

In a typical winter, I’m lucky to get a few days to ski at local resorts. Although Pennsylvania’s Liberty is the closest to my house, I’ve usually defaulted to going to Whitetail Resort. On paper, this makes sense: Whitetail has a higher vertical (935 feet vs. Liberty’s 620) and a high-speed quad — something Liberty lacks. So it’s always seemed like I would get more turns for my time at Whitetail.

But a visit to Liberty Mountain on February 21, 2024 reminded me that statistics can only go so far.

While Liberty doesn’t have the same vertical as Whitetail, it has trails with soul, that creatively wind their way across the mountain instead of going straight down.

And while Liberty doesn’t have a high-speed quad to get you to the top of the mountain in a hurry, it has a certain vibe that makes you wonder why you’re in such a hurry in the first place.

Liberty Mountain is set in the scenic rolling hills of southern Pennsylvania, not far from Gettysburg. Photo by M. Scott Smith

And on this midweek visit, Liberty had plentiful sunshine, a definite lack of crowds, and plenty of snow on its 19 (out of 21) open trails, thanks to some recent natural snow and snowmaking-friendly nighttime temperatures.

The snow was in perfect form, softening up a bit by early afternoon as the temperature climbed into the low 40s.

As I made the trek from the parking lot to the base area, I passed by an oval of astroturf and picnic tables and paused. “Didn’t there used to be an ice skating rink there? Or was that just my imagination?” While the ice skating rink is gone, non-skiers will still find a tubing park to provide winter fun.

The base area of Liberty Mountain Resort. Photo by M. Scott Smith

I took the leisurely Alpine Quad to the top of the mountain, and was momentarily disoriented, not sure where to go next. Another contrast between Whitetail and Liberty is that Whitetail’s slopes are arranged in a very obvious way: as you stand at the base area and sweep your eyes from left to right, you see slopes ranging from bunny to expert, in that precise order. At Liberty, you have to ski into the mountain to explore and discover the varying terrain. While the beginner slopes are clustered around the base area, there is plenty of variety spread across the two sides of the mountain.

Trails wind their way down the mountain, providing pastoral views of farmland in the distance. Photo by M. Scott Smith

As I made my first run down the mountain, I found myself thinking back to the many Firsthand Reports I published from Connie Lawn, who contributed to DCSki from 2003 until she passed away in 2018 from Parkinson’s disease. Connie was the longest-credentialed White House correspondent, covering many administrations over the span of 50 years. When she wasn’t attending to her duties as a radio reporter, she loved to spend her time skiing, and my sense was that Liberty was her favorite mountain. With the sun smiling above and the beautiful Pennsylvania scenery unfolding in front of me with each turn, it was easy to see why.

I soon found myself on the “back” side of Liberty, where I spent most of my time. The vibe was strong, with a light gathering of happy skiers and snowboarders sharing the slopes and some nice jams playing on a portable speaker from a friendly lift attendant.

Despite the recent roller-coaster weather (which seems to be becoming an unfortunate reality for Mid-Atlantic winters), most slopes had plenty of cover and were holding their snow nicely; I found little need to dodge thin cover or rocks. If you’re a moguler, you could find some nice moguls on some of the trails. If your knees don’t care for them, no worries — plenty of groomed runs too.

Despite a challenging winter, Liberty’s snow was holding up nicely. Photo by M. Scott Smith

As I made laps down the mountain to the bottom of the Eastwind Quad, it dawned on me: I was having a lot of fun. Now, having fun is certainly one of the reasons people ski, but my main motivation in making a quick trip to Liberty today was to get in a nice workout. Which I did. But what made it more fun than normal? I think it goes back to the soul of the terrain: the trails are windy, and you have decisions to make as you sweep down the mountain.

From the top of the Eastwind Quad, should you go left and make your way over to Sidewinder (which unfortunately requires a very brief uphill climb)? As you arc around Sidewinder, should you head all the way to Whitney’s Way before heading back to the bottom of the lift, or maybe dart down Lower Ultra? Or maybe you start at the top of Upper Ultra — a double-black diamond with a very steep pitch at the top, before cutting over to Lower Heavenly and hero-skiing back to the lift.

It added a lot of variety and kept things interesting.

Upper Ultra provides a steep pitch at the top of the trail before leveling out. Photo by M. Scott Smith

As my Apple Watch cheerfully noted that I had closed my exercise ring for the day, I decided to make my way back to the front of the mountain, ignoring a “thin cover” sign at the top of black diamond White Lightning and charging forward.

The sign wasn’t underselling the condition of the trail: out of all the open trails, White Lightning did indeed have the thinnest cover, alternating between “this is nice!” to “oops, I think that was a rock” to “whoah, that’s a bit hard-packed there.” It wasn’t terrible, but you had to pay close attention to the varying conditions.

It was now starting to feel warm as the snow softened up, so I ended the day with a smile and drove away from Liberty through the rural countryside, seeing some golfers enjoying the sunshine at Liberty’s Carroll Valley Golf Course. And I vowed to make more visits to Liberty in the future to enjoy its soul and vibe.

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About M. Scott Smith

M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.

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Reader Comments

Denis - DCSki Supporter 
5 months ago
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,342 posts
Thanks Scott, nice report.  Too many trip reports read like travel magazines and pay too little attention to the reason for being there - the skiing.  This one captures the soul of the place and your passion for skiing.
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,273 posts

💯yes sir exactly periodt "... trails with soul ...  I was having a lot of fun ...".  

I always loved it just doing laps all day (bumps or not), skiing the "Eric Line" on the right shoulder of Ultra where there were trees and a little ridge, or trying showing off on upper East Wind. Yeah - nice.

And we miss Connie  💔.

oldensign - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
499 posts
Connie would be proud. Nice report.

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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