If we stay off-mountain - for example, in Somerset - how painful is that going to be? I haven't been there in many years and don't really remember what the parking is like. I remember having to get on a bus from the parking lot to the ski area. What does parking there cost now? Is it likely to get full?
Any lodging suggestions for a future trip for 2 adults, 4 kids?
Should I assume the "preferred parking" lot will be instantly full? How early in the AM would I need to get there to get a spot?
The only preferred parking is beside the Blitzen lift (#5) by the super pipe. I think it is still $20 for the day, weekdays it's free. As you enter the main lower lot by the base area you will see a road on the right with a sign at the entrance that directs all traffic away from that road. Ignore it and continue down that road past the lift Blitzen chair. The pay parking lot is right before the drop off. You pay at the guard house. If you come through the main entrance (which you will if coming from Somerset) and parking attendants want to guide you to the upper lots tell them that you are going to the skier drop off.
If the pay lot is full, at the very least you can drop of equipment and family in the drop area. Just tell the attendant at the guard booth that you are dropping off, then park in the inner circle, curb lane is reserved for shuttle busses. You will have enough time to buy tickets and schlep your gear to the locker and change room which you will find by walking to the right of the ticket office under the overhead walk that connects the service building to the ski lodge. Entering through the series of double door on your right as the Polar Express lift comes into view. I think the first set of doors is also a stair well but you can still access the change/locker room. There are little change cubicles on the wall to your left if you need a little privacy. The lockers are pay with quarters, one time use only. Most people just stuff their clothing and boot bags inside and close the door without paying. The doors will not lock unless you insert quarters and lock and remove the key.
Now get back to your car and cruise the lower lot for a parking spot. Do not park your car on the roadway side of the stone barrels. They will tow your car. If no space can be found then head to the upper lots and take a shuttle back to the drop ff area free of gear and family.
I come from Pittsburgh, can't help with Somerset questions.
There are many reasonably priced rental properties in Hidden Valley resort area. Seven springs is 6 miles away. Check out VRBO or Homesway websites.
I am staying in Somerset, PA and just visited 7 Springs today. This is my 3rd time visitng 7 Spring, all 3 times I stay in Somerset, PA.
To answer your question, the drive is not painful and very doable. It takes about ~30 mins. to 7 Springs.
We used Somerset PA as a base for this trip: visited Laurel Mtn yesterday (very nice and worth a visit), 7 Springs today, will vlsit Blue Knob tomorrow before heading home to DC.
If you have a chance, check out HV. A lot nicer and probably cheaper than staying in a chain motel in Somerset. Also closer to both 7S and LM.
If focusing on LM, take a look up at Johnstown (Richlant Twp section). Several hotels there - Hampton, Holiday Inn Express, Comfort and Sleep Inns and a few smaller local places all right off the highway and near services. Decent options for staying if heading to Blue Knob too - those are only 30 minutes away.
Agreed that staying at a vacation rental around Hidden Valley or 7S is much nicer option than a chain motel in Somerset. Some very neat placesare available with lots of mountain character. Check out www.SylvaniaMountainLodge.com for example.
In the end, decided to stay in a VRBO condo in Swiss Mountain Village. Short bus ride to Seven Springs. I had not been to Seven Springs for many years, but the "late 70s" ambience remained the same. Great snow this weekend, though, and we really enjoyed it. A little bit on the cloudy/foggy side both days, and of course it snowed yesterday. Not a fun drive back to DC last night!