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Mountain Creek observations and questions

deadheadskier

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I just got back from spending three days at Mountain Creek for a business meeting. I had never been to the area prior. We stayed at the Minerals Hotel which sits at the base of the middle of the three peaks.

Obviously being summertime, you don't get a full appreciation for what the area is like during ski season, but I have to say what I saw vastly exceeded the impression I had in my mind after years of reading on AZ and elsewhere how terrible of a place Mountain Creek is.

A. What I saw for a ski facility vastly exceeded the feeder hill places for Boston. Definitely a more interesting mountain than Wachusett, Crotched or Pat's. Far larger than all of them too. The vertical looked legit in the 800-1000 foot range, decent pitch, not a lot of run out. I believe each peak had a HSQ. Base facilities looked solid. I'm sure snow quality is an issue being much warmer than up here, but the physical infrastructure was vastly better than places up here that get far less ridicule.

B. I did not realize that Mountain Creek was a full on four season resort area. That is certainly not the case for Wachusett, Crotched or Pat's. The Mineral hotel had a more impressive indoor / outdoor pool area than anything that exists in New England save for a full on Water park resort like Jay Peak. The gym facilities were also great; indoor tennis courts, basketball, tons of different kids activities. The place was absolutely packed with families having a great time.

C. This area of New Jersey would be considered incredibly scenic for anywhere. I drove in from 84 and the roads I took south through Warwick, Florida and down into Vernon were great. Tons of beautiful farms and cool old farmhouses.

D. I'm not a golfer, but my parents are fanatics. I played probably 10-20 times a year with them during my teens through my mid 20s at some very nice courses over those years. I think Mountain Creek has four courses associated with the resort? I played at Ballyowen yesterday. First time I swung a club in 15 years. Probably a top five course of the 50+ I've played in my lifetime. Really challenging links style course.

I was too busy having fun with colleagues to take many pictures, but I did grab one picture of the course and there was an absolutely killer sunset from the clubhouse.

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danimals

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Most of Jersey is pretty scenic, most people only see the areas near nyc and philly which is a very small part of it. It is called the garden state after all.

The facilities at creek are good but a lot of the hate is warranted. The main peaks (Vernon peak) high speed lift is a stand up gondola. The most interesting trails are on the the two southern peaks served by two high speed quads, but those two peaks are entirely terrain parks.

That said, I’ve never had a bad day there but have also never gone on a weekend.


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I skied one day with my MAX pass there a few years ago. The skiing GREATLY exceeded my expectations. Actually the main summit lift is an open-air gondola so it's a total PIA to ski down for 60-90 seconds before having to take off your skis. The run from the main mountain to the south area is beautiful, as is the double chair that returns you to the main area. The South mountain was great and skied pretty big for 900vert (I believe that's what it was). I saw the old trail Pipeline that looked legitimately steep but they've had it closed for years apparently which is a shame and I don't remember why they closed it.

Terrain quality is on par with Wachusetts (imo) but there is a lot more to ski and lots of different areas and exposures.
 

deadheadskier

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Now my questions

1. Why do so many of you from metro NY basically refuse to ski there? Is the snow and crowds that awful? I totally get wanting to ski Northern mountains more, but knowing how busy my life is between a busy career and two children under four, I'd for certain ski there more days than traveling North. As is, I probably ski my feeder hill Crotched 1 day per every two I ski my preferred Mountain of Wildcat or other larger northern areas. Typically ski Crotched 8-10 days and head North about 20. That's because Crotched is 1:10 from home and my preferred Northern mountains area all pretty much two hours plus away. If I lived down there by you all that ratio would probably be more 50/50 with a place like Mountain Creek being an hour or less and up north being 4-5 hours away.

2. What's up with the middle Mountain at Mountain Creek? Why is it mostly undeveloped? It's shorter vertical than the two on the flanks, but much steeper. Also, what's up with the one trail that appears to be abandoned? Skiers left of the chair? It appears on old trail maps, but is no longer on the map and looks mostly grown in. Why did they give up on it? Also kinda weird they left all the snowmaking tower guns in place. Do people still ski it during the rare times natural snow depth would allow it in NJ?

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ScottySkis

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I biased because my dad had a town house and crazy ex that works there
I have ski there a lot when that part of NJ gets a major 2 foot snow storm every 4 years it awesome to be 20 minutes away from Middletown knowing the back ways
It's kind of flat drawn 1000 vertical
Njight skiing is nice when living close for mid week fun on weekends
Crazy NYC drunks on fighting teenager types all over the place
 

danimals

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1. Not nyc but I’m from philly area and used to live near nyc. The crowds can get pretty crazy and hunter/Catskills are not much further of a drive for better snow and terrain.

2. That whole center peak is a cluster. The history of the place is interesting as it was two different resorts that became one. The center peak, called granite, is really steep and rocky. I honestly don’t see how they could add any more trails to the peak, even when taking the lift up it’s hard to pick out where any trails could go. The closed black diamond trail had a 90 degree turn at the bottom since they built condos and shortened the original trail to make way for those. There was also a blue trail that wrapped the front side, but it had a lot of flat spots.


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deadheadskier

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Are the Poconos areas that much better than Mountain Creek to drive further too if you live in North Jersey? Camelback, Shawnee, Blue, Montage, Elk?

I've only seen Elk and Montage; both during the summer. Montage I'd say no. Elk does look more compelling. Elk actually looks like a very fun small Mountain. But it's probably just as easy to get to the Catskills. I've never seen any of the Catskills ski areas.

My corporate office is in Mahwah, NJ. I only make it there about twice a year and so far never during ski season. If I did make it down there during winter, I'd probably pack my skis and hang for a couple of days to try out something local. Likely Hunter and Plattekill or maybe Bellyare. But I did find myself looking at Mountain Creek the past few days and thinking I'd like to try it sometime.

I'll ski anywhere though. I'm pretty fond of trying smaller local places that aren't destinations

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deadheadskier

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1. Not nyc but I’m from philly area and used to live near nyc. The crowds can get pretty crazy and hunter/Catskills are not much further of a drive for better snow and terrain.

2. That whole center peak is a cluster. The history of the place is interesting as it was two different resorts that became one. The center peak, called granite, is really steep and rocky. I honestly don’t see how they could add any more trails to the peak, even when taking the lift up it’s hard to pick out where any trails could go. The closed black diamond trail had a 90 degree turn at the bottom since they built condos and shortened the original trail to make way for those. There was also a blue trail that wrapped the front side, but it had a lot of flat spots.


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I guess it would be very expensive, but they could probably blast and grade something if they really wanted to on that peak.

It just seemed weird that there is this vast acreage between the two areas with what looked like a HSQ servicing only one trail.

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cdskier

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I guess it would be very expensive, but they could probably blast and grade something if they really wanted to on that peak.

It just seemed weird that there is this vast acreage between the two areas with what looked like a HSQ servicing only one trail.

There used to be more trails on granite...but they've closed some of them over the years (Pipeline apparently had too many injuries or so I heard). But yes, that peak is largely under-used and just a relatively pointless connector for the most part.

Personally I skied there a bunch when I was in HS and just starting to ski (my school did our ski club trips there either my Junior and Senior years or just my Senior year...prior to that we went to a mountain up the road called Hidden Valley which I don't even think is open any more or at least not open to the public). After HS I re-visited Mountain Creek only once a couple years after I was out of college with my dad.

Here's my take:

My favorite terrain was on South and Bear peaks. Those peaks are now mostly giant terrain parks. (Strike one)
The Cabriolet sucks (seriously...taking your skis off and having to stand the entire ride up is horrible) (Strike two)
Back in HS I felt it had decent pitch. When I re-visited it several years later it felt very flat and seemed to ski shorter than the vertical supposedly is (Strike three)

Mountain Creek is 45 minutes from me. The Cats are 2 hours. So for me the choice is easy. I would much rather drive an extra hour or so and ski vastly superior terrain (and conditions) in the Catskills. The season at MC is also shorter than the Cats. They get less snow than the Cats. The terrain is less interesting than the Cats (Cats have a decent variety of groomed, moguls, natural trails, and even glades while MC is mostly just groomers).

To me any negativity towards MC is justified based on my personal experience. Now I can't compare it to the MA feeder hills you mentioned. So I can't say whether or not it is better than any of them. But to me the Cats are close enough to day trip to over MC any day.
 

abc

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1. Why do so many of you from metro NY basically refuse to ski there? Is the snow and crowds that awful?
I don’t have problem with the snow. But I must say the crowd was awful!

My first trip to MC was a great one. Storm paralyzed the whole metro NY area, and my office was closed. So I drove to MC for a day. There was maybe a hundred skiers. Tons of snow. I had a fantastic day.

So a few weeks later, I went back again with a friend (actually a date), on a weekend. Boy, was that a mistake! The crowd was unbelievable! But to make matter infinitely worse, there’s this total disinterest from all the staff working there. First, there’s huge line to purchase lift ticket. And, you also pay for lessons and rental there too! So the line moved at a snails pace!

The rental line was equally bad but we fortunately had our own equipment. Except like I said, we had to wait inline to buy lift tickets. The same line where families were discussing and debating who’s taking which lesson and what equipment. That just took forever!

The lift line needless to say, was insane too. So we barely got like 2 runs before it was midday. Then we had the misfortune of equipment issue. The obvious thing to do was to rent something for the afternoon. Well, that entails a very loooong wait at the rental place, in the middle of the day!

A few years later, when the terrible memory faded, I went back again. Well, this time the reminder of how awful the crowd was long lasting! Without a pleasant companion to chitchat pass the time, those long lines practically drove me insane! Right then and there, I vowed never to go there again!!!

The “mountain”, is actually a fine one. The crowd were big but that comes with the location and can’t be helped. What’s really so terrible about that place is the way the crowds are NOT managed. Instead, everything was an incredibly long wait. Far longer than other equally crowded mountains say, Hunter or Bellearye.

Basically the choice is, drive an extra hour to some place else? Or spend an extra hour waiting in various lines at MC? At the end of the day, you may find you ski more in a shorter time at a better run mountain, so the extra driving is totally justified.
 
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deadheadskier

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If it's as crowded as you all say and half of it is a terrain park, then perhaps I too would give it a hard pass.

Up here crowds at CM are really light and Pat's isn't terrible in the morning. Both mountains are mostly ski terrain and not parks. CM has some pretty great tree skiing that's open 5-6 weeks a season. Pat's has a really good bump run. Wachusett I've only skied once in the past 30 years, so I can't really comment about there. I do hear the crowds are nuts though.

I guess I was just really surprised by the overall size of Mountain Creek. I certainly wasn't expecting something like that so close to NYC.

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abc

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If you really want to try it, make sure it's a weekday, and NOT a school holiday. Or you'll hate it like the rest of us! ;)

All my experience at MC were before they converted south mountain to terrain park. So I thought the terrain was decent for its size. It's just the crowd that's the problem. I'm not even talking about the crowds on the slope, the crowding BEFORE you even get to hit the slope was enough to drive me out of there! But now with the terrain park, I have even less reason to go there.

Part of the "hate" has to do with the relatively easy access to far superior alternatives in the Cats. Most of the Cats' mountains are, in my opinion, are just a tad below the critical point of crowdedness. MC is above that critical point, which makes it impossible to enjoy it.
 
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mbedle

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I guess it would be very expensive, but they could probably blast and grade something if they really wanted to on that peak.

It just seemed weird that there is this vast acreage between the two areas with what looked like a HSQ servicing only one trail.

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That lift was original installed to service more than one trail (maybe around 5, but somewhat interconnected). Its main purpose now is to provide a way for people to get over to South Peak, in the same way as the double that takes you from South Peak to Granite. However, it does beg the question on why they chose to close pretty much all of the former trails. My guess, it has to do with the pipeline and safety.
 

Killingtime

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Skied there a few years ago on the Max pass too. Like a lot of people on this forum, I didn't have high expectations. Its a pretty quick drive from LI, so I figured if it really blows at least the lift tickets were free and all it cost me was gas and tolls. I found it wasn't nearly as terrible as its reputation and some runs were actually fun. The terrain park area was worth a few laps. The mountain itself was larger than I expected and felt that it skied bigger than the trail map suggested. The stand up gondola was a little weird and that's where most of the crowds were. One observation, place is littered with beer cans under every lift line. Dirtiest ski resort I've ever seen. WTF? Someone told me they do night skiing and then it all made sense. I'd go back if I can get cheap lift tickets and I was looking for a very short day trip.
 

ScottySkis

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This is from my trip reported from 2016 winter of almost no snow
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IndexForumSkiing and SnowboardingNortheast Skiing and Snowboarding Trip Reports Sunday 1/24/16 Plattekill and mountain Creek NJ
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Jan 24, 2016, 10:16 PM #1
ScottySkis ScottySkis is online now

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Sunday 1/24/16 Plattekill and mountain Creek NJ
So first day at Platty for season. Cold windy maybe high if 5 not sure good snowmaking getting better. Over recent years for sure. Got their at 830 only easy hour in half ride no snow to deal with on way up. Skiied every trail open and closed ones except blockbuster. Good half foot fell no natural trails last weekend ski over some small rocks not muc damage. Glad I went had great day then decided on way home to hit up snowy mountain Creek NJ that trip reports goes up after I watch new X file show
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Drive up is opposite then usual. Middletown just and 2 inches maybe .taken back roads when I get to onion town just miles from NY nj border it looks like north vermont. Epic snow fall everywhere they definitely got a good 18 inches. Booted up In the car.a lot of people where here during day can tell by extra parking lots open. Looking like a lot left now which I was hoping for. Got my kift ticket at south singles lines at first about 8 to 10 minutes. Got up packed powder everywhere good night lights and 100% night trails open which I can see this hill from Middletown which I love .deffinly a too 2 day their ever. Then went to granite Peak no crowd here stayed for about an hour or so. Tried to ski closed trail fun powder lines to I found out why it was close but ass rocks not enough sniw in it yet to not get hurt . got back to south at 730 no wait now. A lot lot of kids vaporizer on lines getting in trouble this place is definitely place NY c joes go to much more so then what I see at hunter. Finished at 815 pm because I was tired. Hill stays open to 9/Sunday and 10 other days. Glad I came for real packed powder at night still a lot of people on slopes but crazy like I sure it was in morning. First for me skiing 1 day at two different hills so glad I did though.

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Cool, glad you got a double dose, I know you needed it. In retrospect, I wish I had traveled to storm ski the Poconos on Saturday instead of skiing Greek, oh well, it's gotta snow up here eventually... right?
Leave no turn unstoned!
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Quote Originally Posted by Cornhead View Post
Cool, glad you got a double dose, I know you needed it. In retrospect, I wish I had traveled to storm ski the Poconos on Saturday instead of skiing Greek, oh well, it's gotta snow up here eventually... right?
It's all Corns fault we are not getting any snow this winter because he bought new snow tires this season. HA HA, Montage Mtn. got 4 inches.
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It my fault to because I have snow tires to lol.

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Thanks Bob and Dan hopefully we will again make turns soon.
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mriceyman

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Pipeline used to be the only reason to go.. was a legit difficult trail back in the day. I will drive past and go to blue 100 out of 100 times


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ThinkSnow

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Skied MC once probably over 20-25 years ago now-- even back the terrain just seemed boring. I used to patrol at Wachusett, and while that hill does get boring pretty quickly as well, it is good for a mid-week stretching of the legs after work-- past 7pm when all the school groups have gone home & you have the place to yourself. And while it is mostly groomed, because of that they do a nice job keeping the quality of the snow decent throughout the season.
 

BenedictGomez

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C. This area of New Jersey would be considered incredibly scenic for anywhere. I drove in from 84 and the roads I took south through Warwick, Florida and down into Vernon were great. Tons of beautiful farms and cool old farmhouses.

Sigh........ Much of New Jersey would be considered incredibly scenic for anywhere.

The disparity is (most) people drive though on the GSP, NJ Turnpike, or land at EWR, and somehow believe they're an authority on the totality of the 9,000 square miles comprising State of New Jersey.
 

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If I did make it down there during winter, I'd probably pack my skis and hang for a couple of days to try out something local. Likely Hunter and Plattekill or maybe Bellyare. But I did find myself looking at Mountain Creek the past few days and thinking I'd like to try it sometime.

If you only have 1 day, and it's an average or a solid snow year, Plattekill is where you need to go.
If you only have 1 day, and it's a terrible snow year, Hunter is the place where you should go.
If you only have 1 day, there'd never be a reason to hit Belleayre instead of Hunter or Platty.


Mountain Creek is 45 minutes from me. The Cats are 2 hours. So for me the choice is easy. I would much rather drive an extra hour or so and ski vastly superior terrain (and conditions) in the Catskills.

THIS.

I'm born & raised in NJ, yet DHS & I both share the fact we've never skied Mountain Creek. I don't see the point.
 
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