7Springs Building for the Future
16 Oct 2014
Seven Springs Bike Park is only an hour drive from Pittsburgh. It’s one of very few bike parks in the region. You would think that the mountain bike locals would flock to 7 Springs, which would then prompt the bike park to be well equipped to handle the rider numbers. But it appears that this tipping point has not quite been reached. Mark is doing his upmost to build it though – and if you build it, they will come, or so they say! As for the resort, they already have a ton of non-biking activities and the infrastructure to handle a lot more riders in the bike park.
(Mark flying through the air.)
The resort itself has a bit of a Dirty Dancing style family holiday feel about the place. There’s the main hotel building, but also a number of satellite guesthouses or cabins, as well as stand-alone restaurants, bars and general entertainment buildings. All the buildings, except for the main lodge, are very compact and neatly nestled around the base of the main chairlift. This is clearly an awesome place to ski and party in the winter, and given the capacity to handle large numbers of visitors, why would they not appeal more directly to the mountain bike population? From a trail perspective, there are certainly things happening…
(More air time with Mark.)
On the backside of the mountain, Mark has been busy! This zone offers a much greater vertical drop of 740 ft with steeper terrain to boot. This is where Mark and his small trail crew have focused their efforts over recent months. With the help of some heavy machinery, a new black diamond (downhill) trail and blue grade intermediate (freeride) trail have taken shape. The black diamond KT7 trail is technical, with steep sections that are a bit of a step up from the blacks on the front side. And the blue trail (yet to be named, so suggestions welcomed in the Facebook comments at the end!) has smooth machine-built rollers and berms suitable for any standard of rider.
(Ladder to rock drop feature.)
So for next season, once these 2 new trails are fully up and running, the second chairlift will run on the north side of the mountain. This will add a huge new element to 7Springs Bike Park! The really exciting part to all this is the fact that 7 Springs is on private land. So unlike the larger resorts that are handcuffed by Forest Service regulations, Mark has the freedom to innovate. No wonder he would let-out the odd unprompted desperate plea of “get me an excavator!” If equipped with this dirt mover, Mark could make some serious progress and trails would take shape quickly. Just be sure to stay off the manicured grass pistes as it looks untidy - at least we think that’s the reason you won’t see any trails out in the open on the front face of the hill!
(Is this a pistes? No one speaks French here.)
It’s not just gravity trails here either. There’s a cross-country network that sets out from the top of the hill. They are well marked and maintained XC trails that spread out across the rolling hills. You won’t find a pump track, or skills area, but these are the sorts of things that can come quickly (with investment of course), as rider numbers start to increase. The bike shop on site is pretty limited, as are the rental bikes that are available there. And, there are not that many of them, so best to come well equipped with your own stuff. The shop also shuts before lifts stop running, or at least it did when we were there, so make a note just in case! If you’re looking for the bike wash, it’s up the hill from the base of the lift (a bit out of sight), and opposite the main entrance to the Foggy Goggle bar (which, by the way, looks like it could be the best après-ski bar in the world EVER!) Unfortunately, it’s closed in summer, as there are just not enough visitors to justify it.
(One of many rock drops to be found at 7Springs)
As for other activities at 7 Springs, it’s hard to know where to start! This is right up there with any other location on the ECRT so far. In no particular order, there’s a Climbing Wall, Alpine Tower, Eurobungy, Alpine Slide, Summer Tubing, Hydro Bikes (on the lake), Paddle Boats, Disc Golf, regular Golf, Segway rides, Paintball, Fishing, a Zipline, and a Canopy Experience (think ropes). And that’s just outside! Take it inside and you’ll find swimming pools, crazy golf, and an arcade room, where we spent a good couple of hours goofing around in the evening. Great fun no matter what age you are! Although, if you do need something more ‘grown-up’, then the Trillium Spa is the perfect place to unwind. Or, if you’re feeling a little more aggressive, then Sporting Clays is one of the most recognized and highly rated clay shooting facilities in the whole of the US!
(...and this guy.)
There are stacks of places to stay and even more places to eat by the looks of it. And with a steady calendar of events throughout the summer, it’s easy to add a completely unique element to any visit. We were especially bummed to be missing the Wine Festival by one day – our schedule taking us on to Snowshoe just as the marquee tents were being erected at 7Springs. Inconsolable for a number of hours, at the thought of missing out on chugging numerous bottles of Pinot Noir in the Pennsylvania evening sunshine. Awesome for the weekend, or longer for those with kids as you’ll need the time to do everything else! It would seem that from a bike park perspective, Seven Springs could be whatever it chooses to make of itself.
If you missed article one, read it here.