Downhill Thrills

The runs may be short, but so is the ride to New Jersey's own ski mountains.

Mountain Creek, Jersey's largest ski area, boasts a new base lodge, a mountaintop zip line and a gravity-propelled thrill ride.
Courtesy of Mountain Creek.

Let’s be frank: New Jersey is not Colorado. But that doesn’t mean New Jersey’s ski areas don’t provide their share of winter fun—and all a short drive from much of the state. In fact, the state’s two principal ski resorts—Mountain Creek and the Hidden Valley Club, both in Sussex County—have made substantial efforts in recent years to upgrade the Garden State’s downhill experience.

Mountain Creek is by far the larger of the two. Purchased last year by the nearby Crystal Springs Resort, Mountain Creek has invested in a new base lodge and other improvements that should please loyal Creek skiers and snowboarders. The new three-story, 55,000-square-foot Red Tail Lodge features a ski shop, rentals, public lockers and five food areas, including an outdoor biergarten. There’s also a new learning center. And for those looking for a change of pace, Mountain Creek has two new winter experiences in store: the Zoom Zip Line, a mountaintop zip line over the area’s snowmaking lakes; and the Mountain Coaster, a gravity-propelled thrill ride. Mountain Creek also has a new snow-tubing park.

A season’s pass at Mountain Creek starts at $229.99; one-day passes start at $40.99. Ski-and-stay packages are available at four Crystal Springs properties. For information: 973-827-2000;

The nearby Hidden Valley Club offers a more intimate winter experience. Founded as a ski area in 1975, Hidden Valley was acquired in 2007 by a group of partners who have invested in base-lodge renovations, enhanced snowmaking and improved lighting for night skiing. The new management also has introduced club membership, with the intention of making the mountain even more family friendly.

“Our whole idea here is for families to ski together and grow,” says managing partner Andrea Grund.
Hidden Valley’s 14 trails are split among beginner, intermediate and expert. Of course, expert is a relative term. This is a small mountain, and advanced skiers won’t find much to challenge them. But families will appreciate the Ski Wee program for kids, the secure environment and the ski valet service.

The initial fee for a Hidden Valley Club membership is $5,900. Annual dues vary. For nonmembers, a one-day weekend pass is $52 ($42 for juniors). Weekdays are $29 for adults; $25 for youths. There also are half-day and twilight rates. For information: 973-764-4200;

A third Jersey ski area is Campgaw Mountain in Mahwah. Campgaw has just a handful of runs but is ideal for beginners. Lift tickets start at just $16 for a four-hour weekday pass purchased online. For information: 201-327-7800;

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