Step 2 Finding “Local” Powder

Disclaimer- If you are looking for long, super steep, and exposed back country runs this info will likely not help you much, as these are found  mostly well outside the Philly area day trip range.

The next step in my Flatlander splitboard project is to start scouting out and reporting back on some “local” backcountry areas to skin up and ride down. This is in addition to the list of local resorts that allow uphill travel in step 1. The goal of finding BC areas is to beat the crowds and save on access fees. I think Jeremy Jones says it best with  “Price of admission is lots of calories”.  I am designating “local” as areas that are within a reasonable day trip of my house in SE Pennsylvania. This really means that it should take me no more then 3.5 hours each way.  While 7 hours of driving in one day is not ideal, it is certainly doable. However this is a last resort in favor of backpacking, car camping, or local hotels/Air BNBs. The goal is to maximize the time outside and minimize the travel time.

My plan is to explore the Catskills, Hudson Valley, and Northern Pennsylvania this winter and keep updating new areas and trip logs here. This past weekend I made it out to Bearpen Mountain with @pinto375 with the goal to bag another Catskill 3500 summit and explore the possibility of back country snowboarding. While my Splitboard did not arrive in time we were graced by a rare heavy snow in November, and I opted to haul up a resort board. We ended up finding ride-able lines and beautiful hiking.

Bearpen Mountain sits just outside the North Western edge of the Catskill Park and legend has it that it was once a Ski resort back in the day. We parked at the end of the paved section of the southern side of Rt 3 near Fleischmanns. The parking is allowed in a very limited tight roadside area, this area is obvious to find as  every other tree seemed to be marked as “no parking” or “Keep Out”. We almost turned around as the area was still very active with hunters and we were not 100% clear if hiking was allowed on the non paved continuation of Rt 3. However after some rapid google fire we found that the state still had the right away up the road and into the State Forest and we had plenty of orange to wear. We hiked up passing many quad tracks and a super spooky and intimidating  hunting cabin with blacked out windows and a generator running. However once we got into the preserve it was clear that there were some great opportunities for skiing/snowboarding. We hiked up the old logging roads to the summit and found an awesome view point. From our perspective it looked like there were some opportunity for some super tight glades on the old grown in Ski trails. I strapped in and went down a short but steep drop off from the summit area and quickly found myself screaming down the snow cover logging road. I stopped about 250 feet down the road but could have easily kept going. My only caution is that the ruts from the ATVs made carving and checking speed pretty difficult.  The snow was thin but I believe later season snow pack and less motorized hunter travel will allow for some great mellow runs down the old logging roads and glades. After a few runs we turned around and started descending back to the car. Much of the old logging roads back to the car are steep enough and wide enough to comfortably ride and we quickly made it back to the car.

Overall Bearpen offered some fun mellow riding but looks to have some more potential on the North side of the mountain near Heissinger Road. I plan to head back soon and check out the potential on this side.  If your looking for any more info feel free to shoot me a PM on instagram @piotrowski1825.

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