Sunday, February 21, 2010

Belle Mountain

Okay, so after being jealous of the teenagers sledding in fast vessels last time, as soon as we heard the snow was coming big time, I went on another search for a sled. The first time, I went to Target, Toys R Us, and Sports Authority, and that's how we ended up with the saucer. This time I went to 2 ski shops, Dick's, Home Depot, Kmart, and a hardware store before deciding just to buy what I had in mind online. I found it and it took a little longer to get here than I had hoped, but now we have it. A Polar Flyer.
Jonathan suggested we find new places to sled, since schools are in session on weekdays so we can't go to those. I spent some time online, searching discussion boards and the like, and came up with a list of potential places. One of which was Belle Mountain, an old ski area in Mercer County, NJ. They were big in the 1960s and 1970s, and ended up closing in 1997 after several winters with very little snow. It's a small area, hardly even a mountain. It had 7 routes and 4 lifts (although two were tow ropes), but the longest run was only 1100 feet, so it was popular mostly with locals. Well, people go there to sled now, and some people bring snowboards and such for practice.

We didn't know precisely where we were going (there's no mailing address, parking lot, etc.), but we found the area very easily. We parked in a muddy area, since that's all that was around, then stepped over a chain next to a "have fun at your own risk" sign. (this is completely legal, don't get the wrong idea. A field trip even showed up as we were leaving.) There was one other person on the "mountain" so we had no problems waiting or dodging people.We had the flyer and the saucer, but the snow wasn't packed enough for the saucer to work (it just kept sinking). We walked up to the very top of what we think was the main hill (another day we'll explore more), and took turns with the flyer. We had a good time, but with the snow's quality deteriorating we experienced a few pitfalls. It definitely has great potential, and with the next snow we'll be back (which should be next week!). There are even lights for night sledding (that presumably still work since many people online mention they still go at night), so we can go after Jonathan gets home from work if we want.

The only downfall is that there's no good parking, and we struggled to get out of the mud as we were leaving (and we parked in the driest spot possible!). Hopefully we'll find a better plan next time.

If you're curious as to where this is (or if you've been to the area in its heyday!), it's near Lambertville, NJ. From Washington's Crossing, go North on 29/River Road about 4 miles, pass Pleasant Valley, then take a right onto Valley Road. It's on the right, you can't miss it.

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