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Despite 10” of natural snow falling on the slopes last week, Seven Springs Mountain Resort is not quite ready to open for skiing.

“It’s too bad, but we feel we don’t have enough snow to open yet. With social distancing, we’re not comfortable opening with just two lifts and three trails … we need more available skiing terrain,” said resort marketing director Alex Moser.

Specific opening dates are not set for Seven Springs or nearby Hidden Valley — both in Somerset County — or Laurel Mountain in Westmoreland County. Moser said both Seven Springs and Hidden Valley are expected to open “in mid-December.” Snow guns were active at both of those resorts Tuesday and Wednesday.

Although temperatures were in the 40s Friday, they are supposed to dip back into the 30s over the weekend and the snow guns will again be activated.

Laurel Mountain in Ligonier Township does not usually open until Christmas week.

“I can tell you that interest in skiing is really high,” Moser said. “We haven’t seen our website this active since 2012 and our season pass sales are already way ahead of last year. People are looking to get out and find an outdoor activity.

“Now more than ever, we recognize that outdoor recreation and family adventures are an important part of a healthy lifestyle and we will be doing everything we can to keep our guests and our staff safe and healthy this winter.”

Changes are in place in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

A large sign outside the entrance gate at Seven Springs reads “NO MASK NO SERVICE,” noting the resort is complying with Pennsylvania Department of Health Guidelines.

The resort website notes masks are mandatory including while waiting in line for a chair lift and on the lifts, and inside, except while eating or drinking.

Guests will still be asked to load in groups, however staff will not ask guests to form groups with others. If a guest requests to sit alone, staff will allow that person to ride separately.

Also, guests will be required to maintain 6-foot spacing in lift lines, with side distancing achieved through ghost lanes when possible.

Moser noted this year the resort has expanded its “no-touch” services. Skiers can pre-purchase lift tickets via cell phones or computer. Also, visitors can present mobile purchase bar codes to the toll booth attendant at the main or North Gate entrances to receive their tickets.

Due to 50 percent restaurant capacity guidelines, the resort has created multiple new walk-up and take-out windows, Moser said. Restaurant reservations can be made by phone.

Boyce Park

Allegheny County’s Boyce Park Park in Plum is continuing preparations for its opening, according to parks spokesman Kevin Evanto.

“We plan on opening this year, but we need consistently cold temperatures – especially at night – in order to start making snow. We will have restrictions and operational changes in effect due to the pandemic, including a face-covering requirement, as well as limitations on the number of skiers and boarders in order to promote distancing,” he said.

Boyce will also reduce the the number of tubers for the same reason, he said.

Lift tickets and tubing tickets will be sold online, but the county will not be selling season passes this year.

Evanto said the parks department will make an announcement of its specific opening plan in a few weeks.

Details are available at 7springs.com, www.hiddenvalley.com/winter-operations-plan, www.laurelmountainski.com and www.alleghenycounty.us/parks/activities/winter-sports/skiing-and-snowboarding.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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