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Boyce Park, PA

On the popular tubing slope at Boyce Park. Photos courtesy Boyce Park.

At first glance, Boyce Park seems like your average county park with tennis courts, an archery range and a wave pool. But what makes Boyce special is that it’s the only location for downhill skiing and snowboarding in Allegheny County – only 10 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.

Weather permitting (check first), Boyce boasts a ski slope ideal for beginners. The gentle slope is sure to give beginners the confidence to grab a pair of skis or a snowboard and finally take that trip up the slope.

“You can learn to ski here for dirt cheap,” says Tom Mettrick, who manages the slopes and has worked for the County Parks for nearly 30 years. “So many people will go miles away (from the city) to ski while everything’s right here.”

Tom is right. The slopes have everything you need including ski rentals, affordable lessons and lockers – some for only a quarter. There is a large snack bar on the first floor of the old stone lodge that allows parents to sip hot chocolate indoors while watching their kids learn to ski or slide down the hill in a snow tube.

The tubing area was added to the slopes a few years ago and has proved to be a popular attraction. A quick trip up the Magic Carpet conveyor lift, and back down you go. The runs are 800 feet long and sessions last three hours. The slope can get crowded on the weekends, so Tom recommends tubing on the weekdays if possible.

But these slopes aren’t just for kids and families; Boyce has steeper slopes for the more experienced skiers. To the right of the beginner’s slope are more challenging slopes like Pine Valley, Adam’s Run, Alpine and Avalanche. With a vertical drop of 160 feet, these slopes are short and sweet – ideal for a fun day or night out; slopes are open until 10:30 p.m.

Where it’s at: About 10 miles east of Pittsburgh; from I-376, take exit 14B and turn north, merging with Orange Belt. Follow Orange Belt 2 miles to the entrance to Boyce Park on the right.

Contact: www.skyboycepark.com, or (724)-733-4665

Digs: A bunch of chain hotels are within a few miles from Boyce Park, click here for a list

Grub: Try the wedding soup at John Anthony’s restaurant, less than five minutes from Boyce, (412) 795-8666‎

Gear and Outfitting: Peak Ski & Snowboard Center is a half mile from Boyce Park, www.peakskiandboard.com, or (412) 793-6600

Cost: Slope fees are $4-$14, lessons $10-$20/hour, snow tubing sessions $4-$12, rentals $10-$25