The Hidden Valley Club

The base lodge features balcony seating.

The base lodge features balcony seating.

The base lodge features balcony seating.

Parents get a full view of the base area from the windows of the Hidden Valley lodge.

You would never confuse the Hidden Valley Club with Aspen or Killington. But then again, neither of those ski resorts is within an hour’s drive of New Jersey’s biggest population centers.

The folks who run Hidden Valley make no claims of being a major resort. Their aspiration for Hidden Valley, located in the Sussex County town of Vernon, is simply to offer a great place for wintertime family fun. “Our whole idea here is for families to ski together and grow,” says Andrea Grund, who lives in nearby Newton and is one of the mountain’s four managing partners.

The owners are fostering that family-friendly environment by offering private memberships. Hidden Valley is open to the public, but club members get special perks, including unlimited skiing for the entire family, preferred parking, overnight ski storage, ski valet service, priority lift access and complimentary après-ski activities.

For any parent who has ever fumbled with an armful of skis on a frigid day, the idea of a ski valet should seem particularly attractive. “The valet can take your skis off your car and place them on a rack for you on the way to the lifts,” explains managing partner Chris Moore. “At the end of the day, we bring them in and lock them up.”

Club membership is a new concept for Hidden Valley, which was founded as a ski area in 1975. The mountain had fallen on hard times when Grund and her partners acquired it in 2007 with an eye toward revitalizing an underused recreational resource. Since the acquisition, the new partners have put more than $1.5 million into base lodge renovations, enhanced snowmaking equipment and improved lighting for night skiing.

Snowmaking now covers all of Hidden Valley’s 14 trails. The terrain is evenly split among beginner, intermediate and expert runs. Don’t let the address (44 Breakneck Road) fool you: This is a small mountain—the peak elevation is only 1,435 feet—and advanced skiers won’t find much to challenge them here (although the mountain is home to the New Jersey High School Ski Racing Championships). But families will appreciate the Ski Wee program for kids, the secure environment and the wide-open view of most of the mountain from the warmth of the base lodge restaurant.

The initial fee for a Hidden Valley Club membership is $5,500. Annual dues for subsequent seasons vary based on family size; a family of four pays $1,975. For non-members, a one-day weekend pass is $52 for adults and $42 for juniors. Weekdays are $25 for all. There also are half-day and twilight rates, as well as rental and learn-to-ski packages. For information, call 973-764-4200 or visit

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