ULYSSES, Pa. — Denton Hill State Park in Potter County may once again welcome skiers and snowboarders to its slopes.
In fact, the plan is to develop activities to bring visitors to the Potter County state park all year round, state Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, said.
Causer and state Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro, met earlier this month with officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to get an update on plans for the park. Owlett’s legislative district includes a portion of Potter County that encompasses the borough of Galeton, which is east of the state park.
“This project as a whole is moving way slower that it should,” said Causer.
Denton Hill, which rises above U.S. Route 6 between Coudersport and Galeton, was once known for its downhill skiing and boarding. Operated as Ski Denton, the site had a remote, rustic feel and often featured shorter waits at the lift line than larger ski areas that are closer to larger population centers.
Ski Denton also opened its slopes and trails for mountain bikers in the off season, while there is also access to cross-country ski and hiking trails. Part of the Susquehannock Trail System, an 85-mile loop hiking trail, forms the southern boundary of the 700-acre state park.
The ski area facilities were also the site of summer and fall events.
Skiing ended in 2014 when the concessionaire stopped operating at Denton Hill. Talks began at that time on how skiing could be brought back.
Causer said the meeting was organized with the DCNR to ensure that the project doesn’t stall.
“We want to keep moving it forward,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of interest in this project. ... We hear from a lot of constituents that want to know what’s going on with it.”
Causer said that, according to the DCNR, the agency is looking to develop a public/private partnership and is “in the final stages of getting ready to solicit a concessionaire” to run the ski area.
Once a concessionaire is chosen, the next step will be the design phase of improvements to the park. He said the plan includes using $12 million from the state’s capital budget for improvements such as new equipment and facility updates. Construction will follow the design phase.
Causer referred to a master plan that was developed a few years ago outlining Denton Hill’s future. It included not only the goal of getting the skiing operation back up, “but also to turn the facility into a four-season operation.” He explained the plan’s developers felt the only way it was “really going to be successful is to have events there all year.”
He did not have details on what other new activities might be on the table and said it will likely depend on what the concessionaire wants to do.
“They’re looking to be creative” in developing ideas for other events and activities for the spring, summer and fall months. Causer noted Denton Hill at one time hosted an archery festival.
When asked if the DCNR might be looking for ideas from the public on how the park could be used, he said the department collected ideas at previous public meetings when the master plan was in development. However, he added, “It’s a state park, so they’re always interested in public input.”
With so many people looking at ways to enjoy time outdoors due to the pandemic, now could be a perfect time to develop the park.
“People are looking for recreational activities in rural Pennsylvania. I think this is an opportunity,” said Causer.
But continuing effort is important if the plan is to succeed.
“Momentum to keep the project moving forward is key, and that’s why I’ll keep working with DCNR officials to see that the project keeps moving forward,” said Causer. “It’s a major investment, but it’s an investment in a state park that I think is worthwhile.”