Neighborhood Gems: Hidden Valley
Skiers and snowboarders glide down powder-covered hills, and tiny tots take their first run down a gentle bunny hill while families sip hot chocolate in a nearby lodge. No, it’s not Colorado. This scene actually can be found at Hidden Valley Ski Resort, located on the bluffs above the Meramec River, just off Highway 109 in Wildwood.
Snow sports probably aren’t top-of-mind when considering what Missouri has to offer, but Hidden Valley draws crowds from all over. “We’re one of only two ski resorts in the state—our sister resort is near Kansas City,” says general manager Bill Brandes. “People come from not only the St. Louis metropolitan area, but also from the southern states. They’ll come out here to learn to ski or sharpen their skills, then go to Colorado or Utah where they can experience the longer slopes and terrain runs.”
The resort opened its doors in 1982 and since then has steadily increased its operating area and improved its snow-making processes. With a lift elevation of 860 feet, the resort offers more than 60 acres of terrain, including trails for all levels, chair lifts and two terrain parks for expert boarders and skiers. “In the last several years, our owners have invested several million dollars to improve the area,” Brandes says. “We’ve enlarged the resort and many of our additions offer more advanced terrain.”
One of the newest additions to the resort is Polar Plunge, a 1,200-foot hill for snow tubing, which has less of a learning curve than skiing or snowboarding. “Close to 26,000 people enjoyed the Polar Plunge last season,” Brandes says. “If you’ve got a good pair of outdoor boots and waterproof gloves, you can tube in almost any type of clothing that keeps you warm. You don’t have to be an expert to experience it.”
To ensure Hidden Valley’s trails are always covered in powder—and because we all know how unpredictable winter can be in St. Louis—the resort creates its own snow with machines that can process up to 5,000 gallons of water per minute. Over the decades, the resort has increased its snow machines from eight to more than 100, Brandes says.
Besides newbies looking to get a taste of the slopes, Hidden Valley also has been the training ground for real pros. Abigail Murer, a St. Louis native who got her start at the resort, raced on the Hidden Valley Ski Team for six years and is a four-time Junior Olympian. Last year, she earned one of only two spots for U-18 girls at the U.S. National Championships, winning the first-ever two-run women’s downhill.
WHERE » 17409 Hidden Valley Drive, Wildwood
WHEN » Open seasonally, as weather permits
WHY » To ski, snowboard or tube down the resort’s many hills
Photo Courtesy of Hidden Valley Ski Resort