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Exploring Denton Hill State Park’s Abandoned Ski Resort in Potter County

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I’ve visited a lot of abandoned places in Pennsylvania, but none are quite like the abandoned ski resort at Denton Hill State Park in Potter County. This is especially true because Denton Hill is essentially an entire state park that is, at the time of publication, largely abandoned but open for respectful exploration.

Denton Hill State Park is a 700-acre park that first opened to the public in 1959. Its primary use from its opening until 2014 was as a ski resort, first operated by the state, and then, from 1979 until 2014, operated by a private contractor.

After the 2014 season, Ski Denton was shut down when the contract for its operation ended, and it’s been largely abandoned since then. Multiple attempts have been made to get someone to run the site, but all have failed, including a recent bid period that ended in early 2023.

(October 2023 Update: A bid for operating the park was approved and there is hope that someday soon, Denton Hill will be operating again.)

Abandoned ski lifts hanging in the air at Denton Hill State Park near Coudersport, PA
Denton Hill State Park was once a popular skiing area.

However, as this is a state park, it is still open for visitors to explore, though this is getting harder each year as nature reclaims more of the land.

The entrance to Denton Hill State Park can be found a few miles east of Coudersport along Route 6, just across the road from the fabulous Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. Even the state park sign along the road is faded, which gives a great taste of what is to come.

The faded entrance sign along Route 6 for Denton Hill State Park in Potter County, PA
The entrance sign along Route 6 for Denton Hill State Park.

The large parking lot for the park can be found less than 200 yards from Route 6 and offers a bit of a look into how popular this place must have been at one time. Its cracked and potholed state also offers the first glimpse of the area’s abandonment.

There is one large building at Denton Hill State Park, and this was the ski lodge when the hills were open. Scattered around the lodge, you’ll see a handful of smaller structures, as well as ski lifts and the equipment needed to operate them.

All are sitting abandoned and deteriorating, waiting, hopefully not in vain, for someone to reopen the ski area.

The abandoned ski lodge at Denton Hill State Park in Potter County Pennsylvania
The ski lodge at Denton Hill State Park.

The ski lodge is a large two-story stone building and even though it’s locked and you shouldn’t enter the building, there are still interesting things to see from the outside.

On the lowest level facing the parking lot, there are still signs for the ski patrol and other information signs hanging in the building’s windows. These provide an interesting glimpse into what it was like when the facility was open.

Signs cover the door of the ski patrol area at the abandoned ski resort in Denton Hill State Park in Pennsylvania
There are many remnants of the ski area’s former life.

I also enjoyed looking in the windows and seeing some of the items left from the ski area’s heyday. 

Moving around to the upstairs area facing the mountain, I once again enjoyed staring into the building through the windows. A large stone fireplace sits in the middle of the room with a few wooded benches flanking it.

Looking through the windows, it felt almost like this ski area was simply closed for the season instead of having been closed for nearly a decade.

View through the windows of the stone fireplace at the Abandoned Ski Lodge in Denton Hill State Park near Coudersport, Pennsylvania
Peering through the windows into the upper floor of the ski lodge.

However, once I turned around and faced the hills and the rest of the equipment in Denton Hill State Park, the state of abandonment came back into view.

While it seemed that the park is still being somewhat maintained since the grass around the building was relatively short and obviously had been cut, the grass away from the building was quite high during my mid-July visit.

Abandoned ski lift in Denton Hill State Park surrounded by tall grass and bushes
The abandoned ski lifts are surrounded by tall grass in the summertime.

Unfortunately, because I wanted to avoid ticks and snakes in the tall grass, I wasn’t able to get a close look at most of the ski lifts. Still, they were quite interesting to view from afar, and it was really interesting to see the lift chairs still dangling high up the mountain.

I certainly want to visit again sometime when the grass is a lot shorter so I can take a closer look at these interesting pieces of the park’s history.

Those looking for even more adventure can go hiking within the park, including directly up the ski slopes if you so desire. The park’s map lists eight miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails within the park, but I wasn’t able to find the trailhead during my visit, so it’s likely that these trails aren’t well marked at this point and may also be overgrown during the summer months.

Abandoned ski slope at Denton Hill State Park in Potter County PA
One of the abandoned ski slopes.

Still, for those willing to go for an adventure, you can do some challenging hiking here, including walking directly up some of the steepest ski slopes in the eastern United States should you so desire.

It’s also worth noting that, the park’s trails connect to the Susquehannock Trail System, an 85-mile loop through the Pennsylvania Wilds, which gives you a variety of hiking options from the park or even an alternate way to visit it.

Abandoned ski lift at Denton Hill State Park near Coudersport PA
Another abandoned ski lift in the park.

Overall, I found the abandoned ski resort at Denton Hill State Park in Potter County to be really fascinating to explore. While tall grass does make it a bit more difficult to explore than some other sites, such as the nearby ruins of Austin Dam, it’s really interesting to explore even if you just stick to the paved areas and the area around the old lodge.

It’s hard to say what the future holds for Denton Hill State Park or whether the ski hill will open anytime soon. However, in the meantime, I still definitely recommend checking out this park if you find yourself in the area and enjoy abandoned places in PA.

Denton Hill State Park can be found at the following coordinates: 41.777928, -77.827900. You can also use the address for the PA Lumber Museum, which sits directly across Route 6 from the park’s entrance: 5660 US-6 W, Ulysses, PA 16948.

Looking for more places to visit nearby? Check out the Coudersport Ice Mine, Cherry Springs State Park, and the Triple Continental Divide.


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2 thoughts on “Exploring Denton Hill State Park’s Abandoned Ski Resort in Potter County”

  1. We stopped by Denton in July, 2019 and were surprised to see an archery convention going on. As near as I could tell, the convention was for archers that don’t use compound bows. At that time, the ski lodge was open and I was able to take all of the photos that I wanted. Within that building, the conventioneers were using the kitchen and the restrooms were open. It was nice to see the park getting some real use, as the parking lot was almost full and folks were usinmg the vast open areas for practice shooting, for sliding down the hills on cardboard and other activities.

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