Tag Archives: somerset

How not to get to Seven Springs Mountain Resort

In this technological age, many of us turn to MapQuest, Google Maps or our GPS devices to get directions when traveling to a new destination. If Seven Springs Resort is your destination, and you are driving from the east (via Somerset) drop the technology because MapQuest and GPS’s direct you the shortest way to the Springs but that route is certainly not  the best one.logo for Seven Springs Mountain Resort

In all fairness, I must point out that both Google and MapQuest show the correct route as a secondary choice. However, who among us chooses the alternate route over the primary one unless we have a specific reason? Well, I’m about to give you several reasons.

All listed routes will get you from the exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike through the town of Somerset. Simply go straight after exiting the toll booth until you come to the first STOP light. (Ignore the FLASHING light unless you choose to stop at McDonald’s for a Big Mac.) At the light, make a RIGHT onto N. Center Avenue (RT 601 S) and proceed .5 miles to the intersection of Main St. (RT 31 W). Make a RIGHT on Main St. Here’s where they go wrong, and we’ll follow the route just to show you how bad it really is.

Harrison Ave Somerset PA

The poorly marked turn onto Harrison Avenue from Main St

After turning right onto Main St., both Google and MapQuest direct you to proceed .7 miles and make a left on to Harrison Ave. The left turn onto Harrison Ave is often missed because there is no sign to mark it. If you’re paying attention you will see several signs for RT 281 south, but there is nothing with the name Harrison on it. If you decide to follow this route in spite of what I recommend, make sure you’re in the left lane long before you get to the intersection or you may get cut off from doing so. Following this route, after turning onto Harrison Ave, you will take the first RIGHT onto Tayman Ave. (RT 281 south). Keep a close eye on your odometer, especially if you’re following the Google route, or you’ll miss the next turn.

 

 
The wind blown Weimer Flats on RT 281 south of Somerset

The wind blown Weimer Flats on RT 281 south of Somerset

Several miles outside of Somerset you’ll come across a straight stretch of road called Weimer Flats. If your trip to Seven Springs is in the winter, Weimer Flats alone is a good enough reason not to take this route. Weimer Flats in the winter can be one of the most vicious, wind-swept sections of road in all of Somerset County, and other sections of RT 281 S can be nearly as bad. Even with minor snowfall, white outs, drifting snow and accidents are common along Weimer Flats and other sections of this route.

If you are following the Google route, 5.6 miles after turning onto RT 281 S you will make a RIGHT on Cross Road. Never mind the fact that there is a sign directing you to keep going straight to get to Seven Springs. After all, are you going to believe your lying eyes or the omnipotent Google? If you’re following the MapQuest route you will NOT turn onto Cross Rd, but will continue another mile to the village of New Centerville and make a right onto Copper Kettle Highway.

New Centerville, PA

The turn onto Copper Kettle Highway in New Centerville

About 100 yards before the intersection there is a sign for Seven Springs indicating the turn. This sign is often missed and there is no sign at the intersection itself. In fact, this turn is so easy to miss that 3 miles further south on RT 281 you’ll find a gas station, the New Lexington Market, that actually posts directions to Seven Springs outside for all of the people who missed the turn.

New Lexington Market on RT 281 S

If you see the New Lexington Market, you missed the turn.

The Google route now directs you to proceed 1.5 miles to State Route 3029. SR 3029 is actually Copper Kettle Highway so at this point the Google and MapQuest routes are the same. State Routes are not well-marked, so after you have turned onto Cross Rd the directions should say “proceed 1.5 miles to the first stop sign and turn right”. Copper Kettle Highway (SR 3029) will turn into County Line Road in 1.9 miles, if you’re following Google, or 4.1 miles using the MapQuest route. Continue on County Line Rd for 4.1 miles and you will come to the entrance to Seven Springs on your left.

Now, for the best route we go back to the point where both Google and MapQuest direct you to turn left onto Harrison Ave (RT 281 S). When you’re on Main St (RT 31 W) stay in the RIGHT lane and instead of turn onto Harrison Ave, keep going straight on RT 31 W and continue for 7.1 miles. A large Seven Springs sign will direct you to turn LEFT onto Trent Rd.

Trent Road to Seven Springs Resort

The well marked turn onto Trent Road from RT 31

Proceed 3.8 miles to the first STOP sign and turn right onto Copper Kettle Highway. In 1.1 miles Copper Kettle Highway turns into County Line Rd. Proceed 4.1 miles to the entrance of Seven Springs on your left. This well-marked route is only about half a mile longer than the MapQuest or Google routes and offers several other advantages. For winter travelers, road condition is probably the most important reason to take the RT 31 route over that via RT 281. RT 31 is not nearly as wind-swept, so white outs and drifting snow is not nearly as big of a problem. Services are another reason to take the 31 route. If you follow the Google route, there will not be even one gas station or store until you reach the bump in the road at Trent which has a very small convenience store. The MapQuest route is only slightly better with New Centerville offering a pizza shop, one restaurant and one additional convenience store. The 31 route offers numerous services including gas stations, a major grocery store, several convenience stores, a beer distributor and a bar that serves great pizza. In addition, you have Moo Echo Dairy, a great country store which makes cheese, ice cream, fresh-baked goods and a wide range of deli products. And perhaps most importantly is Route 31 Bike, Board and Ski, the area’s largest and most experienced  outdoor sports retailer. If you need your skis or snowboard waxed or serviced or if you need equipment rentals, this is the place to stop. The retail store offers everything you’ll need on the mountain including: Oakley goggles and sunglasses, Under Armour base layers and outerwear, and top winter sports brands like Burton, Fisher and Solomon. And finally, in the event I wasn’t clear enough, the Google and MapQuest routes are very poorly marked compared to the 31 route. So, unless you know the turns, it’s not snowing and you’re sure you don’t need to purchase anything, go ahead and follow the “short” route. Otherwise, I suggest you follow the alternate route via RT 31 W.

Route 31 Bike, Board & Ski, Somerset PA

Route 31 Bike, Board & Ski, Somerset PA

Baileys 219

Wing Wars: Baileys Circle 219

Despite hearing numerous bad reports about Bailey’s Circle 219, I decided to check out their wing night, which had been advertised for Tuesdays. I arrived about 4:45 to find the restaurant closed. The only signs visible were a For Sale sign out front and the original Circle 219 sign was laying in the weeds behind the restaurant. They didn’t even have hours listed on the door, so naturally I assumed Bailey’s had gone out of business and I headed off to another bar. A short time later, I was driving by Bailey’s again and noticed a car in the lot and a lighted beer sign in the window, so I stopped. They were open, but barely, with only one other patron at the bar. The tap head in front of me had no handles on it and the bartender confirmed that they indeed had no draft beer. I opted for a Labatt Blue in a bottle and requested menu. The ratty single sheet of paper arrived and I was informed they were offering only a limited menu that evening and that although it was wing night, they had no wings. Since it appeared the highlight of my evening would be the rubber ducks in the vintage Crane urinal, I declined to order and simply left. As a rule, I rarely return to a restaurant after a bad experience, but in this case I had a feeling the trip may have been an anomaly. I arrived for the second attempt at about 6:30 PM the following Tuesday, and again there was only one other customer in the bar. This time the bartender was the owner, so I anticipated a better experience. There was still no draft beer, so once again I settled for a bottle of Labatt Blue. I also noticed they were once again using bagged ice, so we have a bar here with no draft beer and no ice machine. Instead of the pleasant smell of food cooking, I was assaulted by the overpowering scent of Lysol. The owner spent the entire time smoking cigarettes and talking to the lone customer in the bar, and having her back turned to me, never noticed when I drained my first beer.Baileys 219 sign I’m not a smoking Nazi, but it’s considered bad food handling practice for a server to smoke or eat while working. I requested a menu and once again received a single ratty computer generated sheet, although this time it was larger. The wings were available this time and I was informed that on wing nights there was no minimum order required. I wasn’t very hungry, so I ordered three Butter & Old Bay and three Sweet & Hot, passing on the included veggies. It turns out the owner was also the cook, so she disappeared into the kitchen to prepare the wings. I was thankful I had received another beer before she left so that I wasn’t sitting there with nothing while she was gone. The wings arrived in a reasonable amount of time and I started on the Old Bay first. The single section wings were badly overcooked and reeked of stale oil, but the seasoning was surprisingly good. Most of the dry rub wings I’ve had in other restaurants were nearly inedible due to an over abundance of seasoning, but these were properly seasoned. The Sweet & Hot sauce was even better, with a depth of flavor rare in wing sauces. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the ingredient which gave it the depth but it brought to mind Bourbon. I would love to eat this sauce on a properly cooked wing as it was easily one of the best I’ve eaten. This bar appears to be on its last legs, so I suggest calling ahead if you’re planning on visiting to make sure they’re still in business. However, you’ll have a better experience at just about any other bar in the area.

THE RATING

Cooking:The wings were over cooked and tasted of stale oil. 3

Varieties:14 varieties is above average and the 2 I ate were quite good. 7

Value:$.50 each with veggies and dressing is a decent price but not great, especially considering the quality of the wings. 5

Enjoyment:Lysol smell, no draft beer, sitcoms on TV and poorly cooked wings doesn’t make for a great evening. 3

OVERALL: 4.5

 

NOTE: Bailey’s Circle is now permanently closed for business.
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