BEEKMANTOWN Described as "a great little ski area" with "plenty of terrific terrain for beginners, families, etc." by
, Beartown Ski Area has been a North Country treasure since it first opened in 1958. To celebrate this near 50-year landmark, Beartown will host an open house with free skiing, snowboarding and other entertainment Sunday, Dec. 23. The ski area was suggested as a project by the Council of Community Services, a non-profit organization that works to "enhance the quality of life in New York State." Through the years, the ski area has expanded and made improvements, including the half-pipe for snowboarders. Keeping true to its origin, Beartown is still run as a not-for-profit and is owned and operated by its members through a volunteer board of directors. Last year, the warm temperatures and lack of snow cover through December and January prevented Beartown from opening. With the heavy snowfall and cold temperatures this December, however, the ski season is shaping up to be a good one. That's good news to local skiers. According to some regulars, the family-oriented environment makes it the ideal place for youngsters learning to ski. Plus, as one regular put it, "You always know you'll see friends there." Beartown features 25 skiable acres, two lifts, a half-pipe for snowboarding, lighted trail for night skiing, plus six kilometers of cross country ski and snowshoe trails. Lessons are also available, along with a professionally coached children's ski team. For apr_ski, visitors can relax next to the fireplace in the lodge, or enjoy a homemade breakfast, lunch or snack. For the 2007-2008 season, full-day tickets run $16 for adults or $14 for seniors and students. Half-day tickets, season passes, and member discounts are also available. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays, holidays and school breaks; and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Fridays. For more information, call Beartown Ski Area at 561-3938.