Where to ski or snowboard within an easy drive of Baltimore this winter
By Stephanie Citron
For The Baltimore Sun|
Dec 21, 2016 | 3:24 PM
Now that winter has officially arrived, grab your skis, board or snowshoes: We've rounded up the region's great ski resorts within a four-hour drive.
The definition of "good snow" is subjective, depending upon your preferred downhill mode of transport. We based our picks on mountain size, trails, terrain and variety of activities, including tubing, night skiing and lessons. Many offer discounted deals: For example, to entice newbies to the slopes, Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association's First-Time Ski/Snowboard package ($49) includes a beginner lift ticket, group lesson and equipment at 18 resorts (It must be booked by Dec, 30, but can be used any time during the season).
Each of the resorts offers something different. To find your perfect powder, check out the listings.
Distance from Baltimore: 169 miles, about three hours.
Trails: five beginner, 10 intermediate, four advanced intermediate, seven advanced, seven expert, plus a terrain park and a tubing park.
Night skiing: 17 trails are lit.
Why ski here: With a 3,146-foot summit and vertical drop of 1,072 feet, Blue Knob is home to Pennsylvania's longest run — two miles. Skilled skiers love the slopes laden with glades. There are over 6 miles of Nordic skiing trails. The resort is constructing a new tube park, which will open later in the season. Blue Knob's main ski lodge, housing its rental shop, restaurants and ski school, is atop the mountain, high in the Alleghenies.
Events: Annual Big Air Contest (Feb. 25); Beer Goddess Parade and Pond Skim (March 11).
Why ski here: Perched above the Appalachian Trail in the Kittatinny Mountains, Blue Mountain boasts the highest vertical drop of Pennsylvania's ski areas: 1,082 feet. It is one of 25 resorts in the country offering Terrain Based Learning, a curriculum that teaches positioning and movement, and has just added a third tier to the program. Each terrain park is dedicated to a particular skill set; atop Vista Trail is Big Airbag, professional-level cushions for practicing stunts. Blue Mountain has the only tubing park in the Poconos offering family tubes. At Ridgely's Fun Park, young children learn snowshoeing. New this year are a lumber yard that recycles fallen slopeside trees into park features and the Beginner Shred Pack: three lessons, three school-hill lift tickets and three rentals for $199.
Distance from Baltimore: 195 miles, about three hours, 15 minutes
Trails: 11 beginner, 11 intermediate, seven advanced, one expert; plus four terrain parks, a halfpipe and 42 tubing lanes.
Night skiing: 100 percent.
Why ski here: Because of its less severe expert trails, 160 skiable acres and 800-vertical-foot drop, Camelback is considered an ideal family resort. It has earned the Conversion Cup from the National Ski Area Association for its beginner programs and Terrain Based Learning programs. It is home to the largest snow-tubing park in the country, and this year has added laser-lit lanes and an LED lightshow. Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, one of the largest in the U.S., provides respite for non-skiing kids.
Events: Live music and activities every weekend; special ski days dedicated to various charities.
Rates: Open-to-close tickets from $45/youth, $53/seniors; some packages include tubing and the waterpark.
Canaan Valley Resort
230 Main Lodge Road, Davis, W. Va. canaanresort.com.
Distance from Baltimore: 212 miles; three hours, 40 minutes.
Trails: 10 beginner, 17 intermediate and 20 advanced; plus a terrain park, tubing park and ski school.
Night skiing: 14 trails during holiday periods: Dec. 26-31, Jan. 13-15 and Feb. 17-19.
Why ski here: With a 4,280-foot summit and an 850-foot vertical drop, Canaan has 91 skiable acres. Its longest run, Timber Trail, is 1¼ miles long. The resort offers glade skiing, airboarding (inflatable boogie-boards on the snow) and outdoor ice skating, and claims the longest (1,200-foot) tubing park in the Mid-Atlantic. New this year are the "out-of-bounds" cross-country ski trail, $70,000 in new rental skis, boards, and skates, and a snowmaking capacity that's doubled from 2015.
Events: Wild Thing Weekend (March 4-5), featuring pond jump, saucer race, frozen T-shirt contest and live entertainment.
Rates: Day (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) rates from $27/children and seniors, $45/adult. Packages available on the website.
Liberty Mountain Resort
78 Country Club Trail, Carroll Valley, Pa. libertymountainresort.com.
Distance from Baltimore: 63 miles, about 1½ hours.
Trails: four beginner, six intermediate, three expert, three advanced expert; plus three terrain parks, 16 tubing lanes.
Night skiing: 100 percent.
Why ski here: 100 skiable acres upon a 1,190-foot elevation, with 620-foot vertical drop, Liberty is known for its learning programs: Boulder Ridge (tubing), Ski and Snowboard Schools and Children's Learning Center. New this year is an ice-skating rink and Volkl rental skis and Dalbello boots.
Events: Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge (Feb. 25): race open to all skiers and boarders, with prizes, swag and victory party.
Rates*: Four- and eight-hour flex passes, from $50/child, $56/adult. Many packages.
* Liberty Mountain Resort, Roundtop and Whitetail Resort are all managed by Snow Time Inc. Discount cards and season passes are transferable among the three resorts.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort
777 Waterwheel Drive, Seven Springs, Pa. 7springs.com.
Distance from Baltimore: 196 miles; three hours, 17 minutes.
Trails: 10 beginner, 15 intermediate, two expert, six advanced expert; plus four glades trails, seven terrain parks, an Olympic-size superpipe, 11 tubing lanes.
Night skiing: 80 percent (all except the back-of-mountain slopes)
Why ski here: This is Pennsylvania's largest ski resort and home to the state's first uphill skiing trails (traversing to the summit on skis). The Terrain Park program has been recognized among top Parks and Pipes on the East Coast, and hosts many free-skiers' and snowboarders' finals competitions. Other winter activities include glade runs, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
Events: Oakley Mini-Pipe Challenge (Feb. 25), U.S. Revolution Tour (March 7-8) and the Burton Qualifiers (March 18).
Rates: 9 a.m.-9 p.m., from $52/child and $64/adult
Trails: five beginner, six intermediate, six advanced, six expert; plus two terrain parks, 14 tubing lanes.
Night skiing: 100 percent.
Why ski here: This 1,335-foot elevation resort with a 600-foot vertical drop and 103 acres of skiable terrain has a family-friendly vibe and maneuverable trails. The Learn to Ski and Snowboard program was rated No. 1 in the country by the National Ski Area Association. New this year is expanded, regraded terrain.
Events: Grom Series (Jan. 28, Feb. 11 and 25, March 4): Freestyle terrain park event for young skiers and riders; Vertical Challenge (Feb. 24): family-friendly race fest for skiers and boarders, and Pond Skimming Contest (March 22), with skiers donning bikinis and costumes.
Rates*: Four- and eight-hour flex tickets from $47/youth and $55/adult. Many packages available.
254 Four Seasons Drive, Davis, W. Va. timberlineresort.com.
Distance from Baltimore: 211 miles; three hours, 45 minutes.
Trails: 16 beginner, nine intermediate, seven advanced, seven expert, plus two terrain parks and 31 acres of glade skiing.
Night skiing: Nine trails.
Why ski here: Top-four-ranked glade skiing in the East. The 2-mile long Salamander Run is longest trail in the Southeast. A top-rated ski school with specialty adaptive instructors. Timberline's 4,268 elevation (with a 1,000-foot vertical drop) — claimed the highest south of New England — collects average annual snowfall of 180".
Rates: All day (8 a.m.-9 p.m.) from $74/adult, $53/child. $199/Family of Four Pack: Four 1-day passes and ski rentals for nonholiday weeks only. (Input Baltsun! code at online checkout).
13805 Blairs Valley Road, Mercersburg, Pa. skiwitetail.com
Distance from Baltimore: 92 miles; one hour, 30 minutes.
Trails: Seven beginner, 11 intermediate, five expert; plus a halfpipe, two terrain parks and a tubing park.
Night skiing: 100 percent.
Why ski here: The largest of the three Snow Time Inc. resorts offers 1,800-foot elevation with a 935-foot vertical drop. Whitetail claims to be "the newest (1991) resort on this side of the Mississippi" and "home to southeast PA's only High Speed Quad chairlift." New this year are expanded technical challenges at the Jib Junction terrain park and three new restaurants.
Events: Host to Rail Jam (Jan. 29). Turn and Burn Snowcross (Feb. 5) and Special Olympics of Maryland Winter Games (Feb. 27 and 28).
Rates: Eight-hour flex passes from $55/youth, $64/adult. Other passes and discounts on website.
39 Mountain Inn Loop, Roseland, Va. wintergreenresort.com.
Distance from Baltimore: 219 miles, about 3½ hours.
Trails: Six beginner, four intermediate, 14 advanced; plus two terrain parks, snowtubing park.
Night skiing: 14 trails.
Why ski here: 129 skiable acres along the Blue Ridge Mountains, with a vertical drop of more than 1,000 feet. Wintergreen boasts the largest tubing park in Virginia, featuring eight lanes, 900-foot chutes and a 100-foot vertical drop. Wintergreen's adaptive sports program provides lessons to guests with disabilities.
Events: USASA ski and snowboard events, rail jams and slopestyles competitions throughout the season.
Rates: Eight-hour passes from $55/adult, $49/youth/senior. Packages on website.
296 Marsh Hill Road, McHenry, Garrett County. wispresort.com.
Distance from Baltimore: 182 miles; two hours, 52 minutes.
Night skiing: 90 percent.
Trails: Nine beginner, 14 intermediate, 11 expert over 172 acres; plus three terrain parks and 12 snow tubeshoots served by two conveyor carpets.
Why ski here: At 3,115 feet high with a 700-foot vertical drop and 132 skiable acres, Wisp also has a Nordic Ski Center featuring about 25 miles of terrain for cross country and snowshoeing, NASTAR racing for the general public, a Mountain Coaster and an outdoor ice skating rink. New this year is Wisp's rebranded lodge, a Rossignol Concept Shop with demo equipment and apparel, new rental equipment and updated snowmaking equipment.
Events: BlackStrap Rail Jam Series Jan. 14, Feb. 14 and March 4. Subaru Winterfest (Jan. 28-29) with music, giveaways and more on the slopes.