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Skiing near DC area in Jan?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I will be in Washington DC in January for a business trip and I was looking to get a day of east coast skiing in before I head back west.  I am willing to drive a few hours if needed.  I was thinking Liberty or Whitetail but I don't know the area at all and I'd appreciate any suggestions or tips to make it a good day (or night if available).  I'd bring my boots on the plane but I'd need a place with some decent rental options for skis.

post #2 of 28

With DC skiing, the skiing gets more interesting the further you drive from DC.  Liberty and Whitetail are the closest ski areas to DC and they are good day trip areas.  Liberty has some nice intermediate terrain on the backside of the mountain and a couple of extremely short (you really don't even need to make a turn) expert slopes on the back as well.  Whitetail is the bigger of the two mountains with almost 1000 ft vertical.  It has a high speed quad servicing it's intermediate terrain and the expert terrain is off to it's side and the feeder trail to get to the expert terrain is steep enough to discourage most who shouldn't be on that terrain away. Most of the expert terrain at Whitetail would be blue terrain out West, but it is fun skiing.  The ski shops at Whitetail and Liberty do rent demo skis, but the pricing is in 2 hour increments, so can get expensive to rent demo skis from them.  Regular rentals will be basic shaped skis as most of their rental customers are beginners or low intermediate skiers.  I do ski several times a year at Liberty and Whitetail and will be glad to answer any further questions you have about either of them.

 

If you are willing to drive between 3 to 4 hours from DC your options of places to ski really open up.  Wisp, Blue Knob and Timberline are great ski areas in the 3 to 4 hour range from DC.  Blue Knob and Timberline both have 1000 Ft vertical and some really nice expert terrain.  Personally I give Blue Knob the edge in expert and interesting terrain when snow conditions are good.  If snow conditions aren't good, you will have better luck at Timberline.   Timberline and Blue Knob are favorites of a lot of the Mid Atlantic Epicski crowd.  I'm not sure what the rental skis are like at Blue Knob.  There is a store called the Ski Barn near the Timberline entrance that has a decent rental ski selection.  Wisp is a nice area with good snow making and also gets a good amount of natural snow for the area.  I think they have some performance rental skis you can rent from their rental shop.  

post #3 of 28
Nov 14, 2012

Hi Core2:

If you are going to be in the DC area, why not rent your equipment from a local ski shop instead of at a resort rental shop. One suggestion with excellent choices is the Ski Center off of Mass Ave close to the DC Maryland border. BTW, if you want to rent better equipment (not your run of the mill rental equipment for beginners or intermediates) at either Whitetail or Liberty, their on the mountain ski store (note, not the rental shop) has decent to good equipment. MephitBlue has covered all the bases for local skiing so I wouldn't repeat what he said. My suggestion is to go to Whitetail, if you want a short hour 15 minute drive and Timberline if you don't mind a drive of 3.5 hours (timing starts from getting onto interstate 270 and not the center of the city). Roughly the same veritcal (1000 ft) for both areas, with Timberline getting the nod for better terrain but at a cost of a longer drive. Hope you enjoy your trip to the DC area.

Think snow,

CP
post #4 of 28
Sorry, double posting to pad my post count:).
post #5 of 28

I also have a January biz trip to the area (Baltimore) and hope to do some skiing.  I'm considering many of the "close" areas (Wintergreen, Wisp, Showshoe, Canaan, Timberline, Whitetail). 

 

I'm also thinking about a few more in the North thinking they might get better snow?  (Mountain Creek, Sno, Blue, Camelback)

 

And if I really want to push it I might go to Hunter, Plattekill or Windham.  Are these areas significantly better than the others?

 

I hope to ski at least one weekday but also both weekend days.  Are some areas zoos on the weekend?

 

I've been skiing in the east before but not this far south.  I will be happy with a decent number of ski trials and expect nearly all will be groomers.  (although steeps, bumps and glades would be great)  All comments from those who know this region would be great.

post #6 of 28
NOV 14, 2012

Hi nathanvg:

Since you will be in the Baltimore area, I would rule out all of the Va areas i.e. Wintergreen, Snowshoe, since the drive would be excessive for the amount of skiing. This is a shame since Snowshoe does have some good terrain and vertical (1500 ft). If you went down to those areas, for not a lot more driving, you could be in NY and skiing Hunter or Windham. So starting with the closest area with 1000 ft or more vertical, Whitetail, Blue Mt, Blueknob, Timberline, Hunter and Windham (both 1600 feet). If you skied 2 or more days, I would choose either Hunter or Windham, or even better yet, they are so close, you could do one each day (5-6 hour drive from Baltimore). Convenience, would be Whitetail (2 hr drive) with Timberline,Blueknob (4 hour drive) coming in after Whitetail. Never been to Blue Mountain, so can't comment on it. I think that it is closer to you than Timberline or Blueknob though. Terrain wise, Hunter, Windham, Blueknob, Timberline and Whitetail in descending order. You will enjoy the challenge of the bumps of K27 at Hunter, where PSIA-e Level III cert exams are often held. Well that is my best suggestion. Hopefully someone from Blue Mt will chime in, since distance, terrain and vertical, Blue might be the way to go. Enjoy your visit to Baltimore.

Think snow,

CP
post #7 of 28

I consider Whitetail and Liberty to be "zoos" on weekends, due to their proximity not only to Washington, but also Baltimore, Hagerstown, and other urban areas in Western Maryland and Pa.  It can get very crowded with long lines at the lifts, even though Whitetail has a good, modern lift system.  I avoid those places on weekends, not worth the time and effort.

 

I prefer Canaan, Timberline, and Wisp, but as others have noted you are talking about a 3.5 hour drive to all of them.  Canaan and Timberline are in the WV "Snowbowl," averaging about 150-200 in/year.  I have had many good powder days there, unusual for the Mid-Atlantic.  The lodge at Timberline has not been upgraded in years (i.e. a dump).  Canaan built a new basic/functional lodge 7-8 years ago.  Both resorts have old, slow lifts.  I've found that even when groups are there (you can get a good many Church teen groups from various parts of the South and mid-Atlantic on weekends, especially MLK weekend) they tend to congregate at the base area and aren't on the slopes so much.  Timberline has the better terrain, Canaan less challenging.

 

Wisp is a well-run resort.  I've found the staff does a good job of making snow, opening terrain, and grooming runs.  It's a nicer area than Timberline/Canaan; better hotels, etc.  Wisp averages 100-150 in of snow/year.  It will likely be more crowded on weekends.  Also a magnet for school groups, etc.  Wisp's vertical is also less than Timberline, Canaan, or Whitetail.

 

I can't speak to the other places further north.  When I get in the car for a long ski trip, I go all the way to Vermont.  The general rule is the further north you go, the colder it will be. Not necessarily snowier, but the cold will preserve the snow that's there, and allow for more snow making.

post #8 of 28

From Baltimore, Roundtop is the closest decent area at about 1 hour away, but it is fairly small (about 600 ft. I think). Blue Mt. and Blue Knob  are OK and about 3+ hours or so. Elk is about 4  hours and is, in my opinion, the best terrain in PA and also fairly uncrowded compared to all the other choices. Hunter, Belleayre, Windham, Plattekill, are all in the 5.5 hr+ category. Of them, I like Hunter and Bellayre best with Hunter having the better terrain, and the larger crowds on weekends.

post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 

Good info guys, I really appreciate it. 

post #10 of 28

Good input from others, will try to amplify. 

What time in January?  Less than 100% trails open is a possibility in early Jan.  MLK weekend Jan 19-21 will be busier than other Jan weekends.

 

For daytripper Core: if you decide on a shorter outing, then a four hour flex-ticket extending beyond sunset might help evade worst weekend crowds at a place like Whitetail, PA.  If want to be a little more ambitious and snow is good go to Blue Knob, PA. 

 

For weekender Nathan there are more options: 

1. if snow is good go to Blue Knob, PA for a couple days, maybe visit Whitetail, PA for one day on the way to or from.

2. go to Timberline, WV ski there two days, and one day at nearby Canaan Valley ski area.

3.  go to the Catskills and ski Hunter, Windham, etc.  Snowshoe, WV is almost as far as Catskills and wouldn't offer as much variety at higher cost.  See the sample Catskills trip for ideas:   http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=1184&mode=rss

 

More general comments:  Blue Knob and Timberline (3-3.5 hour drive)offer the potential for more adventurous skiing including glades, more challenge, lighter crowds, lower prices, but only if natural snow is good and that usually doesn't happen until late January.  Otherwise, they don't offer much advantage over Whitetail and Liberty (75-90 min drive), which offer closer, decent, if conventional, and more crowded trail skiing.  Catskills (5.5-6 hour drive) are marginally better than all of the above, but longer drive is a serious tradeoff. Could be worth it if significantly better snow, which is possible, but not a given.

post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buster22181 View Post

I consider Whitetail and Liberty to be "zoos" on weekends, due to their proximity not only to Washington, but also Baltimore, Hagerstown, and other urban areas in Western Maryland and Pa.  It can get very crowded with long lines at the lifts, even though Whitetail has a good, modern lift system.  I avoid those places on weekends, not worth the time and effort.

 

In general I would agree with this.  However, I will typically hit first chair at Whitetail and ski pretty much non-stop for 3-4 good hours with the crowds not really picking up until afternoon.  By then, I'm out of there.  Sundays are better than Saturdays.  I would avoid Liberty (which is slightly closer) due to the crowds and short runs.

post #12 of 28

I think all the major points were covered.  I'll echo Charlie's comments about DC ski Center on Mass Ave in DC.  IMHO it is THE shop in the DC area with great selection of gear that would compare with many strong Western shops.  The folks who work there know skiing (both east and west) and are extremely customer focused.  I would recommend grabbing some gear there...the rental scene at many of the nearby mtns leaves a lot to be desired.  This alone would save you huge time and hassle. 

post #13 of 28

Don't know a thing about mid-Atlantic skiing (other than PA), but for Nathan, if you're making the drive up to the Catskills, I'd put my two cents in for Plattekill or Belleayre.  Plattekill is my personal favorite in the Catskills, but only if it's a good winter.  It has a great variety of terrain, including very steep runs, nice greens from the top, and a really cozy bar.  It's a very friendly, informal place.  Best of all, there are never lift lines on its two double lifts.  If you need a great place to stay, the funky and luxurious Roxbury Motel is right up the road. 

 

Of the three other major Catskill areas, Hunter, Windham, and Belleayre, I prefer Belleayre.  Good, steep runs up at the top, some bumped, some groomed, and long cruisers.  Hunter and Windam are good as well, but attract more of the City crowds, bus tours, and tons of inexperienced skiers.  Hunter probably has the best snowmaking, but Windham and Belleayre are good as well.  For the amount of driving you're going to do, though, I'd just get on a plane and head north or west!

post #14 of 28
Hey guys, I just moved here from Colorado and am in need of a good ski shop to do a sharpen and wax for the start of the season.
post #15 of 28

Welcome to EpicSki!  The Ski Chalet is often mentioned for the DC area.

 

Are you planning of skiing in the mid-Atlantic or heading back out west?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NC2CO View Post

Hey guys, I just moved here from Colorado and am in need of a good ski shop to do a sharpen and wax for the start of the season.
post #16 of 28
Both, I have a set of Fischer watea 78s that should do good here. My babies are my dynastar 6th sense slicers though.... Perfect for out west. Planning a week long tour end of January.....created butte, steamboat, Loveland, maybe one other...lol. I already miss Colorado!!!!!
post #17 of 28
Any recommendations here?
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by NC2CO View Post

Any recommendations here?

Do you mean ski areas near DC?  Normally there are a few options by now.  But the warm weather the last few weeks has made the list of open areas very short.  Those that are opening by Christmas won't be in good shape for a few more weeks.  WV is getting dumped on this weekend.  Timberline and Canaan Valley in Davis, WV attract advanced/expert skiers from DC, as does Blue Knob in PA.  These places are a LOT smaller than anything you skied in CO.  Still can be fun, but a different experience.

 

Check out the EpicSki resort pages for basics on the various ski areas.

http://www.epicski.com/products/category/mid-atlantic-us-resorts

post #19 of 28

We used to live in various DC suburbs for years. I did not find an area within 2 hours that I thought was really worthwhile although many thousands of people do every weekend during the winter. My choices for good skiing (although not by CO standards) are Blue Knob near Altoona and, Elk in far northeast PA but both are probably overnight trips (or very long days). I haven't been to Timberline that Marznc mentioned. When I lived there, I went sometimes to Roundtop for day trips but mostly to Elk. What is definitely worthwhile are long trips to the really good eastern places like Whiteface, MRG, Stowe, etc. If you have interest in park skiing there may be places that work but I don't know them.

post #20 of 28

For an excellent guide to West Virginia's Timberline check out JohnL's Unofficial Guide to Skiing Timberline Resort. For an in depth trail description of PA's Blue Knob read ChimneyRidgeTC's Blue Knob Trail Guide. Both resorts  are all about the skiing with your basic amenities but they have the best terrain in the region though both need a long stretch of cold to get their terrain open.

 

If you are look for acres of snowmaking of mostly intermediate fall line skiing and the region's total resort experience then Seven Springs in Western PA. has all of that plus a dedicated bump run,Goose Bumps, short but bumped 90% of the time. However, I think the best bumps can be found on skier's right of Stowe. There are also pocket glades between the front side trails with Yak-Yak Glade starting with a nice steeper pitch to keep the get in interesting. You won't find Yak-Yak on the trail map but an enthusiastic local (not me) place a sign in a tree at the top. Longer, steeper trails and more glades are on the resort's North Face. If it's terrain parks you're looking for then the Springs is the place for you, voted best terrain parks in the east by TransWorld Snowboarding and Ski Magazine. We're talking about almost 300 acres of snowmaking. Check out the details on PA largest winter resort in our Seven Springs Resort Guide

 

Nearby neighbor Hidden Valley has what I think is the region's best machine made snow boasting a total refit of their system with automated Technoalpin snow making system. Pittsburgh real estate developer Buncher Company bought the resort in 2008 and have invested millions in this short in vertical but huge in service family oriented resort. If you have beginners or young children in tow then Hidden Valley can't be beat with very good uphill capacity (no high speeds but unique conveyor assist quad chair loading), the best machine made snow and exceptional value.

 

PA's Whitetail  might be the most easily accessed resort if not the closet to the DC area. Whitetail is certainly the newest resort in the region. The resort has about 1000 vertical ft, high speed quads, total snowmaking and a trail system whose terrain naturally segregates sliders by ability with each pod of skiing serviced by their own lift. It has been a long while since I skied there but I recall that the mountain's exposure and elevation can make for  interesting snow conditions so make sure the weather has been conducive for a good shot of snowmaking before you set out for a day trip.

 

I can't speak personally about the region's other resorts but use marznc's link to our list of mid-Atlantic resorts to get the basics and read our members personal reviews. The reviews contain a wealth of information and personal insights. If you would like to meet and ski with some of the mid-A EpicSkii crowd mark Feb 22-24, 2013 on your calender and come to the Mid-Atlantic Gathering.

 

I can't be of much help with ski shops in the DC area as I live in the capital of Steeler Nation, Pittsburgh, but I know that us yinzer's largest snow sport retailer, Willi's, opened a store in  Fairfax, Virginia despite the fact the area is filthy with Ravens and Redskins fans. Willi's have provided the Pittsburgh area with excellent service for as long as I can remember and I first time I strapped skis on my feet was in 1964.

 

If yinz is lucky yinz can buy a Steelers game jersey or a Penguins sweater to wear when skiing in Western PA and fit right in with all the gaper, JONG, black and gold blue jean wearing locals. If yinz is comin' up the mahtains don't be a jag off. Give us shaut aut here 'n'at and we's will meet cha dahn da Foggy Goggle to hoist a couple of Arn Cities and Penn Pilsners.

 

Welcome to EpicSki, let's meet up and ski sometime this winter.

post #21 of 28

On the ski shop front, the Ski Center which is just off Mass. Ave about a mile past American University is probably the best bet for better than average quality. I never had them do tuning but they have 2 well thought of boot fitters so I expect that they would be good.

post #22 of 28

Wintergreen's got some good terrain of you can circumnavigate the madness and get over the Highlands area.  It's worth the 3 drive for me usually, but then I drive 3 hours to ski anywhere.  Problem is, that Wintergreen isn't open at all right now and Highlands is usually the last terrain they get covered each season.  Highlands might not be open til February at this rate.

post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

Wintergreen's got some good terrain of you can circumnavigate the madness and get over the Highlands area.  It's worth the 3 drive for me usually, but then I drive 3 hours to ski anywhere.  Problem is, that Wintergreen isn't open at all right now and Highlands is usually the last terrain they get covered each season.  Highlands might not be open til February at this rate.

Highlands is fun mid-week.  The high speed 6-pack makes getting back to the top quick and painless.  Not worth the drive on weekends, especially because there are no lights on the Highlands so have to quit by 4:00 . . . and then join the masses just to get back to a parking lot.

 

At least Wintergreen could finally fire up the snow guns last night.  Now we'll see if the new giant water tank really makes a difference in terms on how fast they can get fully open.

 

Mnut is blowing snow on DJ.  Even saw a few natural snowflakes this morning when we were out on the new zipline.  But won't be any slopes open until after Christmas.

post #24 of 28
That's exactly what I was asking. Most people I've talked to mention several places in the area but looking them up I don't see a whole lot for advanced skiers. The resorts you mentioned look like they may have a little more to offer. Thanks!!!
post #25 of 28

A shop I like in the area is Alpine Ski Shop in Sterling, VA.  I do my  own tuning, but have taken skis there to just get a base grind. It's owned and run by two brothers.  Good guys, very knowledgeable, laid back atmosphere.

post #26 of 28

NC2CO,  if you've never skied in the Mid-A or Northeast for that matter you must take into consideration that you will be skiing mostly machine made snow on the trails and slopes. Even with a 200 inch average snowfall there are numerous thaw/freeze cycles so natural terrain is often thin providing its own type of challenge. Trails and open slope skiing is usually hardpack 'frozen granular'. What I'm saying is that the times I've skied Colorado resorts after long snowless stretches the locals complain about the 'icy' conditions while I'm ecstatic over the perfect, edgeable hardpack. Snow conditions will dictate challenge but it will probably not be the type of challenge you seek unless you're a budding racer seeking to hone your edging skills on ice. Bullet proof bumps are something else, how are your pivot slips? Mine suck but moguls for me have always been an obstacle to endured rather then a challenged to be mastered. However I find spring or fresh snow bumps interesting but I still haven't committed the time to really master them.

post #27 of 28

I enjoy both eastern and western skiing but they aren't the same as LHC was pointing out. The same trail that out West might be an easy dull cruise can be a challenging and fun run in the East with ice and variable conditions, particularly if it is a classic New England tight winding trail. My advice - embrace the difference.

post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buster22181 View Post

A shop I like in the area is Alpine Ski Shop in Sterling, VA.  I do my  own tuning, but have taken skis there to just get a base grind. It's owned and run by two brothers.  Good guys, very knowledgeable, laid back atmosphere.

I was going to recommend Alpine Ski shop as well. DC Ski Center and Alpine Ski shop are the ski shops that I like to do business with in the area.
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