7S has the best off-slope scene in the Mid-Atlantic, and is a great place for the young and single. The Foggy Goggle pub is finest apres ski pub in the Mid-Atlantic: people start dancing at 3 pm and don't stop until the place closes. It reminds me a bit of Krazy Kangaru at St. Anton in Austria. The food also rocks at 7S: everything is decent, whether it be the moon pies at the cafeteria, the peel and eat shrimp at Foggy Goggle, the all you can eat buffet in the main lodge, or Helen's for fancy feasts (reservations required).
Ok, but you are going with a family and may not be interested in all the apres ski.
Well, there are some other advantages to the place:
a) Lots of lifts
b) Many trails
d) The best shuttle bus system in the region
e) An efficient ski rental operation
f) Excellent grooming and snowmaking
g) It is West of the Allegheny Front and therefore has much better conditions on average than Liberty, Whitetail, the Nut, etc.
h) Friendly staff. After a few trips, I was on a first name basis with some of the lifties on the North Face.
I) Convenient to DC: 3 hours, mainly on highway.
But there are also disadvantages:
A) Smallish vertical: 750 feet on the North Face and less on the Wagner side.
B) Can be crowded.
C) Expensive lodging
D) All but one lift are slow.
To save bucks, my wife and I always crash at Days Inn in Somerset, PA. Our strategy is to leave DC late in the morning on a Saturday, ski the Twilight Session (afternoon and evening), eat dinner at the Lodge, crash, and then ski Sunday until 9 pm and leave.
My wife loves 7 Springs (the vertical doesn't bother her). She likes the unpretentious atmosphere of the place. At 7 Springs, many people ski in Steeler's jackets, and talk about the game; at Snowshoe, by comparison, they wear Arcteryx and boast about their latest trip to Deer Valley or Trois Vallees. She also enjoys the blacks on North Face. They aren't that challenging. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
If you are an expert, I would suggest that you shoot for Snowshoe or Timberline because both those places offer much better double black terrain. Snowshoe has two 1,500 foot vertical trails on the Western Territory that blow everything else in the region away, but since we are only talking about two trails, they get crowded. Also, the lower section of both often get slushy. Amongst locals, Lower Cupp is known as "mush meadows."
Timberline has better snow and most of its trails cover 1,000 feet of vertical. It also has two decent double blacks by regional standars: Off the Wall and The Drop. Amongst the readers of DCSki, Timberline is a favorite because of its decent vertical, excellent snow, reasonable lodging, and fun double blacks, including Cherry Glades (an off piste favorite of locals).
The problem with Timberline is its aging infrastucture: slow chairs that often break down. Wasting 12-15 minutes on each lift ride blows. The resort is losing skiers every year to Snowshoe, which has two high-speeds, including one on the Western Territory. Timberline is also a bare bones, New England style mountain. There's a small lodge at the base and that's it. You have to drive to get to restaurants, most of which are on Rt. 32 in the Canaan Valley or in Davis, 12 miles away.
Another excellent mountain is Whitetail. It's only 1.5 hours from DC, so it gets horribly crowded on weekends, but it is wonderful midweek or at night, especially when the local weather is cold. Whitetail has a high-speed, detachable, and a faily fast fixed grip quad on the Far Side.
There's plenty of info on all these places in DCSki
Just do some searches using the resort name as a key word.[ November 01, 2003, 09:23 AM: Message edited by: West Virginia Skier ]