Trudging out to your car in the Monday morning freeze, slush in your boots, the sun peeking wanly over the horizon, it’s easy to forget that winter provides incredible opportunities for adrenaline-pumping recreation. While Mid-Atlantic skiing is admittedly a different experience than, say, hitting the slopes in Aspen or Sun Valley, the freedom to schuss down a mountain (regardless of its size) just a few hours later is yet another feather (or pom-pom) in Baltimore’s (ski) hat.
What follows is a list of our 10 favorite ski resorts within a day’s drive of Charm City, encompassing spots in West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. So the next time you’re scraping the ice off your windshield and feel a Jerry Lundegaard-in-Fargo-style meltdown coming on, take a deep breath, focus on the weekend, and throw your skis in the car. It’s go time.
1424 Overland Pass, Claysburg, Pa., 800-458-3403.
Slope Stats: When you can say that yours is the highest ski mountain in Pennsylvania (total vertical drop of 1,072 feet), you don’t have to say too much more. But we’ll say it anyway: Blue Knob’s 34 trails and small tubing park make it a great destination for families looking for a quick getaway. The resort gets particularly high marks for its glade runs, aka off-trail skiing through ungroomed, wooded scenery. Après Ski: On-site condos and chalets are available for rent through the resort’s website, but quality can vary widely among the privately owned units. The resort maintains indoor/outdoor pools, hot tubs, and saunas for guests who stay in the condos, and also offers a ski school, equipment rental, and cross-country skiing. Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. Cost: A five-hour flex pass can cost as little as $30 Sun.-Fri. or $52 for weekends and holidays. Eat and Drink: At Slick’s Ivy Stone (8785 William Penn Road, Osterburg, Pa., 814-276-3131), about eight miles from the resort, wait staff in Colonial dress serve down-home staples like fried chicken and sugar-baked ham. Driving Distance: Three hours.
78 Country Club Trail, Carroll Valley, Pa., 717-642-8282.
Slope Stats: Ski Liberty, as it’s known around these parts, is where many young skiers conquer their first runs. The mountain’s 16 trails and three terrain parks are serviced by nine lifts, and its elevation (1,190 feet with a vertical drop of 600 feet) presents challenging—but not overly intimidating—runs. Après Ski: New this year is an ice-skating rink, plus the usual tubing, child-care center, restaurants, and bars. A fitness center, wireless internet, and a hot breakfast buffet are included with hotel rates. Hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and non-holidays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends and holidays. Cost: Lift tickets are $56 for a four-hour flex period, $66 on weekends and holidays. Novice skiers and snowboarders can get a lift ticket, lesson, and equipment rental for $90 midweek, $103 on weekends and holidays. Eat and Drink: Frontier Bar.B.Q. (801 Waynesboro Pike, Fairfield, Pa., 717-642-0030) smokes turkey, beef, pulled-pork, Gouda Italian sausages, and even pit ham. Trouble deciding? Order the Spicy Bullhawg, a half-beef, half-pork sandwich. Driving distance: One hour, 30 minutes.
1822 Resort Dr., Massanutten, Va., 540-289-9441.
Slope Stats: Massanutten is spread over 70 skiable and 6,000 total acres in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. It often hosts live entertainment, offering a good-time environment for skiers of all ages. But the main attraction is the resort’s 2,925-foot summit with a vertical drop of 1,110 feet, plus 14 trails, two terrain parks, and seven lifts. Après Ski: Indoor water park, ski and snowboard lessons, equipment rental, tubing, outdoor ice skating, zip line (weather dependent), gift shops and boutiques, restaurants, and a nightclub. Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Christmas week. Cost: Mon.-Fri. $60 for an extended day ticket, $80 on weekends and holidays. Eat and Drink: Hank’s Grille and Bar (49 Bloomer Springs Road, McGaheysville, Va., 540-289-7667) bills itself as an “upscale Southern eatery” that serves barbecue, steaks, and fresh breads. Driving distance: Three hours, 10 minutes.
925 Roundtop Road, Lewisberry, Pa., 717-432-9631.
Slope Stats: In the time it takes to drive to Washington, D.C., in rush hour traffic, you can get to one of the area’s best ski resorts for beginners and intermediates, boasting 18 trails, a terrain park with a super pipe and half pipe, and a zip line course—all on 103 skiable acres on a 1,355-foot mountain with a 600-foot vertical drop. Which drive sounds more fun? Après Ski: Main lodge food court, sports shop, ski and snowboard schools, and tubing. Hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. weekdays and non-holidays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends and holidays. Cost: An eight-hour lift ticket is $60 midweek and non-holidays, $69 on weekends and holidays. Eat and Drink: Silver Lake Inn Bistro and Tavern (1295 Lewisberry Road, Lewisberry, Pa., 717-938-4894) specializes in steaks, seafood, and pizza. Driving distance: One hour, 30 minutes.
777 Waterwheel Dr., Seven Springs, Pa., 800-452-2223
Slope Stats: The 2,994-foot mountain with a 750-foot vertical drop offers 33 slopes and trails, seven terrain parks, and 10 lifts. Après Ski: If you’ve ever wanted to tag along with friends on a weekend ski trip but aren’t that jazzed about hitting the slopes, this is the resort for you. There’s live music on weekends, bowling, roller-skating, indoor mini-golf, snowshoe and snowmobile tours, tubing, an indoor pool, fitness center, hot tubs, and 11 dining options. A sporting clays course is open year-round, weather permitting. Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sun. and holidays. Lit North Face trails close one hour prior to regular trails. Cost: All-day tickets are $64 midweek, $83 weekends, and $87 on holidays. Eat and Drink: Out of the Fire Café (3784 State Route 31, Donegal, Pa., 724-259-8887) is a family-owned-and-operated casual restaurant serving New American cuisine like Yuengling porter-braised short ribs with horseradish smashed potatoes. It’s BYOB. Driving distance: Three hours, 30 minutes.