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It's a Short Hop to the Top of the Hill
There's Plenty of Snow to Be Found Within a Few Hours' Drive

By Carol Sottili
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 2, 2007

Here we go again.

The latest word from the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center is that the mid-Atlantic has a decent chance of another winter of above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation.

With that in mind, we took a look at a dozen local mountains and (no surprise here) found that, generally, the farther you drive, the more natural snow you'll find. But don't discount the closer-in locations: All have extensive snowmaking abilities that they will employ as soon as temperatures dip. Pick a slope that fits, slap the ski racks on the car and hope for cold weather.

Here's a look at the resorts, starting from the farthest away from downtown Washington to the closest. Snow statistics were gleaned from http://www.onthesnow.com and from the individual resorts, and distances and drive times are from http://www.mapquest.com; lift ticket prices are per day. Opening dates subject to change; check with the individual resort.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort

Where: Snowshoe, W.Va.

Distance:257 miles (4 hours 48 minutes).

Opening date: Nov. 21 (last year, Nov. 23).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 180 inches (last season, 120 inches).

* Average season length: 131 days (133 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season Friday-Sunday lift ticket is $70 for an adult (9 a.m.-10 p.m.).

Best for . . . enthusiasts serious about skiing and partying. A 1,500-foot vertical drop, three new expert trails and three terrain parks put it in the big leagues. A comedy club and nightclub keep night life fresh.

Info: 877-441-4386, http://www.snowshoemtn.com.

Seven Springs Mountain Resort

Where: Champion, Pa.

Distance:200 miles (3 hours 27 minutes).

Projected opening date: Dec. 1 (last year, Dec. 8).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 105 inches (last season, 127 inches).

* Average season length: 125 days (115 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season weekend lift ticket is $55 (Saturday, 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.).

Best for . . . real skiers and snowboarders who also want to snow-tube, snowshoe, take snow-cat rides, snowmobile, go on a horse-drawn sleigh, bowl, swim, roller skate, get a massage and enjoy above-average dining. With 31 trails, Seven Springs offers one of the region's biggest mountains.

Info: 800-452-2223, http://www.7springs.com.

Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center

Where: Davis, W.Va.

Distance:184 miles (3 hours 35 minutes).

Projected opening date: Dec. 22 (last year, Dec. 8).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 150 inches (last season, 189 inches).

* Average season length: 108 days (108 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season Saturday lift ticket is $61 (8 a.m.-9 p.m.); Sunday is $53 (8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).

Best for . . . outdoor-oriented families at different levels of skiing/boarding. The even division among easy, intermediate and difficult slopes assures accessibility for all. Airboarding and outdoor ice skating for those who want something unique.

Info: 800-622-4121, http://www.canaanresort.com.

Timberline Four Seasons Resort

Where: Davis, W.Va.

Distance:184 miles (3 hours 35 minutes).

Projected opening date: Dec. 6 (last year, Dec. 5).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 150 inches (last season, 194 inches).

* Average season length: 115 days (113 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season weekend lift ticket is $57 (8 a.m.-9 p.m.).

Best for . . . better skiers/boarders who want to try two resorts in one weekend; Canaan Valley is two miles away.

Info: 800-766-9464, http://www.timberlineresort.com.

Wisp at Deep Creek Mountain Resort

Where: McHenry, Md.

Distance:179 miles (3 hours 5 minutes).

Projected opening date: Dec. 1 (last year, Dec. 8).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 100 inches (last season, 118 inches).

* Average season length: 120 days (109 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season weekend lift ticket is $57 (9 a.m.-9 p.m.).

Best for . . . early-season skiers/boarders. With its deep natural snowfall and excellent snowmaking facilities, Wisp is often one of the area's first to open. Two terrain parks and a 400-foot half-pipe attract snowboarders.

Info: 301-387-4911, http://www.skiwisp.com.

Blue Knob

Where: Claysburg, Pa.

Distance:160 miles (2 hours 49 minutes).

Projected opening date: Dec. 14 (last year, Dec. 15).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 130 inches (last season, 126 inches).

* Average season length: 105 days (77 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season weekend lift ticket is $50 (9 a.m.-10 p.m.).

Best for . . . spring skiing. With high elevation (3,173 feet) and north-facing slopes, the mountain can get downright cold during the depths of winter but keeps its snow into spring.

Info: 800-458-3403, http://www.blueknob.com.

Wintergreen

Where: Wintergreen, Va.

Distance:149 miles (2 hours 47 minutes).

Projected opening date: Dec. 7 (last year, Nov. 25).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 48 inches (last season, 21 inches).

* Average season length, 121 days (103 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season weekend lift ticket is $64 (9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday).

Best for . . . a group that includes non-skiers. Pick a milder midwinter day, and golfers in the crowd can descend to the Stoney Creek Golf Course. Also has the largest snow-tubing park in the state.

Info: 800-266-2444, http://www.wintergreenresort.com.

Massanutten Resort

Where: Harrisonburg, Va.

Distance:131 miles (2 hours 12 minutes).

Projected opening date: Dec. 7 (last year, Dec. 8).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 35 inches (last season, 19 inches).

* Average season length: 97 days (88 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season weekend lift ticket is $71 (9 a.m.-10 p.m.).

Best for . . . skiers/boarders who don't want to drive far but want a challenge. Resort's vertical, at 1,100 feet, is highest in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Warm-weather fans can retreat to the resort's 84-degree indoor water park.

Info: 800-207-6277, http://www.massresort.com.

Ski Roundtop

Where: Lewisberry, Pa.

Distance:117 miles (2 hours 8 minutes).

Projected opening: No date set (last year, Dec. 9).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 30 inches (last season, 25 inches).

* Average season length: 105 days (97 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season weekend lift ticket is $58 (8 a.m.-10 p.m.).

Best for . . . skiers/boarders looking for total ticket flexibility. Arriving at 10 a.m. and leaving at 2 p.m.? No trouble: Buy a $47 four-hour flex ticket. Also, the only area resort with year-round paintball.

Info: 717-432-9631, http://www.skiroundtop.com.

Bryce Resort

Where: Basye, Va.

Distance:114 miles (2 hours 1 minute).

Projected opening date: Dec. 8 (last year, Dec. 9).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 30 inches (last season, 21 inches).

* Average season length: 93 days (93 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season Saturday lift ticket is $62 (9 a.m.-9 p.m.); Sunday is $52 (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).

Best for . . . newbie skiers/boarders. Horst Locher Ski & Snowboard School has a good reputation.

Info: 800-821-1444, http://www.bryceresort.com.

Whitetail

Where: Mercersburg, Pa.

Distance:94 miles (1 hour 47 minutes).

Projected opening date: Dec. 8 (last year, Dec. 9).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 40 inches (last season, 31 inches).

* Average season length: 98 days (80 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season weekend lift ticket is $59 (8:30 a.m.-10 p.m.).

Best for . . . better skiers/boarders who want to do a quick day trip. Vertical drop of 935 feet is highest among close-in resorts.

Info: 717-328-9400, http://www.skiwhitetail.com.

Liberty Mountain Resort

Where: Carroll Valley, Pa.

Distance:76 miles (1 hour 30 minutes).

Projected opening date: Dec. 7 or 8 (last year, Dec. 9).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 31 inches (last season, 22 inches).

* Average season length: 95 days (76 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season weekend lift ticket is $59 (8 a.m.-10 p.m.).

Best for . . . parents who want to ease their little ones into skiing or snowboarding. The Children's Learning Center for ages 4-10 does an excellent job of showing kids the ropes.

Info: 717-642-8282, http://www.skiliberty.com.

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