Late December Family Skiing
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11 users
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novace
28 days ago
Member since 11/1/2021 🔗
1 posts

With apologies for the breadth of this question, we are a family of five that is fairly new to skiing as a group in this area, and trying to balance options for a multi-day ski trip in late December.  Our three kids (all elementary school aged) really got into skiing last winter and, by the end of the season, could easily handle the greens (and the easier blues) at the close-in Pennsylvania slopes (Liberty, Whitetail, and Roundtop). 

We were hoping to go slightly farther afield with a multi-day trip this year, but are unsure how their level of skiing translates to other mountains, or which areas have the best chance of good conditions in late December.  Any thoughts from the collective knowledge of this board would be most appreciated, particularly as to (1) splitting time between Canaan Valley and Timberline, (2) splitting between Seven Springs and Hidden Valley, or (3) trying Wisp.  While I visited several of these resorts as a teenager, it has been more than 25 years, and from browsing the boards, my memories seem very out-of-date with respect to several of these resorts (Timberline and Hidden Valley especially).  Thanks so much!

Thefirewarde
28 days ago
Member since 09/17/2015 🔗
32 posts

Salamander is long but not steep (green top to bottom run, Timberline). Both areas have moderate blues that open early. The Canaan Valley would be my pick.

Timberline has a freshly renovated lodge, all new lifts, and revamped snowmaking in the last two years.

Bonzski
28 days ago
Member since 10/21/2015 🔗
553 posts
You'll find suitable terrain at any of those resorts and the weather can't be predicted to favor at any of them this far out.  What may dictate which you choose is which one you can find a place to stay, especially if you're thinking between Christmas & New Years.
Grumpy dad
22 days ago
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
4 posts

7s is a gamble. If the weather allows for great snowmaking they should have most terrain open.  If it doesn't you'll be paying holiday rates for a small amount of slopes open. 

If the weather stinks as in rain and fog, then the indoor things to do get really really packed to the point they you'll be exhausted from fighting the crowds and waiting to eat and do things.  Slopeside rarely has a wait if you arrive by five.  

7s is very nice during Xmas.  We love it there.  So much so we have a place nearby now.  But I avoid it like the plague during the holidays sans maybe an early morning jaunt or late evening if the conditions are ok. 

Also FYI there isn't much to do nearby 7s so if it is a rain out, you will be driving an hour to go to movies or something.  The local town about 30 minutes away, Somerset, does have some places to eat but the food is generally meh. And there is nothing to do there really.  So scout ahead before you book with what your plan is to keep kids occupied if the weather doesn't play nice.

I'm hopeful it will be wide open with fresh snow the days prior, not too cold, and magically not busy. :)

RodneyBD - DCSki Supporter
20 days ago
Member since 12/21/2004 🔗
202 posts

It's all about the snow making.  If you go to Canaan Valley in December CVR will probably only have 3 or 4 runs open (don't be fooled by their trail count since every trail has two or three names, so voila, 3 top to bottom trails open equals "10 named trails" open on the snow report).

Sure looks as though Timberline is going to have a massive snow making operation so good bet for December.

7S also.  Snowshoe also even though you didn't ask.

Wisp not so much.  See the separate Wisp thread.  Last couple of Winters neither East Ridge or North Camp we're open until late January.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
19 days ago (edited 19 days ago)
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,233 posts

I used to advise friends, who asked, to not go skiing over the Christmas break.  It will be crowded, cold, with limited open terrain and dark at 5 pm.  Do something else and ski later in the season, like spring break.  There are many more good ski days in March and April than in December.  When our kids were little in school I sometimes violated my own advice and usually regretted it.  Of course it can be awfully hard to tell this to kids.

Denis - not really the grinch

Keith_Moon
19 days ago (edited 19 days ago)
Member since 02/19/2019 🔗
163 posts

We live in NC and my wife is from eastern Ontario, so every other year we take I-81 up there for the Christmas holiday.

Because of that I always have my radar on to see which ski areas located more or less between here and there look best to ski during that time.

Setting aside Canada or New York state (and of course New England, etc.), from what I've seen the best place during that time is Snowshoe.

I'd love to try Montage or Elk Mountain in PA but they never seem to be open (or barely open) during that time.  

On one of our "off years" when we didn't go to Ontario, we did try Snowshoe during the week between Christmas and New Years.  (We have been there a number of other times too.)  And yeah, it was cold, a bit crowded and got dark early.  But, ya know, that's winter.  And it snowed a lot and the skiing was great.

So with the disclaimer that I've never skied Timberline, Canaan or Wisp (or any place in PA for that matter), I'd say you can do Snowshoe during that period and have a great time.

wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter
18 days ago (edited 18 days ago)
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
225 posts

Of Elk, Montage and Timberline, I liked Elk the best. Granted, Montage was just one night 25 years ago (!) and Timberline was previous ownership. Elk is within 15-20 minutes of I-81.


I haven't been to Snowshoe, because I'm just daytripper for the most part and for that distance I can go pretty far north on superhighways instead of winding 2 lane roads. I'm certainly curious though.

skithealleghenies
18 days ago
Member since 01/22/2017 🔗
21 posts

Like others have mentioned already on this thread, the weather can be a bit fickle out in the Alleghenies (WV, western MD, & western PA) mountains in late December. Some years conditions are not bad by late December, other years the resorts are struggling to open even 25-50% of their trails by the holiday season.

That being said, historically, the most reliable resorts to have the most terrain open in late December is hands down Snowshoe and 7 Springs. Snowshoe will almost undoubtedly have the most, but 7 Springs usually can get a decent amount open too thanks to both of these resorts having great snowmaking. Those two resorts are pretty much the powerhouse resorts out here in the Alleghenies and will provide the most reliable conditions in my opinion. However, with Timberline’s new ownership, I very much expect them to become part of that powerhouse list. They will probably also have a decent amount of their terrain open by the holidays if weather cooperates and will probably open more of their terrain earlier each year as they continue to make massive improves to that resort.

In terms of good resorts for beginners - that would be Hidden Valley, Wisp, & Canaan Valley. Not that 7S, Snowshoe, Timberline don’t have beginner areas/terrain, but not quite as widespread as these three others. All three are very beginner friendly and offer great runs - green & blues for beginners. However, I would not put my faith in Wisp or Canaan to have much open by Christmas just based off the past several years. HV usually has a little bit more open than the other two, but not as much as Snowshoe & 7S.

FYI - if you are going by the holidays, every resort will be crowded as others have mentioned. Canaan Valley and Hidden Valley will have the lighter crowds.

All in all - I would typically recommend Snowshoe to people who haven’t been there. It truly is worth the longer drive, will provide the most reliable conditions in late December, and has some nice terrain for beginners/intermediates. But it just gets so dang crowded around the holidays. We’ll see if that changes this year since they got rid of their most popular season pass. Therefore your best bet would probably be the Timberline/Canaan Valley area or the Seven Springs/Hidden Valley area. A little less crowded and closer than Snowshoe. Both areas have one resort better for beginners and also a more reliable resort nearby just in case the more beginner resorts don’t have much open. Plus it’s always fun to ski two resorts so close to each other.

Hope this helps.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
18 days ago
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,233 posts

If you do go in December the best natural snow will be on or just a few miles west of the eastern continental divide,

1636774675_hppowqrhgrpi.jpg

There is snowmaking of course and the best snowmaking conditions will most likely be found there as well.  The mid Atlantic resorts on or close to the divide are 7 springs/Laurel/hidden valley, Wisp, Timberline, Canaan Valley, Snowshoe.

superguy
7 days ago
Member since 03/8/2018 🔗
308 posts

HV is great for families if you have little kids or are fairly new to the sport. It's much more chill and less busy than 7S.

The terrain isn't that challenging though there are a few fun runs. Doesn't have much to do outside out skiing though - less so than 7S.

They have a good snowmaking system, with fairly new TechnoAlpin fans and guns.

I go there when I want a more chill day.

If you go on a weekend, you can get a Highlands ticket that gives access to 7S, HV and LM. You can try all 3 pretty easily as they're within about a half hour of each other. I've started at LM and then headed to 7S or HV later on to finish the night.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,575 posts

Keith_Moon wrote:

We live in NC and my wife is from eastern Ontario, so every other year we take I-81 up there for the Christmas holiday.

Because of that I always have my radar on to see which ski areas located more or less between here and there look best to ski during that time.

Setting aside Canada or New York state (and of course New England, etc.), from what I've seen the best place during that time is Snowshoe.

I'd love to try Montage or Elk Mountain in PA but they never seem to be open (or barely open) during that time.  

On one of our "off years" when we didn't go to Ontario, we did try Snowshoe during the week between Christmas and New Years.  (We have been there a number of other times too.)  And yeah, it was cold, a bit crowded and got dark early.  But, ya know, that's winter.  And it snowed a lot and the skiing was great.

So with the disclaimer that I've never skied Timberline, Canaan or Wisp (or any place in PA for that matter), I'd say you can do Snowshoe during that period and have a great time.

 I wouldn't bother to make the drive from NC to PA in December or early Jan.  If anything, I'd consider a day trip from Snowshoe to Timberline.  Assuming everyone is wiling to get up really early in order to make first chair.  The new ownership, high-speed 6-pack, and improved snowmaking really made a HUGE difference.

I did a few early Dec ski safaris in the northeast when I was going to pick up my daughter from school for winter break.  Fun to explore places I'd heard about, but not worth a family trip IMHO.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,575 posts

wfyurasko wrote:

Of Elk, Montage and Timberline, I liked Elk the best. Granted, Montage was just one night 25 years ago (!) and Timberline was previous ownership. Elk is within 15-20 minutes of I-81.


I haven't been to Snowshoe, because I'm just daytripper for the most part and for that distance I can go pretty far north on superhighways instead of winding 2 lane roads. I'm certainly curious though.

 For checking out Snowshoe, consider going in late season, meaning after Pres. Day.  Everything will be open for at least a few weeks.  There won't be much of a crowd.  If you pay attention to SkiSE, there are discounts for lodging for their annual Snowshoe Summit.  The Summit is typically the first weekend of March.

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