"Local" XC skiing Possibilities
So I've been much more of an avid downhiller over the last few years, but after an attempt late last winter, I've been meaning to get back into XC skiing. I grew up learning XC out in the Pacific Northwest at places like Mt. Bachelor, Three Sisters, Mt. Hood, and etc., but since moving out to Northern VA 15 years ago, my skiing became mostly non-existent until I picked up downhill a few years back.
I was wondering, what is everyone's take on the "nearby" XC facilities/trails? From what I can gather, Whitegrass appears to be most people's haven around here, but how does it stack up against some of these other places I've found online: Wisp, Laurel Highland areas, Backbone ski farm, Herrington Manor St. Park, New Germany St. Park, & etc.? My preference is for a place or two with groomed trails with set tracks, but I might be interested in backcountry/no set tracks as a backup. Also, I'm looking for places that offer rentals. Which places offer classic XC rentals (for set tracks), & which offer backcountry or both? Lastly, how much of a base is required to create set tracks for classic skiing? I was interested in heading out to Whitegrass this past weekend, but since there was only 2-4 inches forecasted, I felt that may only be enough for backcountry. Of course, I later find out that they received around 8 inches.
Anything around Davis/Canaan, NW Maryland, and Southern PA is not a problem, since all are relatively the same distance from where I'm located.
Thanks for any recommendations and/or suggestions you can offer!
There's a reason that Whitegrass is everyone's favorite. They offer world class xc and backcountry skiing right here in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic. When the weather hits right, its not just good for here... It's good compared to anywhere. If you are planning a trip check the daily report on their website and get the most honest weather and conditions update in the business.
Chip has tons of rentals and good deals on new gear. Good people, good grooming, good snow, varied terrain and an awesome cafe. What more do you need?
You have about 90% of "all there is to know" in your post. Here is my two cents: WG is the only place in my experience that offers the complete package that you seek. Add the lift served Sods, Natty Nord, Roaring Plains, and the CV and Blackwater Falls state park trails and this is the most groomed, ungroomed and BC terrain with reliable snowfall south of NY.
MD has two groomed areas at Herrington and New Germany state parks. Both have rental concessions but think state park affairs. New Germany is closer and the better of the two but can be more crowded because of proximity and ease of the drive from the DC area off of I-68. I would not do the drive to Herrington Manor. Wisp has rentals and the trails are on the golf course. I have not been to Backbone or Savage River so others could chime in here. Personally,I think New Germany is worth the day trip when conditions are on, but the other areas are best when staying at the lake.
I used to ski up in PA years ago, but have not in a while. The PCCSA has a good website and there are several areas up in the Highlands, with easy access off I-70. They generally get less snow than CV.
Blue Knob also lists a nordic concession. But I think most would agree that the Laurel Highlands, Deep Creek and CV get more snow.
Elk River by Snowshoe had a decent nordic center when I was in college in Elkins, but if you are going to drive this far, upstate PA and Tug Hill in NY come into play.
is the place to scout things out for your situation. From Herndon you could do it in a long day trip, about three hours each way. They "farm" the snow and keep more kilometers of track open than you might expect given overall regional snow/weather conditions. They have tons of rentals. When there is plenty of natural snow cover you can also stay a weekend and x-country ski at nearby Canaan Valley Resort. New Germany, is near Wisp and about 3 hours from Herndon, it's an option when there is plenty of natural. When we get some natural in town a scenic place to blaze your own way is along VA side of Potomac River between Key Bridge and 14th Street Bridge, but W&OD path out your way will also work. I used to ski years ago in Blue Knob State Park, but you'll need lots of natural for that, haven't tried their commercial nordic set up, but I know they try open 10+ kilometers of track around their condos near summit of mountain.
ditto. canaan is going to have the most snow out of any other places also. And whitegrass has hands down the most diverse and beautiful terrain there is around also. Open fields and slopes, flat track, glades, trails winding all over and up the mountain to the top and beyond... one incredible mountain from top to bottom.