What is everyone's favorite ski area in the mid atlantic and why?
I'll start off with giving my number one ranking to Blue Knob PA. I have been a bit frustrated with their lack of snowmaking, however their terrain cannot be matched. Blue Knob in my opinion has the best begginer, advanced, and expert trail in the Mid Atlantic. I believe that the 2 mile Mambo Alley is the #1 begginer trail in the mid atlantic. Stemboggen and Lower Shortway could both take the top prize for the #1 advanced trail both being very narrow, windy,interesting and remind me of the classic New England style trails. Blue Knob unquestionably has the #1 expert trails. You could take your pick between the steep mogul filled Extrovert or one of the numerous lower mountain glades. Snowshoe would probably be second, however their advanced and Expert terrain is a bit limited and boring compared to Blue Knob. Also Blue Knob's trails are much longer than Snowshoe's with the exception of the Western Territory.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Blue Knob, but here's a question for you: How would you define mid-Atlantic? Does it include the NC ski areas and the ski areas in the Poconos in northeastern Pa?
mid atlantic is from New Jersey to Georgia
including PA.W.VA.,VA.MARYLAND,TENNESSEE AND
I would agree with OT however I am unfamiliar with resorts south of Virginia, I have also never been to Intrawest's Mountain Creek(formerly Vernon Valley Great Gorge) as well as a few places in the Poconos. However I still stick behind my ranking.
My family learned to ski and board at Beech Mtn. NC which has 15 trails 2nd largest in NC and a good place to learn .This year we went to Snowshoe and now we are spoiled its definately our favorite.
Bill Clapper of AMI News writes Best snow all
year award. No questions taken,no arguments
listened to.The winner is Snowshoe Mt. Resort
Bill states very few resorts in thr East make
snow like the mountaineers of Snowshoe.To go
with the snow Snowshoe also recieved the most
challenging terrain award.These comments are
taken from a column in MY ATLANTIC!
BY BILL CLAPPER
I have no arguments against Snowshoe's snow, conditions, snowmaking and length of season. However I find it hard to understand how one can say that the terrain is more difficult than Blue Knob. I get the feeling that the Clapper guy has never skied the lower mountain at Blue Knob. Denis Bogan, a renowed writer for First Tracks Online Magazine has written that Blue Knob's Extrovert trail"is the only true double black diamond south of New York." The only way I guess he could give that award to Snowshoe is that Snowshoe had more Black Diamonds open than any resort in the mid atlantic. However, many of Snowshoe's diamonds would be blue squares at Blue Knob. Whenever I go to Snowshoe I always see skiers going down their"diamonds" in a snowplow, obviously showing me that the slope is not "advanced"
I also read Bill Clapper's column and I took it as you have to be open to be rated. Despite only receiving 117 inches of natural snow, Snowshoe was 100% open from early January to close (the latest of any resort in the region). If a trail depends on natural snow to be open, it wasn't open for many days in the mid-atlantic this year. It's tough to have fun on any trail beginner to expert if it's not open. Nobody covers terrain with as much snow and as quick as the snowmakers at the Snowshoe and Silver Creek areas.
Blue Knob did have an extremely poor snow year with warm weather, and did not make snow on much of their lower mountain even on trails that did have snowmaking capablity(Extremely Frustrating!). However many of Snowshoe's "black diamonds" would be blues at other places like Blue Knob. I can think of three blue squares(Deer Run, Upper and Lower Expressway) at Blue Knob that are just as hard if not harder then many of the "advanced" trails at Snowshoe. Also many of the upper mountain glades opened at Blue Knob for a fairly long period of time due to wind blowing snow in from trails which are deemed advanced. Add lower high hopes and super steep car size moguled Extrovert trail and I believe Blue Knob wins my award over Snowshoe in terms of Challenge even this year. Give Blue Knob an average snow year, and they would leave Snowshoe in the dust for challenge.
I am still interested in other peoples favorite ski areas, I see that Snowshoe is extremely popular.
Snowshoe is it without a doubt. Its simply in a different league than any other ski hill south of NY. Thats true whether you consider scope, terrain variety, annual snowfall, snowmaking capability, or (gasp) vertical drop, even if it is only on the backside. And while it is true that a number of the Shoe's black diamonds are a bit suspect in difficulty, rating inflation (aka flat blacks) is a recurring problem across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. However, what is definitely not inflated is the difficulty of Lower Shay's, the new trail on the back side. It is as steep and difficult as most expert slopes at Northeast resorts, better than anything I've seen south of NY, and (unlike most other areas' expert terrain) was open, skiing hard and fast on the last weekend in march. Hard to beat.
No argument Snowshoe Mt. Cupp Run opened top
to bottom 12/24/99 SHAY'S opened top to bottom 12/30/99 they both stayed open a 100%
until 4/02/00 while almost all resorts south
of New York closed early March or mid-March.
Also Snowshoe was the first resort in the
region to open and stay open!!
One of the things I look for in a ski area is the apres-ski activities available in the area and my ability to do them without turning on the car's ignition. Don't get me wrong, I will ski aggressively for six or seven hours. But there must be other things to do especially if I'm there for a long weekend. In this area, Snowshoe is tops. From a four-star restaurant to a beer dive, I can get there without driving. Once the village is complete, it will be unparalelled in the amenities department.
On the snow quality -- Although the Shoe's orography has the potential for some excellent diamonds and double diamonds, Intrawest has just begun to take advantage of it in their expansion of the area. I was a bit disappointed to hear the new expansion will feature primarily greens and blues, but on the other hand it may loosen the congestion on the few "blacks" they have left.
While I didn't know that Snowshoe announced their plans for trail expansion, if it is just going to be some more boring blues and greens I will be extremely disappointed. Everyone is right on when they praise the snowmaking, coverage and quantity of runs. However the quality of runs is very poor. As mentioned in another topic Snowshoe's trails are just wide boring "snowmaking fields". Its a shame that Snowshoe does not want to capitalize on their abundent snowfalls to make trails unique to the area. I would hope that they would invest the same amount of money and expansion on their slopes as they have done to the resort.
The last plans I heard involved (1) expansion across the lake to the face on the other side -- that would be mostly beg/intermed, (2) a couple additional trails near Cupp -- hard to imagine that not being expert, and (3) reopening of the Hawthorne Valley area (new lift) -- also expert. Is there newer information?
I have to say I find it hard to see Shay's as a wide, boring snowmaking field. Intrawest clearly went in the right direction by making that one of the first new slopes they cut. A few more like that and the Shoe becomes undisputedly a great expert mountain (for the mid-Atlantic!). But of course we'll never have the Vermont-style narrow winding motif here. Snowshoe gets a lot of snow but it is unfortunately punctuated by rain and warm temperatures throughout the season (it is WV, after all). Snowmaking is essential to keep slopes open in the Mid-Atlantic and the economics of snowmaking don't justify installation unless it is a wider trail that makes a difference in mountain capacity. I'd rather be skiing on a wide, open trail than standing looking at a closed, narrow trail.
My new favorite resort is Laurel Mountain PA. The place just opened up, and the terrain that has snowmaking is only on a limited amount of terrain. However I went during early Febuary and had a great time. My favorite trail was Lower Wildcat which was very steep,moguled, and fairly long for mid atlantic standards. The trails are a lot longer then at nearby Seven Springs and Hidden Valley. Even their natural ski trails were open but I had the most fun in the woods. THese glades weren't marked but they were many people were in them and a lot powder too. THe place is small but has a big vertical drop and is catered towards skiing. The lift tickets are only 20 dollars on weekdays and the price for lunch was unexpectedly low for a ski area. THis isn't a corporate ski mountain like Seven Springs, but everyone there is extremely enthusiastic about the place and the service was impecable. Except for a few A Frame houses I saw there isn't any lodging at the resort but it doesn make a great destination for a day trip.
You might think I'm crazy, but my favorite resort is Massanutten. I go to JMU, which is only 20 min. away so I go there all the time. They got one of the best snowboard parks around. Which I know doesn't mean a lot to most of you because you ski, but if you snowboard Massanuttens snowboard park is the place to be. Other than that I must say Snowshoe puts all the resorts to shame when it comes to the overall quaility of a resort. Even though I have not been to most of the resorts in the area I know that Snowshoe is way better than the others when it comes to the overall quality. Just because it doesn't have the best black diamonds its not a bad resort. If you complain about the crowds there all you have to do is go to Silvercreek and I guarantee you will not have to wait more than five minutes for a lift. The terrain at Silvercreek is just as good as Snowshoe with exclusion to the Western terriotory. When it comes to off the slope activities no other resort can hang with Snowshoe. Intrawest has made Snowshoe a first class resort that no other resort in the Mid-Atlantic can hang with. The best part about it is Intrawest keeps improving Snowshoe more and more every year.
I disagree with Norsks assumption that Snowshoe could never have Vermont style trails or glades. Blue Knob had its upper glades open for a good amount of the season as did Timberline WV. These aren't the best glades I've ever skied through but they were natural. A better argument is WHitegrass Touring Center in WV. This a telemark/XC ski place thats based at an old ski area. IT has many windy narrow trails, steep glades, and other extreme terrain. They had all of there terrain open for 30 days in this warm dry winter. That is all based on natural snow there is no snowmaking. This type of terrain will obviously not be open as long as some of the snowmaking fields but during mid winter there will be something to entertain skiers who are sick of wide straight boring trails. It will also give expert skiers a reason to drive out to Snowshoe during the prime season.
No one asked, but in case you're wondering exactly where are some of those long, winding New England style trails...some of the neatest I've seen in recent years can be found at Wildcat Ski area next to Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. They have some really epic/non-boring advanced intermediate cruisers there and plenty of BK-Lower 66 & High Hopes type gnarly bump runs, also gladed areas and wild stuff following some of their frozen stream beds. I don't know that I'd recommend a week there, but it's an interesting place if you stumble into that far corner of eastern ski country someday.
I was at Wildcat and Attitash in late March and really had a great time. I was very impressed with how long the trails were with long steep pitches and the most amazing view I have ever seen. It was also so much higher than Attitash which gave it a lot more natural stuff. Unfortunately a lot of the lift lines and glades weren't open. Unlike Snowshoe, the place seemed to cater more to skiers/snowboards and the trails seemed to have a lot of character to them.
Wow! good point! thanks for the info
I would have to say that my favorite resort in the mid-atlantic is seven springs, PA. I've had quite a few good trips there, they just seem to have some of the best conditions around. Combine that with their variety of trails, and you have a pretty good resort. It sucks now that I have to ride at snowbird, utah this year, because i wont be able to ride at 7springs. I guess I'll get over it though
Have a good season,
Hey, rub it in!
Oh well, a little compressed air and water can go a long way..
Well, snowbird, I'll think about you this March at Zermatt and St. Moritz where I'll be spending the entire month...
But... getting back to the mid-Atlantic, it's great news to have at least Snowshoe letting their snow guns do their thing. I'll be there this weekend but unfortunately a week too early for swooshing down the slopes. That will have to wait for one more week.
this is a great topic. I just moved to DC from Raleigh, NC & would also like to know what people think is the best day-trip from DC. By this I mean which of the closer (under 3 hours drive) resorts to DC are the best in the area of terrain/conditions, rather than resort amenities. Let me know your suggestions...
Which brings me back to this topic. From what I've visited in the mid-A region, snowshoe is hands down the best. All of the reasons have pretty much been covered here. My biggest gripe is the dizzying rise in prices lately (see the topic "my 2 cents" which I inadvertantly started).
Also, everything in NC is lame (I went to college at ASU in Boone, & had plenty of exposure to NC hills). Each area has extremely limited terrain, the people are packed like sardines, tons of people from the deep south who have never seen snow, low lift capacity, etc. All this leads to extremely restricted riding, & ski patrol will bust your A#* in a second for excessive speed. Unless you're an extreme novice or live less than an hour from one of NC's hills, don't waste your time.
Just to let you know, check out the shoe's website for some killer deals! Lift tickets for a group of 10 or more are only $20 bucks this week and $25 this weekend for Demo weekend. And over %50 of the trails are open already (with kick butt conditions) with a cold and snowy week ahead! From what I hear, Cupp will open Saturday.