I was delighted with the conditions at Whitetail, only 1 ½ hours from DC. I drove there to do a little skiing on a day trip. I taught skiing there many years ago and I think that it’s a great ski area so near to Washington, D.C.
It’s really easy to get to Whitetail from the D.C. area, Baltimore or Northern Virginia, where I live. It’s all super highway. You take the beltway (495) north to Rt. 270 and go west on Rt. 70 and get off just passed Hagerstown at Clear Spring. It’s only six minutes from the interstate, just over the line from Maryland in Pennsylvania. The county road is well marked with snow flake signs. I got a little nostalgic as I neared the ski area. The road looked a little like it could have been a back road in Vermont.
When I got to Whitetail, I looked up the hill and liked what I saw. There was no liftline and the sun was shining. Whitetail isn’t the biggest ski area in the world BUT it’s 50% taller (900 vertical ft.) that anything else within an easy drive.
It although it was a Friday, the lodge was buzzing with skiers putting on their boots and other gear. Later, I found out that this was a school holiday for Fairfax County.
I skied up to the chair and only had to wait a couple of minutes. Needless to say, I had a great time. I didn’t run into any of my old friends this weekend, but I did make a few new ones at this friendly little mountain.
The high-speed quad chairlift whisked me up to the mountain in no time at all. The slopes weren’t crowded and the snow was perfect. It was groomed flat as a pancake and in great shape. It was just the way I like it. I skied over to the back side and spent all morning riding up the Expert Choice Quad. I enjoyed run after run on nice snow that didn’t offer any surprises and the lift line was short when I first got there. As the day progresses, the lift line got longer and longer, so I opted for the singles line. Sometimes I had to wait as much as three minutes, just long enough to catch my breath.
I had expected a lot more people on the slopes, based on the cars in the parking lot. I went back to Expert Choice Quad After lunch and quickly made it up the mountain thanks to the singles lift line.
Whitetail has state-of-the art snowmaking equipment with 100 million gallons of water stored in a reservoir and pumped to the mountain via cooling tanks, and a computerized snowmaking system to tell the snowmakers just what settings to use, Whitetail can make snow when other ski areas can only pray.
For people who have never ever skied or ridden a snowboard, there is a package deal which includes lift ticket, equipment rental, and lessons for a few dollars more than a lift ticket alone. The ski school has a very talent crew who is experienced in teaching skiers and snowboarders of all levels. By taking advantage of this introductory package, the new skier can learn the basics for a very reasonable price. They sell 4-hour and 8-hour ski passes, so you can save some money if you don’t want to ski all day. In addition, they have night skiing under the lights for those that get there late.
Novices access Whitetail’s beginner trails by using the U-Me double chairlift which allows them to ski Velvet and Almost Home. The Lift-Off Quad will bring a beginner to Northern Lights and Fist Track. All of these trails are gentle and wide, a perfect place to learn to ski or board.
For the more experienced skier or snowboarder, there is the Easy-Rider Quad and Whitetail Express Quad that whisk you to intermediate trails that vary from groomed snow to moguls. The trails off the Easy Rider Quad are well groomed and easier to ski than the slopes accessed by the Express Quad.
Once a skier masters Snow Park and Stalker, they are ready to ride the Express Quad and sample the more advanced intermediate trails. The trails this chairlift accesses, offers over 2/3 of a mile of groomed slopes with a very consistent pitch. Limelight is an intermediate slope that runs right under the chairlift. Fanciful, off to the left, often offers a mixture of moguls and groomed intermediate terrain. Snow Dancer is between Fanciful and Limelight and has a surface that varies, but Limelight is usually groomed smooth, as is Angledrop and Home Run. As the day goes by, small moguls will build up but they are often groomed away in time for night skiing.
The intermediate terrain serviced by the Express Quad is an excellent place to improve your skiing skills, or just have fun cruising the mountain. There is a NASTAR course on Angledrop for those that enjoy racing. I road up the chair with a few proud parents who were there to see their kids race and make a few turns themselves.
They have an alpine park with a halfpipe on the intermediate Stalker Trail. The alpine park features a number of snow-made components like tabletops, tunnels, jumps, spines and mailbox slides and rails and other stationary objects where the “gnarly” can take a really “hard hit”. They have added lots of obstacles formed from snow, to vary the terrain of the park. If you’re looking for some “hard hits” and “rad air,” these improvements at Whitetail will really turn you on.
For those advanced skiers, there is the Expert’s Choice Quad, which is accessed by a short steep trail called Drop In, which comes off the left side of Angledrop. This chairlift brings you to the “Black Diamond” terrain at Whitetail, providing almost a 1/2 mile of the most challenging terrain within an hour of the beltway. The expert trails are called Bold Decision, Exhibition and Farside. These expert slopes will provide enough steep terrain and bumps to gratify any advanced skier. The lift line is usually the short and the skiing thrill factor long.
If you are a skier or snowboarder and are in the DC or Baltimore area, head up to Whitetail even if there is no snow on your door step. I guarantee Whitetail will keep you in shape for the big mountains in New England, Europe and the Rockies.