Winter conjures up images of frosty snowflakes dancing in midair, skating parties on frozen ponds, sleigh rides and cozy gatherings by fireside. There are, of course, less delightful images, but this is a reminder that those old-fashioned winter scenes still exist whether you find them around the corner or journey a little farther afield.
Many travel west to Maryland's winter vacationland in Garrett County, where snowfalls average about 80 inches a year and winter activities abound. The big attraction there is Wisp Ski Resort on the shores of Deep Creek Lake. Less than 50 years ago Marsh Mountain was no more than a cow pasture, but the years between 1958 and 1965 brought change and the area was transformed into a thriving ski resort. Today it is a mecca for downhill skiers from all over the Mid-Atlantic region with a season that runs from late November until mid- to late March. Its trail system offers 23 slopes and 14 miles of trails, and 90 percent of those slopes and trails have snowmaking equipment.
Daytime hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Other sessions are 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., afternoon; 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., twilight; and 4:40 p.m. to 10 p.m., night. There is no night skiing on Sundays or Mondays. The following rates apply for the 1990-'91 season: $32 adult, $19 child, all day weekends; $67 adults, $40 child, Saturdays, Saturday nights and Sundays; $21 adults, $14 child, Saturdays or Sunday afternoons or Saturday ,, nights; $32 adult, $19 child, Saturday twilight; $99 adult, $59 child for three-day holidays; $27 adult, $16 child, all day or twilight midweek; $17 adult, $13 child, afternoons or nights midweek.
The latest winter sport of snowboarding is gaining popularity at Wisp, and on Saturday the Mid-Atlantic Snowboard Series will be held there. Races will begin at 10 a.m., and prizes and awards are given to competitors on a points system with grand prizes awarded to point leaders.
Also next weekend the Washington Ski International Race Series will take place Saturday and Sunday. Other events at the resort are the Wisp Cup, Feb. 2; the Blue Ridge Race Series, Feb. 16 and 17; Maryland Governor's Cup Races, Feb. 23 and 24; Winterfest, Feb. 22 to March 3; Scholastic Races, March 1; and Mid-Atlantic Snowboard Series Championships, March 2.
For information, call (301) 387-4911. For an updated report on ski conditions, call (301) 387-4000.
Several miles of marked trails can be found in the state's forests for cross country skiing. Ski trails are open in Garrett County at New Germany State Park in Grantsville, (301) 895-5453, and Herrington Manor State Park in Oakland, (301) 334-9180, with trails ranging from beginner to most difficult. New Germany is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. When trails are in good condition there is a $2 fee per person on weekends and holidays; other days admission is free. Herrington Manor is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Both parks have cabins for rent and warming huts with food concessions. The cabins are a popular choice for weekend getaways, so be sure to call ahead to check availability. Ski equipment can be rented right in the park at Herrington Manor and just outside the park at New Germany (take Exit 24, make a left, then a right on Lower New Germany Road). Call (301) 689-8515.
The annual Kick and Glide Cross-Country Ski Race will be held Saturday at Herrington Manor. The freestyle adult race will begin at 10 a.m. and will be followed immediately by children's races. The course is about 8km for adults (a kilometer is about 5/8 mile) and about one mile for children. Entry fees are $5 for adults; $1 for children under 12. For information, call (301) 334-9180.
The New Germany 8K and Novice Cross-Country Ski Race is set for Feb. 2. Registration will take place from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and the race will begin at 10 a.m. over varying terrain. There will also be a children's race of about one mile and a tots' race of 1/8 mile. An awards ceremony will be held after the race. For information, call (301) 895-5453.
Snowmobiling is favored by those who like to venture out alone on snow-covered trails through quiet woods and fields. Snowmobiling is permitted at Savage River State Forest in Grantsville, (301) 895-5759, and Potomac/Garrett State Forest in Deer Park, (301) 334-2038. These two parks encompass some 70,000 acres of public land and when snow-covered are fine for snowmobiles. A number of trails, ranging from two to 18 miles, have been established throughout these forests.
One such trail, the Meadow Mountain Trail, begins about three miles east of Grantsville at the northern boundary of Savage River State Forest and rises and falls along the scenic, tree-lined crest of Meadow Mountain for 18 miles. An access trail can be found at New Germany State Park, where parking is permitted. One other site for snowmobiling in Western Maryland is Green Ridge State Forest in Flintstone, (301) 777-2345.