Garrett County is where winter is

Skiing is only one of the cold-weather activities

Outside: sports, activities, events

December 25, 2003|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Looking for the real winter?

You know -- the one with cold temperatures, scenic snowfalls and lots of cool (pardon the pun) stuff to do?

Head west to Garrett County.

Less than three hours from Baltimore, Deep Creek Lake and the surrounding communities offer more winter activities than you may realize. There's skiing, of course, but also snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice sailing and dunking to satisfy the adventurous types. More sedate pastimes include ice skating, snowshoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

With an annual snowfall of up to 220 inches (80-90 inches on average), let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Dunking

Sixth Annual Maryland State Police Deep Creek Dunk. Hundreds of people brave the frigid waters of Deep Creek Lake in support of Special Olympics of Maryland. Register at noon, dunk at 2 p.m. Feb. 21. Held behind Uno's Chicago Bar & Grill, U.S. 219. $50 minimum donation for dunkers; spectators admitted free. Information, 800-541-7544, Ext. 3021, or visit www.somd.org

Hiking

Winter Family Fun Hike. Easy 1 1/4 mile hike in Swallow Falls State Park. Sights include the highest waterfall in Maryland -- 53-foot Muddy Creek Falls -- so bring your camera. If trail is icy, instep crampons provided. Hot cocoa at end. Bring your own lunch/snacks and drinking water. Wear winter footwear. All ages. $10, under 5 free. 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Meet in Swallow Falls State Park parking lot, 222 Herrington Lane, Oakland. Reservations, Camp Earth, 800-446-7554.

Walk on the Wild Side. Moderate 2 1/2 -mile hike through the "wild lands" of Savage River State Forest. Great views, learn local lore. 2 p.m. Saturdays. $15. Reservations, Elk Ridge Natureworks, 301-895-3686.

Wings and Things Walk. Search for plants and animals -- or evidence they were there, during this moderate 2 1/2 -mile hike. 9:30 a.m. Sundays. $15. 6 people maximum. Elk Ridge Natureworks, 301-895-3686.

Sleigh rides

Fantasy Valley. At Wisp resort (296 Marsh Hill Road, McHenry. www.skiwisp.com or 301-387-4911). Half-hour rides 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Jan. 4 and on weekends through the season. Also offered on federal holidays. Private groups may rent 18-seat sleigh after 6 p.m. $10 adults, $5 kids. Reservations, 301-616-8406.

Pleasant Valley Dream Rides. Various dates, times and locations, including moonlight rides. $10, under 3 free. Reservations, 301-334-9612.

Ice fishing

Rent an ice auger for drilling hole ($5 a day). Other supplies (poles, live bait, etc.) available for purchase ($15 and up). Weekly tournament recognizes largest fish caught. State fishing license required. Information on guide services available, Deep Creek Outfitters, 1899 Deep Creek Drive, McHenry. 301-387-6977.

Running

Uno's Snowflake Chase. 5 Mile Run and 2 Mile Fun Walk/Run. Benefits Big Brothers/Big Sisters. 8:30 a.m. registration, 10 a.m. race, Jan. 24. Deep Creek Lake State Park, 898 State Park Road, Swanton. $15 by Jan. 18, $20 after. $2 extra for XXL shirt. No refunds. Complimentary pizza lunch for participants at Uno's Chicago Bar & Grill, U.S. 219. Family and friends pay $5. Call 301-359-9579 or visit www. iplayoutside.com.

Ice skating

Lace up those old skates. Rink in Fantasy Valley at Wisp opens tomorrow. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Jan. 4 and Friday through Sunday the rest of the season. Open on federal holidays. $2 admission benefits United Way of Garrett County. Limited skate rentals, $5. Information, 301-387-5635.

Sledding

Herrington Manor State Park. Bring your sled or rent one ($3-$6). Several runs. 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Closed today. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays, lit trail and bonfire. Hot chocolate and snacks for sale. 222 Herrington Lane, Oakland. Reservations required for night sessions, 301-334-9180.

Snowboarding

Devil's Arena Terrain Park. Open daily through the winter at Wisp. Try to master the Super Pipe, a 400-foot-long carved run with 15-foot snow walls on each side. Lessons and equipment rentals available. Lift tickets, $26-$138 age 12 and up, $21-$99 children 6 to 11. Equipment rental and lesson extra. Visit www.skiwisp.com to buy lift tickets online or call 301-387-4911.

Snowmobiling

Guided Tours. Hour tour through Fantasy Valley at Wisp resort on a two-person snowmobile. Daylight tours offered daily through Jan. 4, then Friday through Sunday rest of season. Federal holiday weekends, tours during the day and at night at nearby state park. $65 first rider, $15 passenger. Rider must be 18 or older, passenger must be at least 6 years old and 42 inches tall. Advance reservations preferred, 301-387-4911, Ext. 2160. Weekend and holiday day-of reservations, 301-387-5635. Non-refundable 24 hours prior to scheduled reservation.

Savage River State Forest. Must have current Maryland Department of Natural Resources off-road vehicle license to use public trails. No open riding. License available at forest office, 349 Headquarters Lane, Grantsville. Call 301-895-5759.

Snowshoeing

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