Better Conditions and Trail Counts The Further North You Go

First Trax

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We’ve been reporting on the ski conditions across the Southeast and Mid Atlantic for 12 previous seasons and MOST of the time what you’ll find at individual ski areas across the region are pretty similar conditions. There’s always somewhat more snow and somewhat better conditions the further north you go, but THIS SEASON – at least right now – there is a huge difference in conditions from North to South.

The top question of today is simple. You’re asking us "Where are the best conditions right now?" That is ALWAYS the hardest to answer and not because all of the resorts have equal conditions, because right now they simply don’t. The question is hard to answer because ALL of the resort staffers are working AS HARD AS THEY CAN with the resources that they have available to them. ONE of those resources is snow base. Other variables are the type of terrain they have, the alignment to the sun, etc. Obviously. the most important ingredient are temperatures and natural snowfall. …and THAT is where we have seen A LOT more of a variance this season than most.

Over the last week and some change, we have seen temps in the 40s and 50s into North Carolina with some close to 60°, while areas in West Virginia and Maryland have been in the 30s. This morning we’re seeing temps in the mid 40s in Banner Elk, while Wisp Resort in Maryland is reporting 28°. IT IS WHAT IT IS….

You guys always expect us to answer the hard questions though, so we’ll say it this way:

If you haven’t decided where to go, then the best conditions right now are in West Virginia and Maryland where Wisp has 18 trails and some frozen granular conditions…and Snowshoe Mountain is offering FIFTY TRAILS and snow in the forecast!   The resorts in Virginia are much the same as North Carolina with maybe slightly more snow.  Bryce looks pretty good right now.  Tennessee’s Ober Gatlinburg is closed and North Carolina’s Sapphire Valley has yet to open. Elsewhere in North Carolina, Appalachian. Cataloochee and Wolf look pretty decent. Sugar Mountain has the most terrain and even with some thin coverage offers pretty good coverage for today. If you are ALREADY in your accommodations at one of the ski areas, then go out and enjoy what they have! You WILL have fun and you WILL enjoy your day!

Top choice for today would simply be anywhere in WV or MD. 

Let’s go see what’s happening today… 

<Wisp has plenty of snow and good coverage top to bottom

Wisp Resort is reporting 28° but no snowmaking happening?!?! They are open today until 9pm with 18 of 35 trails and they debut their Bear Claw Tubing Park today. Additionally they have their terrain park and Mountain Coaster open today with pretty nice conditions.

Snowshoe Mountain is reporting 31° and 50 of 60 trails open for today! They offer snow tubing, terrain parks, night skiing and pretty darn nice conditions for their birthday weekend! Laura Parquette writes, "We kicked off the weekend yesterday with our 35th Birthday Celebration, and it seems our wish for colder weather has come true! This morning’s temperatures are hovering near freezing, and we shouldn’t get to 40 degrees today. It looks like we may still have some precipitation, but it should fall as freezing rain, a wintery mix, or possibly even SNOW! Silver Creek opened for the season yesterday. With the addition of 17 trails in that area, we now have 51 slopes open…that’s almost 90% of our available terrain."

Winterplace Resort is skiing on 12 trails for day and night sessions. Snow tubing is closed as are the terrain parks, but the conditions are pretty darn good. They have some terrain features open in the Wanderer slope.

Canaan Valley is at 35° and will only be open for day skiing and tubing today. Look for 8 trails open and what should be some good conditions.

<Timberline’s webcams are showing some nice snow as well and they are our Photo of the Day!

Timberline Resort has not updated their report for Saturday so we’ll say that they will offer 16 trails and good conditions for today.

Bryce Resort is holding or standing pat with 6 trails available for day sking for today. They look to be in good shape with plenty of snow via their live cams.

Massanutten Resort is open for day and night sessions on 5 trails and 6 lanes of tubing.

Wintergreen Resort has 6 trails open and the tubing hill as well until 10pm. 

Appalachian get "BEST SNOW" in NC!>

Appalachian Ski Mountain – These guys are THE BEST BET for the best conditions today in North Carolina. We were watching as App was grooming in the pitch, black dark of the early morning hours this morning. They have 8 of 10 trails open with only "Hard Core" and "Thin Slice" (two blacks diamonds) closed for now. App also has ice skating and both terrain parks open. NO BARE SPOTS or THIN COVERAGE and things look pretty good heading into the Christmas week. They are reporting a base of 25-48". They should be able to be fully open for the Christmas Holiday period.

Cataloochee Ski Area is at 46° this AM and they will offer 5 of 14 trails again today for day and night sessions. Cat looks purrrr-ty nice (get it). Anyway, they will have some thin areas here and there, but overall good skiable terrain for today and tonight…and as Tammy Brown reminds us, "With these upcoming cold temperatures we will begin making snow again as quickly as temperatures permit this weekend in order to improve conditions and add additional terrain for your holiday skiing and riding. Please remember with Cataloochee’s continued investment in the latest in snowmaking technology and capacity, our automatic system can literally allow us to open additional terrain and regain our base depth in one night."

Sapphire Valley Ski Area – After their shortest season on record (last season) they have yet had the weather to open for this season. They report, "The ski area will open as soon as weather allows. We have had unseaonably warm/wet weather, but forecast to change soon. Frozen Falls tube park is now open weekends for snow tubing fun!Again, as weather permits. Call ahead for hours and slope conditions." 

<This thin strip joins the middle part of Lower Shawneehaw with the bottom of the mountain at Ski Beech

Ski Beech is reporting 39° this AM, and they are barely holding on with one thin strip connecting Lower Shawneehaw to the lower portions of the mountain which actually looks okay. These guys are doing the best that they can with what they’ve got. They have 4 trails open with bare spots and lots of thin coverage. They will be among the first to crank up the snowguns with their improved system and 5506′ elevations so things will vastly and quickly improve on Sunday afternoon, but it won’t be pretty today… The ice rink is open today as well. 

Sugar is looking very good despite the rain on Friday!>

Sugar Mountain – 37° – From Highway 184 on Friday, these guys were looking rough. This morning we zoomed in from the Extreme Snowboard and Ski cam and it is amazing how much better they look. They have 11 of 20 trails open and although there will be some thin coverage areas and bare spots, there is plenty of decent terrain to ride. They have their huge ice rink open as well. 

Wolf Ridge Resort – We watched as some young skiers were "snow plowing" down at 8:20am this morning (a few early turns are always fun!) and they have 4 of 20 trails open for day and night sessions. Their tubing hill is open as well. Wolf’s snowcats were pushing snow around this morning and they look decent for today.


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