Ski Resorts Within Driving Distance of Washington

With warm-weather activities such as golf, hiking, and tennis, mountain getaways aren't just for winter. Here are five you might want to consider for your vacation home.

By: Mollie Reilly

You don’t have to brave the airport to find decent ski slopes—nice resorts are within driving distance of Washington. And with warm-weather activities such as golf, hiking, and tennis, mountain getaways aren’t just for winter. Here are five that are fun all year.

Good Deals: Hidden Valley
When Alan Pumphrey and his family, all avid skiers, looked for a second home, finding a good value was a priority. “Compared to other resorts, Hidden Valley was an absolute steal,” says Pumphrey, who lives in Kensington and bought a ski-in/ski-out home in Hidden Valley last year for $295,000.

Pumphrey and his family go to Hidden Valley every weekend in winter—his daughters, ages 8 and 12, are both on a ski team. “On Fridays, we all look forward to getting up there,” he says. “We’ll get a fire in the fireplace, and the kids can ski that night.”

Located in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, about 180 miles from Washington, Hidden Valley has 28 ski/snowboard trails, a newly expanded tubing park, and a fitness center with an indoor pool.

In summer, Hidden Valley’s golf course is popular, as are trips to the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile system of cycling and hiking trails. Donegal, a nearby town of about 2,500, has restaurants and shops.

John Nichols of Northwood Realty Services says condos and townhouses make up most of the housing at Hidden Valley, and new units range from $69,000 to $348,850. Single-family homes—cabin and chalet-style houses are popular—can cost up to $3.5 million.

Among the resort’s new developments are the North Summit condominiums. Three-bedroom, two-bath units are on the market for $325,000. Also new is the Houses at Green Tee, a single-family-home development on the golf course. These preconstruction lots are scheduled to go on the market in the spring.

Hidden Valley Resort, 1 Craighead Dr., Hidden Valley, Pa.; 814-443-8000.


Lots of Powder: Snowshoe
With an average of nearly 200 inches a year, West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain ranks among the area’s top resorts in snowfall totals.

“It’s worth the longer drive,” says George Heffner, a Loudoun County resident who has skiied at Snowshoe since 1987. “The conditions are more like the West Coast—there’s softer powder.”

Five hours from Washington, the resort’s location in the Allegheny Mountains is also a draw. There are 60 ski slopes and a 1,500-foot vertical drop—high compared with other area resorts.

The homes here—a mix of condos, townhouses, and cabins—are situated in a mountaintop village. Most have ski-in/ski-out access. The village also has restaurants, shops, and nightlife. Along with winter sports, there’s mountain biking, fly fishing, rock climbing, and hunting. The resort owns and operates a golf course, ranked by Golfweek as the best public course in West Virginia.

In 2008, Heffner bought a home at Snowshoe’s Black Bear Crossing, a new development that sits on the Powder Ridge slope. Prices at Black Bear start in the low $500,000s for a two-level, four-bedroom townhouse and go up to $1.25 million for a four-level, six- or seven-bedroom home.

Snowshoe Resort, 10 Snowshoe Dr., Snowshoe, W. Va.; 877-441-4386.


Close to Home: Whitetail
When Jim Jamison and his family moved from Florida to Washington in 2001, they started looking for a second home. They settled on Whitetail because of its convenience—the Pennsylvania resort is just over an hour from their home in North Potomac.

“We take huge advantage of being so close,” Jamison says. “There aren’t many places where the whole family would want to go every weekend.”

For Jamison, who bought in the resort’s Northern Lights development, living on the mountain is a big advantage: “I can watch my kids ski from the porch.”

About ten new units remain in the Northern Lights development, a ski-in/ski-out property. The Blairs Ridge development, made up of a mix of chalet and Federal-style condos, has four homes available starting at $230,000.

Whitetail is in Mercersburg, a historic community of 1,500. The resort has taken strides to become a four-season, family-oriented place. Last year, it opened a summertime Adventure Camp, where children can try archery, fly fishing, and kayaking. This winter, there’s a new 1,800-foot trail for beginner skiers.

Whitetail Resort, 13805 Blairs Valley Rd., Mercersburg, Pa.; 717-328-9400.


Lots to Do: Wintergreen
Wintergreen Resort in central Virginia has greatly expanded from the usual ski/snowboard/golf model: It also offers ziplining, year-round tubing, mini-golf, paintball, bungee trampolining, horseback riding, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. It was recently named the country’s number-one tennis resort for families by Tennis magazine, and it has indoor courts for year-round play.

The surrounding area in Nelson County is home to a growing wine industry and will soon boast the area’s first whiskey distillery. Wintergreen is flanked on three sides by George Washington and Shenandoah National Forests and includes 20-acre Lake Monocan Park.

Most brand-new homes in the area are sold preconstruction; half-acre lots usually range from $50,000 to $150,000. The resort’s latest development is the Seasons, where one- and two-bedroom condos are planned; they’re expected to go on the market later this year.

Wintergreen Resort, Rt. 664, Wintergreen, Va.; 434-325-2200.


Lake Access: Wisp
With 52 nieces and nephews, Steve and Sharon Kelly wanted a place where the whole family could gather. For the Kellys, Wisp Resort in Maryland had the right mix of activity and serenity plus easy access for many relatives.

“There’s really something for everybody,” Sharon says. The Kellys bought their home in North Camp, located at the top of the mountain, in 2007.

According to Karen Myers, who runs Wisp’s real-estate division, the area’s cool microclimate and heavy snowfall are a big draw for second-home buyers, as are the many activities. The resort has a fitness center, an ice-skating rink, a “mountain coaster” (a cross between bobsled and a roller coaster), and a Nordic center that offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Lodestone Golf Club, ranked the third-best course in Maryland by Golf magazine, opened last June.

Adjacent to the resort is Deep Creek Lake, with 65 miles of shoreline, where many people choose to buy their second homes. In the summer, Wisp operates a marina where guests can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats.

In and around the resort, log-and-timber frame homes are popular. Two-to-three-bedroom townhouses with slope access go for around $250,000 to $400,000. Single-family homes range from $579,000 for a three-bedroom timber-frame to more than $3 million for a eight-bedroom lakefront property.

Wisp Resort, 296 Marsh Hill Rd., McHenry, Md.; 301-387-4911.

This article first appeared in the February 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

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