Extremely approachable, Good snow cover, Variety, Location
VERY small, Lift lines (front)
Ski Liberty is a member of the Liberty/Whitetail/Roundtop consortium. At only 650 feet, it is extremely small, with very short runs. Liberty's location, however, is it's greatest asset. Under two hours from DC and Baltimore, it is close enough to hit after work, ski until the lifts close and still be in bed at a reasonable hour. It is extremely family friendly and an excellent mountain for beginners to gain confidence on. If you keep your expectations small, there are even a few areas that offer some mild challenge for the intermediate to advanced skier or rider. Liberty has 100% snowmaking coverage, which has been performing admirably this year. With little natural snow, the man-made coverage, grooming and conditions have been exceptional.
Liberty essentially boils down to three main areas, the front side, back side and terrain park. The front side is almost all beginner terrain and tends to get crowded through the middle of the day. There is an expansive bunny slope sectioned off by itself, providing a massive area for first-timers to spread out in. A couple of non-threatening green slopes served by the beginner lift provide a good area to gain confidence on. This area is even protected by a speed fence to keeping the more advanced participants from coming off the black slopes at high speed. The long "Dipsy-Doodle" trial gives beginners an opportunity to ski a bit longer run off the peak and provides an easy access chute to the back side. There are a couple of steeper black trails feeding down into the front side that are your standard racing type trails, wide with a decent pitch, they practically beg to be bombed, so much so that "Blue Streak" usually has a speed fence at the bottom forcing you to slow down before entering the beginners area. "White Lightening" is a bit longer with a left turn to a drop on it. Stay to the inside (left) of the turn and you will find a nice steep section that almost always has good snow cover on it. Toward the bottom, you can find an ummarked access chute to the terrain park. The main peak lift is a quad that will tend to get crowded during the main part of the day.
The terrain park is small in size, but packs a good amount of features into it. There are basically five lanes with three to six features on each. Features range from small jibs and jumps to medium-large jumps. There really isn't anything offering huge air and no halfpipe (although, they have a tiny rudimentary pipe toward the left of the park that doesn't really qualify). Toward the bottom, you can sometimes find a little beginner mogul area. A J-bar lift services about half of the terrain area and the main lift has a mid-station serving the other half.
The back side of Liberty is usually the place to go. Featuring intermediate and expert terrain, the two quad lifts are almost always less crowded than the front side, even during the peak days. Coming off the main lift, the easiest accesses to the backside are via "Upper Heavenly" or the "Dipsy Doodle" chute near the bend. "Upper Heavenly" is right in front of the lift with a slightly steeper drop in to the left. Taking a lot of traffic, this trail can tend to get bumpy and icy as it gets later in the day. To get to the expert terrain from the main lift requires an uphill traverse, but given the short length of the runs and relatively light crowds on the back, it is usually easier to head down to the bottom and ride up to an easier access to the experts. The upper part of the back side features three "double-black" trails off the peak - "double black" being a very relative term - which are mildly challenging, but extremely short. "Upper Ultra" is the longest of the three and is usually groomed making it a high-speed bomber. "Upper Eastwind" and "Upper Strata" are very short, but are usually allowed to go to moguls. They have a decent pitch to them and would be nice bump runs if they were longer. "Sidewinder" and "Upper Heavenly" provide intermediate access around the outside to the lower section. The lower section of the back side offers five trails, four of which are standard intermediates with moderate rolling drops on them. "Lower Eastwind" is the most notable, as it is usually allowed to go to moguls and offers a longer bump run that is good to learn and practice mogul skiing on.
Liberty's lodge is fairly standard. It has a food court and pizza place upstairs and a coffee bar/bakery on the first floor for quick fare. Everything is pretty expensive, so picnic lunches are not a bad idea. On nicer days, they offer an outdoor grill on the patio. There is a good sized locker area with four changing rooms, that is a nice feature. Lockers are small/medium/large and are accessed via a computer terminal and entered using a programable code. They are more expensive than coin-op lockers, but offer convenient, unlimited access throughout the day. Liberty recently upgraded much of it's rental gear, so rentals are currently in pretty good shape, although they have been know to run out of equipment on the busiest days. A free ski/board check is provided and is very conveniently located. McKee's Tavern by the Lodge entrance offers table service with pub fare and available adult beverages. A non-descript hotel and snow tubing park round out the base offerings, but the nearby Sleep Inn in Emmittsburg offers much nice accomodations at a lower price.
All totalled, Liberty's tag line "so close to home" pretty much says it all. It is an exceptionally easy to reach mountain for residents of DC, Baltimore, Frederick and Harrisburg. What it has to offer isn't particularly challenging, but it is varied enough that it will keep your interest if all you want is to get out on the snow with minimal travel and hassle. They really aren't trying to be much more than that.