Whitetail

by: jeffgraham - Feb 16, 2011

  • Overall Rating 3
  • Family Friendly 4
  • All-Mtn. Terrain 3
  • Terrain Park 3
  • Nightlife 1

    Pros: Trail Length, Layout

    Cons: Congestion at base, Few Diamonds

    Recommended For: Family Friendly

    Date Visited: Jan 1, 2011


Full review

Whitetail is the largest of the three mountain consortium of Whitetail, Liberty and Roundtop. With a nearly 1000 foot vertical drop, it offers fairly long runs by PA standards. The layout is extremely family friendly and organized. They offer a very large bunny slope with multiple lifts servicing it to the far left of the mountain. The beginner area is to the right of that and offers three or four trails on a confined ridge served by a single lift. The Intermediate area is the next to the right offering four fairly long runs off the peak, served by a high-speed quad. The expert area on the far right of the mountain is served by it's own quad chair and is accessed by the steep "Drop In" trail. There is no way - short of walking - to access the expert area from the base. This layout makes for a very family friendly and unthreatening mountain. There is really no way anyone can wander into terrain over their head and accidentally find themselves trapped. Even if you do find yourself in the expert area, excape trials at the top and bottom offer an easy out. On it's face, this layout makes Whitetail seem a very good place to learn to ski.

The downside of this layout, however, is severe congestion at the base, especially in the beginners' area. Usually by 10:30 in the morning, lines will build on the beginner lift and by lunchtime the waits will usually be prohibitive (upwards of 20-30 minutes to get on the lift). Lines will also build for the larger intermediate area, but the high-speed quad lift is much better able to keep up, so the wait times are much shorter. Still, with only four slopes to handle the uphill capacity there tends to be a lot of crowding in the intermeidate terrain, particularly at the top and on the wide "Limelight" trail under the lift. The expert terrain tends to be more manageable, being somewhat seperated from the rest of the mountain. The steep entry to the expert area deters most of the novices, so the area tends to stay reasonably uncrowded with a decent skill level.

The terrain itself is average for the region. "Sidewinder" in the beginner area tends to get very crowded with novices around mid-day, so it is wise to stick to the wide open slopes under the lifts instead. The beginner area also offers a small terrain park with little features to learn on. Occasionally, they even build in a small mogul area near the top. The four long intermediate runs are standard fare. They are all fairly wide with rolling drops on them. As I said, "Limelight" tends to get crowded, so it is usually better to stick to "Fanciful" and "Snow Dancer". The "Home Run" trail accesses both the expert area and the terrain park, so it tends to have a higher speed and will get skied off to ice and moguls late in the day. The expert area has a nice, albeit limited variety. "Far Out" is little more than an intermediate trail with a slightly steeper section toward the bottom and tends to take most of the traffic. "Exhibition" under the lift line is usually a long top-to-bottom mogul field that is one of the longer and more challenging ones in the area. The double-black "Bold Decision" (double black being a very relative term), offers a couple of fairly steep drops and is a good trail for speed demons. The double black designation tends to keep traffic pretty light, although there is really little reason to avoid it. The terrain park nestled between the blue and black areas offers a good variety of featues and is served by it's own lift. Although, there is no direct access to the terrain lift from the base, many will trudge up the hill to access it, rather than wait on the long lines to enter from the top.

With a western face and little cover, Whitetail has tended to ski very icy at times this year and at it's worst we have seen scads of rescue sleds coming off the mountain some days. It is wise to check conditions and be sure to ski under control and within your ability to handle them when the conditions deteriorate. The lodge is a good size, but does tend to get crowded, so it's usually a good idea to have an early or late lunch. Prices at the food court are exhobitant, so you might want to consider a picnic lunch. There is no pub, no alcohol service and few off-site establishments at Whitetail, so it really is only about the skiing.

Whitetail is what it is. It's an average mountain that offers fair skiing very close to DC and Baltimore. It's not great, but it is very easy to access for a family day trip and doesn't really contend to be anything but that.

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