I’m going to admit to you that I have never done any downhill skiing. However, whenever Mother Nature blesses the southern mountains with enough of the white fluffy stuff, as she certainly did just a few days before Christmas, I enjoy putting on the cross-country skis.
The mountains of western Maryland are often overlooked as a place to glide through the woods for a few hours, yet those in the know head for the Herrington Manor State Park to Swallow Falls State Park Trail in Garret County. All but about one mile of the 5.5-mile route is an old tram road that was used for logging in the late 1800s; the somewhat level surface makes the skiing fairly easy. That other mile is a little trickier, but even a novice should be able to negotiate it with little trouble. Running through a mixed evergreen and hardwood forest, the trail sometimes parallels streams whose banks bear the unmistakable signs of beaver activity. Although you may never see the animals, tracks in the snow let you know that deer, wild turkey, and maybe even a black bear may be watching you.
If you have your own skis, I suggest going from Swallow Falls to Herrington Manor. That way you can warm up in the Lake House, where skis are available for rent to those who don’t have their own.
Maps of the parks’ trail systems may be obtained in either park or through www. shopdnr.com.