by Graham Averill
In a perfect world, you’d have time to ski all 16 Southeastern resorts in one season. It’s a beautiful dream that most likely will never happen. Forget work and other obligations, we only have three months of skiable weather down here. With a 90-day window to take your turns, you can’t ski it all. You have to be picky. Ski the best and forget the rest. And here they are-the best ski runs in the Southeast. From beginner cruisers to heart-stopping blacks, these are the slopes that make powder junkies weak in the knees.
Salamander: Timberline Resort, W.Va. Most green runs in these parts are stuck at the bottom of the hill. Salamander, however, starts from the top of Timberline and cruises down the edge of the mountain for almost two miles. It’s the longest run in the Southeast and it is without a doubt the best green run around. Take your time, this is a cruiser. www.timberlineresort.com.
Easy Street Terrain Park: Massanutten, Va. When you think beginner runs, you usually don’t think of the t-park, but Mass has developed an entry level park that anyone with a few lessons under their belt can partake in. You never know what’s in store for you in the park because the crew keeps it fresh, but all the features are beginner friendly. The jumps are a little softer, the rails a little lower, and it has its own lift. www.massresort.com.
Possum: Wisp, Md. Possum is a great run on its own (1.5 miles through the trees) but this year it’s gotten better thanks to the addition of the North Camp. Possum borders Wisp’s brand new trail system offering new skiers the chance to hit seven additional cherry green runs that descend gently between the trees. www.skiwisp.com.
Oz: Beech Mountain, N.C. (http://basecamp.blueridgeoutdoors.com/?p=2578). Many people ski Beech but few of them know about Oz. This long cruiser drops off the backside of the mountain before hanging a dogleg through the trees. It’s natural snow only, but it sees less crowds than the rest of Beech’s runs, so you can take your turns in private. www.skibeech.com. Snow Bowl: Winterplace, W.Va. This could be the only true bowl in the Southeast. It’s big, wide, and the corners of this slope curve inward just like the bowls out west. You get bumps, steeps, and powder stashes all on the same run. It’s everything an intermediate wants out of life. www.winterplace.com. Weiss Meadow: Canaan Resort, W.Va. Did someone say powder glades? This open slope catches the majority of the snow when it falls on Canaan and collects it in big, puffy pillows of white goodness. Powder skiing is hard to find around here, and this is as good as the powder gets. www.canaanresort.com.
Cupp Run: Snowshoe Mountain, W.Va. Imagine bumps. Then imagine more bumps. Now imagine them all scattered over a steep, 1.5-mile run. The only question you have to ask yourself is “can you handle that many moguls?” Few people can. At least there’s a bar waiting for you at the bottom. www.snowshoemtn.com.
Upper/Lower Cliffhanger: Wintergreen Resort, Va. Forget black diamonds, try double black. Combine these two runs in the expert-only Highlands Area of Wintergreen and you’ll be taking on one of the steepest, toughest slopes south of the Mason Dixon. Moguls the size of boulders, steeps that induce vertigo: double black bliss. www.wintergreenresort.com.
The Bowl: Wolf Laurel, N.C. Since it’s natural snow only, the Bowl can be elusive. But time it right and you’re in for a treat. It’s steep and bumpy, but most importantly, it’s surrounded by trees and few skiers know how to find it-which means you’ll get your black diamond kicks in solitude. www.skiwolflaurel.com.
The Spruce Glades Pro Park: Snowshoe Mountain, W.Va. It is hands-down the most exciting and challenging terrain park around. It's so good, Snowshoe even makes you watch an instructional video and sign wavers before you’re allowed to enter.