Set in the mountains of western Maryland and centered around the 3,900-acre namesake lake, Deep Creek is a tourist-driven Allegheny escape that refuses to compromise its wild character.
After stints at other regional resorts, Mike Valach, who runs ski and rider services at Wisp Ski Resort, found just what he needed in the area’s never-ending mountain sports opportunities.
“This is the recreation mecca,” says Valach. “There is something to do during every season of the year.”
Garrett County is an outdoor playground with rolling peaks, world-class rivers, wicked slopes, and 90,000 acres of public land in the nearby state forests and parks. There’s also a whitewater park above Wisp. When he’s craving a little more urban grit, Valach can be in Pittsburgh in two hours or Washington, D.C. in a little more than three.
“It never gets boring here,” he says. “When winter’s over, it’s time jump on your bike or paddleboard.”
Valach’s Playtime Picks:
Ski Wisp: With 120 inches of annual snowfall, Wisp is one of the region’s top ski and snowboard spots. It offers 32 slopes on 132 acres with some killer black diamonds like Over the Edge and an ever-changing stash of features in three terrain parks. skiwisp.com
Cross-Country Cornucopia: Nordic skiers never run out of options in Garrett County. In addition to Wisp’s 50 kilometers of trails at their Outdoor Nordic Center, all of the area’s state parks have open cross-country ski trails, including a popular network at New Germany State Park.
Paddle the Yock: Mid-Atlantic whitewater paddlers flock to the Yock. The raging upper section of the Youghiogheny River features a 10-mile class IV-V stretch from Sang Run Road to Friendsville that’s fast and technical with rapids like Triple Drop and Meat Cleaver.
Hike to the Top: State high-pointers will want to take the relatively easy jaunt to the 3,360-foot summit of Backbone Mountain—the highest point in Maryland—for some supreme Allegheny views. For a longer stroll, try the 5.5-mile white-blazed trail deep in the woods of the Garrett State Forest, which connects Herrington Manor and Swallow Falls State Parks. Here you’ll find Muddy Creek Falls, the largest waterfall in Maryland at 54 feet.
State Forest Singletrack: Maryland forest land is more technical and rooty than steep. Experience it with the eight-mile loop of the Margroff Plantation Trail System near Accident, Md., in the Savage State Forest. Wisp also has a freeride park and downhill mountain biking during the warm months on 15 trails.
Explore the Lake: Perched at nearly 2,500 feet, the elevated Deep Creek Lake has its share of high-end second homes, but it’s also a hugely popular spot for kayaking and, more recently, stand-up paddleboarding. Valach says a paddleboard racing scene exploded last summer, and should only get stronger this year.
Adventure Sports Center International: With advanced wave-shaper technology, the Adventure Sports Center’s 1,700-foot whitewater course can vary its obstacles and rapid classes in 20 minutes. The popular run is adjusted for all levels of whitewater rafting, riverboarding, and kayaking. The center also has a 550-acre Fork Run Natural Area, which holds 10 miles of biking and cross-country skiing trails, freeriding course, fixed ropes climbing, and a bouldering garden. adventuresportscenter.com