There’s more than skiing in Maryland’s mountain resort

Reed Hellman

A skier at Maryland’s Wisp Resort gains some air heading down the slope.

Garrett County is home to Wisp Resort, Maryland’s premier ski venue, but the state’s winter playground also offers plenty of “off-slope” activities that can warm up even the coldest day. After all, even the most ardent skier occasionally enjoys a change of scene.

If you want to enjoy people-powered sports, Wisp Resort — along with its 32 slopes and trails — maintains terrain parks, a snow tubing park, an ice skating rink, and a Nordic center offering snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Thrill-seekers will enjoy the Mountain Coaster, which runs year-round as long as the track is ice-free.

Kids master the sport of skiing at Wisp Resort.
Kids master the sport of skiing at Wisp Resort.

Two of Garrett County’s state parks also maintain groomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. Herrington Manor State Park has 10 miles of beginning- to intermediate-level trails running into the adjoining Garrett State Forest. Also, a 5.5-mile trail connects through to Swallow Falls State Park. The park trails are track-set when conditions allow.

New Germany State Park has 10 miles of multi-purpose trails that can challenge cross-country skiers of all abilities.

Beginners can enjoy the flat, open “turnpikes,” while winding hillside trails can give a workout to experienced skiers. During the winter months, the park’s lake house warming hut rents cross-country skis and snowshoes, and provides a place to relax after a day in the snow.

Swallow Falls State Park is home to the 53-foot-high Muddy Creek Falls, Maryland’s highest free-falling waterfall. A 1 1/4-mile trail takes winter hikers and photographers to some of Western Maryland’s most breathtaking scenery, made even lovelier by a cover of snow and ice. Savage River State Forest also maintains cross-country skiing trails. Deep Creek Lake State Park, Swallow Falls State Park, Herrington Manor State Park, and the Potomac- Garrett State Forest offer snowshoe tours.

Take a sleigh ride

Garrett County’s snow-bound winter landscape lends itself to horse-drawn sleigh rides. Circle R Ranch has offered horseback riding for years, and recently added carriage and sleigh rides. Enjoy a classic “one-horse open sleigh” drawn by Circle R’s majestic Percherons and Clydesdales, as you snuggle down under the warmth of the sleigh blankets. Private sleigh rides are available, as well as horseback riding if weather conditions permit.

Wisp’s Mountain Coaster is a different way to enjoy the winter.
Wisp’s Mountain Coaster is a different way to enjoy the winter.

At Pleasant Valley Dream Rides, you can take a step back in time by enjoying a carriage or winter sleigh ride through the countryside of Pleasant Valley. Enjoy a tractor-drawn hayride or tour the dairy farm.

Winter in Garrett County does not have to be all about the outdoors. To cap off a strenuous day, try one of the numerous spas — including some that offer in-home massages. Four museums encourage you to explore the region’s natural and cultural history. Spruce Forest Artisan Village in Grantsville features artisans creating pottery, metal sculpture, stained glass, and other works in historic structures.

Visitors to Garrett County and Deep Creek Lake have another incentive to stay a while. The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce is offering a “3-2-1” lodging and activity promotion on its website, The promotion offers three nights’ lodging for the price of two, plus discounted activities, and runs until Dec. 15.

Nine lodging companies, ranging from rental home properties to bed-and-breakfasts, cabins, a slopeside hotel, and log-cabin-style hotel suites, are participating in the promotion. Activity offers include discounted wine and beer tastings and discounted amusement center activities.

The “3-2-1” promotion includes lodging offers from Blue Moon Rising on Deep Creek Lake, Cabin on Farm View, Deep Creek Lodging Company, Haley Farm Inn and Retreat Center, Joyce’s Deep Creek Rental, Ski Cove #3, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations and Sales, The Lodges at Sunset Village, and Wisp Resort Hotel and Conference Center.

For More Information:

Garrett Co. Tourism:

Wisp Resort:

A skier at Maryland’s Wisp Resort gains some air heading down the slope.
A skier at Maryland’s Wisp Resort gains some air heading down the slope.


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Garrett County, MD, is a winter playground with more than just skiing and snowboarding.

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