5 winter-sport destinations in the Deep Creek Lake area

From downhill skiing to snowshoeing, here’s where you can experience it all this winter season in the western terrain of Maryland.

man cross country skiing into trees
© Val Thoermer / stock.adobe.com

It’s December, and that means it’s time to start finalizing plans in your calendar for the winter months, ranging from upcoming holiday parties to the kids’ seasonal sports schedules. Take a break with one of these winter-focused getaways in nearby Deep Creek Lake.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking to speed down the ski slopes or you’re more interested in a scenic walk through the snow-covered woods, here are five sites worth exploring this winter.

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Herrington Manor State Park
Distance from Northern Virginia: About two hours and 50 minutes
For beginner- and intermediate-level cross-country skiers, Herrington Manor State Park offers 10 miles of trails that lead into the adjoining, wide-open state forest. The steep hills also serve as a great location for sledding when weather allows, offering beautiful views of the surrounding forest. Plus, when you can’t feel your toes anymore, all are welcome to warm up at the nearby Lakehouse, equipped with restrooms, tables, equipment rentals, snacks and even seasonal gifts on the weekends. // 222 Herrington Lane, Oakland, Maryland; $3-$25 for rentals

New Germany State Park
Distance from Northern Virginia: About two hours and 55 minutes
For fans of cross-country skiing who are looking for a challenge this season, head to New Germany State Park. The entire property offers 12 miles of trails that are groomed each season, ranging in slope and difficulty. While there are a few trails for beginners, the majority of the grounds offer practice for more advanced skiers with winding hillside trails. Not a fan of cross-country skiing? Not to worry, this site also offers trails for winter hikers and snowshoe users. For all adventurers, there is a warming hut open throughout the winter season, giving you a chance to rent the proper equipment, purchase a snack or a cup of hot cocoa and unwind after a day in the cold. // 349 Headquarters Lane, Grantsville, Maryland; free

Wisp Resort
Distance from Northern Virginia: About three hours
If you’re a ski bum looking for a place to spend your weekends this winter, look no further than Wisp Resort in McHenry, Maryland. With 172 acres of ski terrain, snow bunnies will never be bored, as this is a one-stop hub for skiing, snowboarding and even tubing. From beginners to experienced snow-sport athletes, there are green and black diamond slopes alike. Plus, visitors can even sign up for guided snowmobiling tours throughout the property on select weekends. For the 2019-2020 season, Wisp is offering the Mission: Four’dable quad pack, which gives you access to four unrestricted, extended day lift tickets for just $209. Whether you choose to purchase a few for yourself or want to give one away as a holiday gift this season, the choice is yours until Friday, Dec. 20 when the offer expires. // 296 Marsh Hill Road, McHenry, Maryland; prices vary

Deep Creek Lake State Park
Distance from Northern Virginia: About three hours
Consisting of nine trails ranging from easy to difficult terrain, Deep Creek Lake State Park is an ideal stopping point this winter season for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The longest of the trails, Meadow Mountain Trail, offers 5.5 miles of land where cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling is allowed starting Sunday, Dec. 15. The trails are primarily not groomed (yet aligned with signs), making the experience even more thrilling for adventure seekers and daredevils alike. // 898 State Park Road, Swanton, Maryland; free

Swallow Falls State Park
Distance from Northern Virginia: About three hours
If you’re planning a weekend getaway with the family this winter season, be sure to stop by Swallow Falls State Park for a day of adventure and scenic views. Within the park, there is a trail just about 1 mile long, great for a little exercise in the snow with the youngsters. Plus, this site is home to the 53-foot Muddy Creek Falls waterfall, which tends to freeze in the middle of winter, creating an idyllic stopping point for pictures. If you have teens who want to get a little more wild in the snowy hills, mountain bike rentals are available at the visitors center. // 2470 Maple Glade Road, Oakland, Maryland; $0-$26

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