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Southeastern Ski Scoop
Four Southern slopes
PRO A dedicated snowmaking team keeps the mountain open from early November to late March—a respectable Southern season.
CON “When the skiing’s good, it’s going to be crowded,” says Ann Christenson, a longtime member of the Atlanta Ski Club and weekend ski patroller at Cataloochee.
Sugar Mountain Resort, NC skisugar.com State-of-the-art snowmaking and a five-hour drive make Sugar another great weekend destination. With twenty trails and a vertical drop of 1,200 feet, it offers the most skiable acres in the state—plus a terrain park, tubing, and ice-skating. Rent a slopeside condo or chalet, or stay in one of nearby Banner Elk’s homespun B&Bs. Last October, the winner of the town’s Woolly Worm Festival (think Groundhog Day for caterpillars) predicted a cold winter.
PRO Lots of blue and green runs for beginners plus a magic carpet for easy uphill transport.
CON Same as Cataloochee: The mountain can get congested. Avoid holiday weekends.
The Homestead, VA thehomestead.com Located eight and a half hours away in historic Hot Springs, this mountain resort pre-dates the Revolutionary War. Besides the grand Georgian-style hotel and usual resort offerings (golf, tennis, a spa fed by the area’s famous thermal springs), the Homestead boasts nine meticulously groomed ski runs, two tubing lanes, a terrain park, and an Olympic-size skating rink. Snowmobile tours and carriage rides further illuminate the grounds.
PRO Luxurious accommodations and plenty of diversions for nonskiers.
CON It’s more “ahhh” than adrenaline rush.
Snowshoe Mountain, WV snowshoemtn.com “When I lived in upstate New York, we drove down to Snowshoe to ski,” says Christenson of this more distant destination (about nine and a half hours from Atlanta), which features sixty downhill trails on three mountain faces, four terrain parks, and a 1,500-foot vertical drop. Atop the mountain is a “village” of hotels, condos, and chalets where you can open your door and hit the slopes—plus restaurants, a spa, and even a comedy club.
PRO Thanks to its nearly mile-high altitude, the mountain averages about 200 inches of natural snowfall per year.
CON Skiers may have to contend with blustery weather.
Photograph of Sugar Mountain Resort by Todd Bush, www.bushphoto.com