Where to ski, slide and snowboard not far from home

Where to ski, slide and snowboard not far from home

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Yes, a weekend in the Alps would be nice, wouldn’t it? Of course, you can pull that off with a modicum of planning. But what if you wake up to discover snow has fallen in your little corner of Germany? A handful of hilly places — we’d hesitate to call them full-fledged mountains — offer rope tows, toboggan runs and all the other infrastructure you need for a day of play in the white stuff minus that long drive from home. Here’s the low-down on where to go for fun in the snow close to some of our bases and places:

GRAFENWÖHR

Ochsenkopf, some 30 miles to the north in the Fichtelgebirge, is home to northern Bavaria’s longest ski slopes and a great place to get started or sharpen intermediate level skills. The area has around six miles in total of downhill runs, two proper lifts, 12 tow lifts and two snowboard parks. Five rental facilities will kit newbies out, while two ski schools will have them up and running in no time.

On a much smaller scale, the Ski and Snowboard Center Fahrenberg offers a wide groomed slope and a T-lift to get you up the hill. Floodlights mean the day doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down, and from Tuesdays through Saturdays, the lift operates until 10 p.m.

KMC and BAUMHOLDER

Your local winter paradise is the Erbeskopf, where skiing, snowboarding, hiking and sliding are just some of the fun ways to spend a winter day.

At 2677 feet, the Erbeskopf is the highest mountain in Rhineland-Palatinate. Three downhill runs and a bunny slope offer beginners and intermediates plenty of challenge. Two toboggan runs promise fun for all ages. Snow cover permitting, there’s one lift that is in operation each day, and on weekends, a second lift is put in to motion. On Friday nights, the floodlights are turned on and night skiing is possible until 9 p.m. A ski school and ski rental station help those new to the sport get up and running.

It’s rare that there’s ever enough snow cover for cross-country skiing at Erbeskopf, but if we should be blessed with a healthy snow fall, a course will be groomed and at the ready. [SS1] Some eight miles of cross-country ski trails crisscross this winter sports paradise; for the latest on whether or not the trails are currently open and what kind of snow cover to expect, check for condition updates or visit Erbeskopf's Facebook page.

RHEIN-NECKAR

On those rare occasions when enough snow does fall, at least two lifts in the Odenwald are put into gear: Schnorrenbach and Beerfelden. Otherwise, bring a sled, drive around to see what slopes the locals are using, and join in the fun.

STUTTGART

For local-ish skiing, the Black Forest’s Feldberg is likely your best bet, but how about a day out sliding instead? The Rodelzentrum Kaisersbach, some 40 miles northeast of Stuttgart and less than an hour’s drive, offers two tow ropes for kids on board their sleds from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays only. During the warm months of the year, their Rodelbahn offers speedy downhill fun on a track.

WIESBADEN

The Naturpark Taunus and its winter activities are pretty much in the backyard for those who call Wiesbaden home. The Oberreifenberg ski lift next to the youth hostel offers skiing and snowboarding, along with tobogganing on a separate track, and Treisberg has similar facilities.

Looking to give winter sports a try but lack the proper equipment? Check with Family and MWR or your FSS outdoor facilities. If they don’t have what you’re after, look into one of these places with rental facilities. Bring a passport or ID to use as your deposit, just in case.

Where is your favorite local winter playground?

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