West Virginia offers some of the best skiing in the East. Because skiing depends on the weather, aficionados can keep up with the latest conditions at westvirginiaski.com, skisoutheast.com, and on each resort’s website.
In the northern Monongahela National Forest, Canaan Valley is home to two of West Virginia’s five downhill ski areas: the state-owned Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center and the privately owned Timberline Resort. Snow-making is available on all of Timberline’s trails and on 74 percent of the Canaan trails. Canaan has three lifts while Timberline has four. At both resorts, the trails are divided about evenly among those for beginners, intermediate, and advanced skiers. Both resorts offer ski lessons.
Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center, a state park, has 39 trails. The summit is at 4,280 feet, with a vertical drop of 850 feet. Airboarding—riding inflatable sleds with grooves on the bottom that allow riders to make sharp turns and quick stops-–is allowed on specified trails for those over age nine and at least 48 inches tall. There is a Tube Park for those over age four and at least 42 inches tall. And there is a Kidz Korner, where children ages two to six can be entertained while the rest of the family is on the slopes. The resort also has a scenic covered outdoor ice-skating rink with an outdoor fireplace. Canaan has three restaurants and cabins, cottages, and a lodge.
Timberline has 41 trails. The summit is at 4,268 feet with a drop of about 1,000 feet. It has one of the longest runs in the South–-about two miles. The resort has two restaurants and a new Slopeside Hotel, but it specializes in sales and rentals of vacation homes. Like Canaan Resort, it offers other amenities, including hiking, biking, and horseback riding in the off season.
At the other end of northern West Virginia, Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, owned by the city, has skiing on an 815-foot slope with a 168-foot vertical drop. The park has one lift and can make snow. Oglebay is near downtown Wheeling and has other amenities, including restaurants, a zoo, year-round golf and hiking.
Southern West Virginia has two ski resorts, Winterplace and Snowshoe Mountain, both privately owned. Winterplace is the most easily accessible ski area in West Virginia, about two minutes off Interstate 77 Exit 28, halfway between Beckley and Bluefield. Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas County is the state’s largest resort, but the most remote, located off U.S. 219. The resort’s website, however, has extensive driving instructions from any direction.
The Winterplace summit is 3,600 feet, with a vertical drop of 603 feet. The resort has 27 slopes, 100 percent snow-making capability, and nine lifts. Twenty-three percent of the slopes are for advanced skiers, with the rest split about evenly between beginner and intermediate trails. Winterplace has the largest snow tubing park in West Virginia, with two lifts; tubers must be at least 44 inches tall. There is a Kiddie Snowtubing Park if weather allows. Winterplace offers ski instruction for adults and children and day care for those six months to four years old. The resort has four restaurants but no onsite lodging. There are numerous places to stay nearby, many with links on the resort website.
Snowshoe has a 4,848-summit with a 1,500-foot vertical drop and 100 percent snow-making capability. The resort has 15 lifts and 60 trails. Of those, 42 percent are easier, 30 percent more difficult, 23 percent most difficult, 5 percent extremely difficult, and 11 percent freestyle. There is a six-story tubing park, and the resort offers tours by snowmobile or snowcat, ski lessons, and a kid’s night-out program. There are 20 restaurants on the property and a “Big Top,” which has arcades, a climbing wall, billiards, a movie theater and live entertainment. Lodging options are extensive and include an inn, lodges, cottages, cabins, condos, and townhouses spread over six “neighborhoods.”
Cross-country skiing is available at Canaan Valley, Timberline, and Snowshoe and at several other locations in West Virginia. For more information, visit http://www.skiingwv.com/cross-country-skiing/.
Besides Canaan, cross-country skiing is encouraged at two state parks. At Blackwater Falls State Park in Tucker County, the Cross Country Ski Center is open from mid-December through mid-March to help visitors access more than 10 miles of park trails. The center also offers ski lessons and equipment rentals. Pipestem Resort State Park, on the border between Mercer and Summers Counties, allows cross-skiing on seven non-groomed trails and on its golf course if there is enough snow.
Three private resorts offer cross-country skiing. In northern West Virginia, Alpine Lake Resort in Terra Alta, Preston County, has seven groomed trails, a 35-room motel, cabins, and a lodge.
The Elk River Touring Center, five miles from Snowshoe Mountain on U.S. 219, has about three miles of trails adjacent to the center and another 22 miles that crisscross the Highland Scenic Highway. The center does no high-tech grooming but does rent a variety of cross-country skis and snowshoes.
The premier cross-country ski destination in West Virginia may be White Grass in Tucker County. White Grass has about 31 miles of machine-groomed trails ranging in altitude from 3,200 feet to 4,400 feet. White Grass offers rentals, repairs, and lessons.
Written by Jennifer Bundy