A lot of people say that outdoor winter activities on the Eastern Seaboard can’t compete with the offerings out West. And to some extent that’s true. The Rocky Mountains are much bigger than the local Appalachians and have plenty to offer. But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t great winter sports here. One just has to travel a bit for it.
Four-and-a-half hours west of Washington D.C. sits one of the best area mountains for skiing and snowboarding anywhere in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic: Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia.
The ski resort is located at the convergence of two peaks, Cheat and Back Allegheny, and the resort and trails rest in the resulting valley. The summit of Cheat Mountain is nearly 5,000 feet, the second highest elevation in all of West Virginia. That height makes for long vertical drops, with some runs falling over 1,000 feet.
Snowshoe Resort is quite large, approximately 240 acres. In that space skiers will find 60 runs, 14 lifts and trails well over a mile in length, allowing for some long, smooth skiing down the mountain.
Snowshoe is unique compared to most local ski areas in that all the resorts amenities are at the top of the mountain. Houses, hotels, restaurants and bars are all at the summit. It’s a nice little touch. Once you arrive and purchase your ticket, instead of waiting in line for a chairlift, you can begin skiing right away.
The resort itself is split into four different sections. During the day, skiers and snowboarders can tackle three of the sections. The Village at Snowshoe is the biggest section of the resort, with more than half of the runs located there. A long, easy run, Hootenanny, can takes skiers to another section, Top of the World, which has several black diamonds for advanced skiing, as well as a nice long intermediate run.
The other two sections of the park are accessible only by shuttle. On the other face of the mountain, for advanced skiers, looms the Western Territory. It contains two double black diamonds, including Shay’s Run, a mile-and-a-half long trail that has the longest vertical drop of any slope in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
For a less dangerous and more relaxed time, the fourth part of the park is perfect. Silver Creek offers night skiing, which is open until 9:00 pm, and tubing, where kids and adults alike can slide down the mountain instead of swoosh.
Because of its high elevation, Snowshoe Resort gets colder much earlier in the season and records its first snowfall in the early months of autumn. It doesn’t wait for the winter chill like most of the closer ski slopes. As a result, by the time ski season hits, there’s already a fantastic base of snow. As of January this year, the mountain already received over 100” of snowfall. And it gets frequent precipitation, so the runs aren’t nearly as icy as one expects when skiing in the mid-Atlantic.
Lift tickets for the resort are also reasonably priced. For a full day of skiing, including night runs at Silver Creek, expect to pay about $76. For a two-hour tubing session, the price is only $24. So purchase your tickets and enjoy one of the best mountains anywhere on the East Coast.
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