Ski the Valley and Snow Tube, Too, in Tucker County, WV
Oct 30, 2015 03:05PM
By Vanessa Orr
It’s always nerve-wracking to try something new, but the people at Ski Barn, where we rented skis, and the instructors at Timberline Resort, couldn’t have been nicer. It’s actually as simple as filling out a form to rent skis; the only startling thing is that you have to list your weight, which while traumatic for some of us, is the only way for you to get fitted for the proper skis. I had no idea that skis came in different lengths for beginners or that they had easy-release latches so that you could bail out if you found yourself flying over a cliff—something that, based on my levels of coordination, was not out of the question.
We traveled to Timberline Four Seasons Resort, which is one of three skiing areas in the Canaan Valley, all of which are within minutes of each other. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and while there were a good number of people on the slopes, there was plenty of room for me to flail. Don, my ski instructor, was extremely kind and extraordinarily patient, and it wasn’t long before he had me heading up the beginner hill and onto the ski lift—only to watch me flip up in the air for a belly-flopping snow landing upon my exit. Soon, though, I was flying down the slopes, loving life and planning my next ski vacation. I did not, however, get so cocky that I thought I should try the steeper, more advanced trails, having been warned off by names like Thunder Struck, White Lighting, and Silver Streak.
One of the things that I really like about Timberline, in fact, about the whole Canaan Valley area, is that the people there really want you to have a good time, and are happy to lend a hand to make it happen. They love outdoor activities, and they want you to enjoy them, too. A prime example of this is at the White Grass Cross Country Tour Center, where owner and ‘snow farmer’ Chip Chase stops to chat with everyone on the slopes and in his café, which is a must-stop when in town. The Center features 37 miles of trails, including a steep, 1,200 vertical rise, which makes it all the more rewarding when you get back down to the café to enjoy hot homemade soups and sandwiches.
Even if you’re not a skier, you can have a great time in West Virginia’s high country in winter, especially if you have kids, or in my case, have never outgrown the need to act like one. I went snow tubing for the first time at Canaan Valley Resort, and could not believe that I’d lived this long without trying it before. While I sated my need for speed as a solo tuber, the real fun was connecting up with other people’s tubes and going down as a group. The biggest injury I got that whole weekend was sore ribs from laughing so hard on the ride.
I was also lucky enough while in Canaan Valley to attend the opening of the longest sled run on the East Coast in Davis, WV, at Blackwater Falls State Park. Here, you can hop on a sled and race down more than a quarter-mile of fresh-groomed mountain snow; and the good news is, you don’t have to walk back up thanks to a Magic Carpet conveyor system that transports you right back up the hill. While I was there in the middle of January and the snow was deep, the park does have snowmaking equipment, so every day is a sled riding day during the winter season. And if you prefer to ski, the park offers more than 10 miles of cross-country skiing trails.
There are a lot of places to stay in the Canaan Valley, including a 54-room lodge and 39 vacation cabins in Blackwater Falls State Park, and the recently renovated Canaan Valley Resort, which features 160 new lodge rooms and suites, as well as the excellent Hickory Lodge dining room and Season’s Café. To find out more about Tucker County, WV, visit www.canaanvalley.org or call 800-782-2775. To learn more about any of the places mentioned in this article, please visit:
Blackwater Falls State Park: www.blackwaterfalls.com, 304-259-5216
Canaan Valley Resort: www.canaanresort.com, 304-866-4121
The Ski Barn: www.skibarn.net, 304-866-4444
Timberline Four Seasons Resort: www.timberlineresort.com, 304-866-4801
White Grass Cross Country Tour Center: www.whitegrass.com, 304-866-4114