Reviewed by Randy Whitt
Dec 04, 2008
Trace a line formed by Maine's State Routes 16, 27, 4, and 142 and you will encircle some of the state's highest mountains. In the southern part of the circle you'll find the long, impressive mass of Saddleback Mountain, from whose summit drop the twisty, wooded trails of Saddleback the ski resort.
Sugarloaf boasts 138 trails, 15 lifts, and a bustling village at the base.
Even on the biggest dump days the place is peaceful: Lift lines barely push four minutes, and locals take leisurely dips into untracked shots all day.
If the idea of outdoor recreation in West Virginia brings to mind Deliverance-style canoe trips instead of skiing, you haven’t heard of Snowshoe Mountain. Snowshoe, which is located in the in the Monongahela National Forest, has the most vertical in the state and the only half pipe. The ski area also has night skiing, access to two peaks, and an average snowfall of 180 inches (not bad for the southeast).
Start Here: It's an upside-down mountain, so you'll start at the top and ski down. Make some early morning laps on Widowmaker.
Quick Tip: Ski patrol drops the ropes at 9 a.m. Be there before then to beat the crowds.
Must Hit: The Western Territories, which drop 1,500 vertical feet over a leg-burning mile and a half, are the steepest runs in West Virginia.
The Stash: North-facing Silver Creek holds a lot of snow, even after other places on the mountain are wind scoured. Bear Claw and Flying Eagle stay deep on powder days.
Powder Day: Head to the South Mountain and check Widowmaker, Camp 99, and Sawmill for some stashes. The only skiable glades on the mountain are on Sawmill—the area is new, so watch out for stumps and rocks in the trees. Be there for rope drop—it can get tracked out quickly.
Three Days Later: Most of the mountain is groomed nightly, but if they skip over Lower Shay’s Revenge, the bumps can be epic.
Park and Pipe: Snowshoe has four parks, two at each mountain. Mountaineer, on the Silver Creek side, has West Virginia’s only half-pipe. Powder Monkey and Timberjack terrain gardens have smaller features that are ideal for first time jibbers.
Backcountry Access: Sorry, there’s no backcountry access here.
Weather: Snowshoe sits south of the Mason-Dixon line, so conditions can be a bit soupy. But, it gets an average of 180 inches a year, which is more than some Yankee resorts can say.
Après: Line up with the locals at 4:30 at Moonshine in the Shaver’s Center or grab a West Virginia microbrew at the Foxfire Grille.
Fuel: The best burger on the mountain is the Hunk-a-Hunk at the Foxfire Grille. The sushi (yes, sushi in West Virginia) at Ember is excellent. Off the mountain, the Elk River Restaurant is a good bet.
Up All Night: The Comedy Cellar and the Connection Night Club are Snowshoe’s hot spots. The Connection usually has a live band playing. The tubing park and the Big Top arcade are kid-friendly options.
Digs: The Elk River Inn offers multiple rooms at their lodge. Ski packages, including meals and rentals, are also available (from $75; elkriverinnandrestaurant.com). If you book through Snowshoe's central reservation system (which offers 1,400 lodging options from hotel rooms to town homes), you'll get discounted lift tickets (snowshoemtn.com).
Elevation: 4,848 Ft. Vertical Drop: 1,500 feet Snowfall: 180 inches Acres: 244 Info: snowshoemtn.com